By Dr. Michael Rodewald, LCMS regional director for Africa
While Thanksgiving may be an American holiday tradition, family and friends of Enoch Macben and Frank Kaine of Uganda also had reason to give thanks to God. On Thursday, Nov. 24, 39 students, alumni, staff and friends gathered at Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) in Pretoria, South Africa, for the end-of-year ceremony which marks the successful completion of the year’s studies at LTS.
Graduation day began with the Order of Matins officiated by LTS Professor Nathan Mntambo. Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (LCSA), Dr. Wilhelm Weber, who also serves as the seminary rector, shared the rector’s report and presided over the graduation ceremony. The ceremony included prize-giving and certificates for completion of courses for eight first-year, second-year and third-year students, as well as gowning of the two graduates and songs from the student body choir.
Dr. Weber also announced that both 2011 graduates had been accepted into the honours program at nearby University of Pretoria (UP) for the 2012 academic year. This enables them to continue towards an accredited honours or master’s degree in theology. They join four other graduates of LTS currently studying at UP. The anticipated implementation of an agreement between LTS and UP is expected to allow qualifying students to be admitted to the University’s accredited Bachelor of Theology degree and will include courses taken at LTS.
Importance of Advanced Pastoral Training in Africa
Advanced pastoral training in Africa is becoming increasingly important as Lutheran church bodies throughout the continent are growing more rapidly than pastors can be prepared. As a result of rapid growth, theological astuteness in many emerging Lutheran church bodies is minimal.
The number one request from the leaders of emerging Lutheran church bodies is for help in better understanding their Lutheran identity. As these western Lutheran mission/daughter churches grow more mature and expand, they plant additional churches often referred to as Africa-initiated Lutheran churches (AILCs). Many do not have adequate access to local formal theological education programs and currently must depend upon other institutions such as LTS as they develop their own.
Dr. Tim Quill, recently appointed as director of Theological Education for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Office of International Mission, coordinates LCMS efforts to assist LCMS partners in providing confessional Lutheran theological education for these emerging Lutheran church bodies in Africa.
Partnerships Help Maximize the Potential
With a now estimated 18 million to 20 million Lutheran Christians throughout Africa, preparing men and women for ministry is indeed critical and partnership towards that goal maximizes the potential.
Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) is jointly owned in a partnership of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSiSA), and the Mission of Lutheran Churches (MLC) in Germany. LTS is thankful for and depends upon the support not only of the LCSA, FELSiSA and MLC, but also the support of LCMS partners such as the LCMS Office of International Mission (formerly LCMS World Mission and LCMS World Relief and Human Care), LCMS Rocky Mountain District, Lutheran Heritage Foundation, Schwan Foundation, LCMS Southern Illinois District and private donors. LTS also receives significant in-kind support from the LCMS through short-term professors from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, as well as short-term volunteers who assist with maintaining buildings and logistics.
Rev. Glenn Fluegge of the LCMS Office of International Mission serves on staff part-time teaching Greek and Hebrew. Rev. Dr. Carl Rockrohr and his wife, Deaconess Deborah Rockrohr have received a call to serve at LTS through the LCMS and are anticipated to arrive in 2012 to assist with teaching duties. Carl will assist the rector as a theological educator and Deborah will serve as director of a new deaconess program to begin in 2012.
These partnerships make it possible for LTS to continue to train candidates such as Enoch and Frank for ordination.
Thanksgiving in Africa
Thanksgiving may be a bit different in the United States than in Africa, but serving in God’s mission together to meet opportunity for mission, we all have much to be thankful for.
- Learn more about LCMS mission and mercy work in Africa.
- Visit the Lutheran Theological Seminary in South Africa website.
- Pray for LCMS missionaries currently serving in South Africa.