What do you know about Educational Ministries and the Certificate Programs at the Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT)? Well, if you haven’t been watching lately, you will probably be surprised. Certificate Programs are the “other side of the coin” at ILT. While ILT’s Graduate Programs train and educate people for ministry with its Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Religion (MR), Master of Sacred Theology (STM) and Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degrees, the Certificate Programs train and educate laypeople who are in pastoral, educational, and leadership positions in congregations.
The Certificate Programs have been around since the beginning of ILT. Currently the school has four different certificates: Faith and Life Certificate (FLC), Youth and Family Certificate (YFC), Pastoral Ministry Certificate (PMC) and Elijah Project Ministry Certificate (EPMC). The FLC is designed to meet the needs of any interested layperson by offering a solid foundation in Lutheran teaching and life. The YFC is designed to give a solid theological and practical foundation to church workers involved in children’s, youth, or family ministry in a congregation. The PMC is designed for laypeople desiring to work in the pastoral office in a church, but need more theological education to do so. Many of our PMC graduates end up as ordained pastors in congregations. The EPMC was developed to educate immigrant and international pastors who serve ethnic congregations in North America. It takes into consideration the cultural background and setting of the pastors and the congregations they serve.
All this may be “old news” to many of our readers. However, the Certificate Programs, which are a part of ILT’s Educational Ministries, are now located in Omaha and currently in partnership with Lutheran Church of the Master (LCMC). Rev. Douglas Morton, ILT’s Dean of Educational Ministries, has also moved to Omaha to oversee the development and expansion of this phase of the Certificate Programs’ growth.
Not only will Certificate classes continue to be taught online through the Brookings Campus, but classes will also be taught at the Omaha site, where students will attend live onsite classes at Lutheran Church of the Master, or participate in one of the onsite classes live over the internet. Certificate programs for the future will include the Christian Evangelical Outreach Certificate (CEOC) along with the possibility of other certificate programs. While these are clearly something for the future, they hold great possibilities for the church-at-large to give their church workers and entire laity both a good grounding in Lutheran theology while at the same time equipping them for ministry roles in the congregation.
The future also holds possibilities for short classes of interest for laypeople at Lutheran Church of the Master and at other congregations around the Midwest. These will be 4-6 week classes taught by an authority in the topic’s area.
ILT’s Educational Ministries will also be working on helping to develop theological education in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. The preliminary groundwork is already being done to see about the feasibility of ILT taking theological education to these areas. We are also working with Trinity Lutheran Seminary of the Lutheran Church of South Sudan (LCSS) to help them design and deliver a Masters Certificate of Theology for its professors and pastors, as well as a Deaconess Certificate for those who wish to become deaconesses in the LCSS.
“We asked God to open doors for us at ILT,” says Rev. Morton, “and it certainly looks as if He has been answering our prayers. I am astounded at the opportunities God is placing before ILT as we seek to make a difference in individuals and congregations in North America and around the world. I feel like Abram to whom God said: ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.’”(Genesis 12:1; ESV). Moving to Omaha is certainly a step of faith. Working on all the ways ILT’s Educational Ministries can be a blessing to individuals and congregations is even more of a step of faith. But Rev. Morton is excited about what God is doing, and will do, as its Educational Ministries and Certificate Programs walk through the open doors. We are also looking forward to our educational partnerships with Morningside Lutheran Church of Sioux City, Iowa and St. Matthew Lutheran Church of Galena, Illinois.
Rev. Morton is seeking to raise from $75,000 to $100,000 this coming year to help make these ministries possible and sustainable. If you, or your congregation, believe God is calling you to help in this endeavor, then we encourage you to contact Rev. Morton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (605) 691-4576. Rev. Morton is willing to come and speak with any pastor or congregation about what ILT has to offer them and their communities through its Educational Ministries.