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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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More than just 'preacher factories'

ELCA seminaries provide traditional Lutheran theological education & prepare students for tomorrow's church

Today they sit in classrooms at theological seminaries, studying church history, doctrine and Scripture, learning how to preach and provide pastoral care. For three years, plus a year of internship, they explore the complex world of professional ministry.

Mark Hirsch<BR><BR>Sandra Burroughs
Sandra Burroughs began Tuesday, Feb. 20, by leading chapel at Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. By the end of the day she and other graduating seniors were told what region they’d be sent to for their first call.
Then they step into our churches, taking what they have learned into thousands of congregations. In many ways the men and women at the ELCA’s eight seminaries are like previous generations of students. They feel called by God to public ministry in the church as pastors, educators and other types of workers. They are eager to proclaim the gospel, teach and lead congregations in faithful worship and service.

But in significant ways today’s seminarians are unlike many pastors currently serving ELCA parishes. Furthermore, many of the congregations they will serve are nothing like the churches their predecessors entered just after their ordination a generation ago. Seminaries today prepare different kinds of leaders for different kinds of congregations.

“About 20 years ago most seminaries were just preacher factories,” said Richard H. Bliese, president of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. “Since then the type of leadership the church wants has expanded.”

For instance, congregations are looking for theologically trained parish nurses, he said, and often seek professionally trained youth workers rather than just asking the parents of teenagers to oversee the youth group.


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