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Teaching from experience and by experience

March 9, 2011 One Comment

by James Morgan 

For Pastor Albert Schmidt of Edmonton, retirement means changing the focus of his work, not stopping it. He continues giving freely of his time and experience to build Christ’s Church and proclaim His Word by voluntarily teaching at Concordia Seminary in Odessa, Ukraine, operated by the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Ukraine (SELCU), a partner of Lutheran Church–Canada.

Pastor Schmidt, 78, has instructed most, possibly all ordained pastors in the Ukrainian synod since he first went there to teach in 1998, according to Rev. Oleg Schewtschenko, a Ukrainian pastor. On his current visit, he is teaching two classes: pastoral theology, and The Life of Christ from the Synoptic Gospels.

Seminary students visited a hospital to gain practical experience in pastoral ministry

In the pastoral theology class, students learn different aspects of pastoral ministry, including its responsibilities. To apply the classroom work, Pastor Schmidt asked Pastor Schewtschenko to arrange for the students to spend time at a local hospital visiting patients. Their experiences with the patients were mixed. Some people did not want to talk and told the students to leave. Others were open to listening and asked for prayer. Some were homeless, or very angry towards God and the Church.

After the nearly two-hour visit, the students had gained a better appreciation for the practical aspects of the pastoral ministry. “It is one thing to sit in the class and read some books and talk about the ministry, but it is something very different to be able to go out and do it,” said one student.

Photos, facts and personal stories from Pastor Schmidt enhanced the class on the synoptic Gospels

In The Life of Christ from the Synoptic Gospels class, Pastor Schmidt arranged a slide presentation on Israel for the students and members of local congregations. He provided photos and stories from his many visits to the country and talked about the life of the Jews, Christ, and the early Christians in the New Testament. The pastor also shared material from Old Testament scholars on Israel in the time before Christ.

Funding for the seminary classes is provided by Concordia Lutheran Mission Society. This year the mission society is committed to raising $22,000 to supply professors for the seminary.