My wife Susanne and I just returned to our hotel from the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) banquet this evening in Orlando, Florida. It was a great evening because the Institute of Lutheran Theology was officially recognized there as achieving accreditation candidacy status. Henceforth, we shall be able to say:
The Institute of Lutheran Theology holds candidate status with the Association for Biblical Higher Education, 5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Ste. 130, Orlando, FL 32822; 407.207.0808. Candidate status is a pre-accreditation status granted to those institutions that meet the ABHE Conditions of Eligibility and that possess such qualities as may provide a basis for achieving accreditation status within five years.
But some may ask, what is so significant about this? After all, ILT is not accredited yet. It holds only pre-accreditation status. Besides, it is not being accredited by the ATS (Association of Theological Schools) or the HLC (Higher Learning Commission).
But the truth is that what happened tonight is very significant for ILT. ABHE accreditation, like its ATS and HLC counterparts, is recognized both by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the US Department of Education. Moreover, once an institution meets candidacy stage, the US Department of Education is notified within 30 days of that institution's changed status. Rest assured that ABHE, ATS or HLC does not grant candidacy to an institution unless it has strong evidence that the institution can achieve accreditation within the candidacy period. Thus, candidacy is a really big deal; it means that students, friends and supporters of ILT can rightfully expect ILT to soon achieve its ultimate goal: full institutional accreditation.
The Institute of Lutheran Theology profoundly appreciates its partnership with the Association of Biblical Higher Education. ABHE is a Christ-filled, professional accrediting agency wanting its institutions to have all of the excellent institutional characteristics of ATS and HLC accredited schools, but, most importantly, will not interfere with an institution's freedom to put down the requisite structures necessary to further its religious mission. For us, that mission is to "rigorously equip faithful pastors, teachers and lay people to effectively proclaim the gospel and serve Christ's church throughout the world."
I want to thank our Accreditation liaison, Dr. Jonathan Sorum, and the entire staff of ILT who have worked so hard over the years to achieve this milestone.
God bless all who have walked beside us these last nine years. We said in the beginning that ILT must be independent, autonomous and fully accredited in order to be both effective and faithful. Tonight we took a giant step towards achieving this goal. We thank God for blessing ILT and look to the future with anticipation, joy and humility. We covet your prayers always!
President Dennis Bielfeldt
Dr. Ralph Enlow, the President of the Association of Biblical Higher Education (Left) with Dr. Dennis Bielfeldt, President of the Institute of Lutheran Theology (right) at the 2017 Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) banquet in Orlando, Florida.