By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
— Proverbs 24:3-4
When the North American Lutheran Church was officially organized in 2010, students were encouraged to attend a seminary of their own choice.
It quickly became apparent, however, that the NALC needed to have its own seminary, so that future pastors might be educated more consistently and in accordance with the NALC's doctrinal positions.
Two events occurred early on to confirm this direction. One was a gift of $1 million from Tom and Sandy Smith for the NALC, 40 percent of which was designated for theological education. The second was the formation of a theological center at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. This theological center included NALC seminarians from Southern Seminary, with three faculty members who formerly taught at Southern.
In 2012, the NALC Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine recommended that a task force on theological education be named, to consider the formation of a seminary for the NALC. The executive council approved this recommendation, and the task force began its work, with Dr. Roy Harrisville III as chair.
The Task Force recommended a design for theological education: a Seminary Center at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and houses of studies at various locations throughout North America. The design recommended two houses of studies initially, one at Trinity School for Ministry and a second at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
The 2013 convocation adopted these recommendations and authorized a special campaign throughout the church to raise at least $1 million for the effort.
Following the convocation, the executive council appointed an interim Board of Regents, with bishop emeritus Paull Spring as chair. The House of Studies at Gordon-Conwell was officially inaugurated in October 2013, with Dr. Mary Havens as director and with Dr. David Yeago and Dr. Lamontte Luker as adjunct faculty. Dr. Amy Schifrin was named as President of the Seminary and director for the Seminary Center at Trinity School for Ministry.
At its 2014 convocation, the NALC elected a Board of Regents for the seminary. Dr. Schifrin was installed as Seminary President in October 2014, along with the installation of Dr. David Yeago as full professor at the Trinity School for Ministry House of Studies.
Following a series of consultations, the Board decided in 2015 to transfer the House of Studies in Charlotte, North Carolina, from the North American Lutheran Seminary to a Department of Lutheran Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Mary Havens served as director and faculty for this department.
In 2017 the Board adopted a strategic plan for the seminary. This document envisions significant increases in student enrollment for the next five years. The strategic plan also provides encouragement for the formation of extension centers and houses of studies as part of the seminary design. Currently the seminary is developing a series of degree arrangements with several church-related colleges regarding pre-theological studies.
The seminary has experienced consistent and generous financial support from the NALC, from its congregations and individual members. The NALC has designated the month of May as “seminary month,” during which special donations are solicited from all NALC congregations. For each of the past three years, NALC congregations have contributed more than $100,000 for the work of the seminary through this campaign.
For more information on how to support the work of the NALS click here.
2018 Graduates: Chris Boyd, Tony Scalisi, and Lynnae Douglass
2019 Graduates Top Row L-R: Jason Contangelo (MAR), Brittany Jones (MDiv), Justin Fisk (MDiv)
Bottom Row L-R: Ke (Ray) Zhu (MDiv), Janessa Fisk (MAR), Ryan Henkel (MDiv)
With The Rev. Dr. Amy Schifrin and Dr. David Yeago