By the Rev. Dr. Maurice Lee
As everyone involved with the North American Lutheran Seminary knows, training for ministry in the church is a complex and demanding commitment. The dollars and years required are not only directly connected to the cost and time of education, but also involve relocating, often accompanied by family, to a new, temporary home—these are among the challenges faced by those seeking to follow God’s call.
From the NALS’ beginning, we have worked to make faithful, fruitful seminary education more practical and affordable for students preparing for pastoral and other leadership work, without sacrificing either rigorous academic standards or the relational depth and spiritual formation that come from studying and worshiping on campus with fellow students, faculty, and staff.
Scholarships, made possible by many generous donors, along with other means of financial support, constitute one important way in which we can help our students. A strategic balance between online (“distance”) offerings and residential requirements represents another. A third way, common in disciplines such as engineering and nursing, is a closer integration between the undergraduate and the postgraduate stages of education, thereby eliminating a certain amount of unnecessary repetition—and so, in the case of theological education, saving on the time and cost involved in obtaining the Master of Divinity degree.
Although the North American Lutheran Church does not have any formally affiliated undergraduate institutions, over the past few years the NALS has established cooperative arrangements of this kind with Concordia College New York (Bronxville, New York) and Concordia University St. Paul (St. Paul, Minnesota). Now we are pleased to announce the recent joint approval of another such arrangement with Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Participating in the discussions that led to this agreement were Dr. Mark Mattes and Dr. Ken Jones, professors of theology and philosophy at Grand View University; Dr. Carl Moses, Grand View’s provost and vice president for academic affairs; and the Rev. Dr. Amy Schifrin, NALS president.
“The Grand View University Department of Theology,” writes Dr. Mark Mattes, “is honored and delighted to partner with the North American Lutheran Seminary to provide an accelerated program for future pastors and church workers in the NALC. The Grand View Theology Department is committed to the mission of the North American Lutheran Seminary and seeks to equip students for thriving, innovative, and resilient ministries from within a doctrinally orthodox perspective. We are excited about the future of this partnership!”
Grand View’s theology department offers courses such as Old Testament, New Testament, Early Christian Thinkers, Life and Thought of Luther, and Worship and the Arts—topics integral to the NALS curriculum. Students completing a Bachelor in Theology at Grand View will be given credit for up to seven undergraduate courses (taken at an appropriately advanced level) toward the requirements for an MDiv at the NALS, potentially reducing the total time in school by an entire year—and saving the student roughly $30,000.
In addition to making a quality seminary education more accessible to NALC pastors-in-training, partnerships such as these give the NALS and the NALC opportunities to work alongside fellow Lutherans in service to the gospel and in pursuit of our mission: forming evangelical, orthodox, and confessional workers for faithful ministry through Word and Sacrament in Christ’s church. With our colleagues at Grand View University, we at the NALS are looking forward to a new season of educating leaders with a passion for God’s kingdom.
In the coming months, the NALS is also looking forward to a formalized partnership with Concordia Edmonton, a Lutheran seminary in western Canada. We are excited to work in tandem with Concordia Edmonton so that we can more readily serve NALC candidates and potential candidates in the upper northwest.