Seminary News -- Spring 2020
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Seminary continues to grow in many ways. The Fall quarter saw the completion of studies for Vicar Andrew Virkus who is eagerly looking forward to the next chapter in serving our Lord and the Church. At the completion of the Spring Quarter we are anticipating that Mr. Mike Callahan, Vicar of Our Redeemer’s Lutheran in Williston, ND under the supervision of The Rev. Steve Lundblom will complete his studies as well. The Winter and Spring Quarters brought us three international students and a student from the US who recognize the value of Confessional Lutheran education and the quality of online training offered by ALTS. Two of our students are from Ecuador and one from Wales. One of our international students is in the Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) program and two of our students are in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program on a journey to pastoral ministry. Additionally, our US student, is registered in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program. Growth is also occurring through refresher training by our Ministerium and Colloquy Candidates—their maturity and experience offer our students varied real world experience in Church Service through support and participation. The presence of the Ministerium and Colloquy Candidates enrich our programs and our students in ways too numerous to explain by mere words. We are surely blessed.
Seminary administration continues to grow and strengthen the Seminary itself. The Seminary has engaged Dr. Kathryn Helleman DMin., Director of Institutional Assessment & Planning, from the Winebrenner Theological Seminary, as a consultant. Dr. Helleman is assisting the Seminary administration in developing a strategy and assessing our preparedness to seek academic accreditation. Accreditation is a long and detailed process that can take five to ten years to complete with many waypoints and milestones along the way. We are exercising our due diligence with Dr. Helleman’s expertise to ensure we begin on the right path in this journey of institutional self-reflection and ultimate recognition of our programs.
The Seminary continues its review of Seminary operations and finances. The Seminary is in the early planning stages evaluating two new undergraduate programs, The Discipleship Program, and a Confessional Lutheran Baccalaureate Studies Degree and Certificate Program.
The Discipleship Program is the collaboration of The Rev. Dr. Curtis Leins, AALC Presiding Pastor and The Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes, Chair of Philosophy and Religion, Grand View University and Adjunct Professor of Theology, North American Lutheran Seminary. The focus of the Discipleship Program centers around a weeks’ long summer program for High School age students through adults to prepare them for Biblical academic study and fellowship.
“The point is to ground youth in the faith, bond with their peers, help them to deal with the secularism which they will encounter in wider society, grow in their walk with Jesus, and, when appropriate, be more comfortable with sharing their faith with others.”
– Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes.
This discipleship school would be a “seminary for the laity”, supported by visiting Pastors, Educators, and could function as an “Elderhostel” for retirees looking to enrich their own education experience. This program would then become a steppingstone for those students seeking a Confessional Lutheran Baccalaureate Degree and for some, a pathway into the Seminary itself, for others, a means in which to experience fellowship and sharing with a broader Christian community.
The Confessional Lutheran Baccalaureate Studies Degree and Certificate Program is Biblical education for individuals seeking a foundation in Biblical Studies for lifelong learning, without the secular noise found in other institutions. An education academy for our laity is a much-needed next step in the long-term investment of our youth and congregations of the AALC.
In the Fall issue of the Evangel, we announced that we were reviewing our Marketing and Advertising of the Seminary. Our laity recognized our need and through a very generous gift, we were able to contract with Wild Fig Marketing, Farmington MN, and Church Plant Media our website provider, to create an entirely new website for the American Lutheran Theological Seminary! Our website team, Lisa Cooper, Duane Kleven, Bonnie Ohlrich, Rev. Dean Stoner, and Rev. Dr. Tom Stover have been working diligently since December with updated content and visual improvements. We are projecting a “go-live” within the next few weeks!
July 1, 2020 marks the beginning of a new two-year budget cycle for the Seminary and the AALC. In collaboration with Dr. Dan Kruger, American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC) Treasurer, the AALC and ALTS National Staff, and others, we have conducted a detailed analysis of “the genuine cost of tuition” at the seminary. Tuition and fees paid by our students cover only a portion of the total actual costs of instruction at ALTS. The difference in costs comes from gifts by individuals, congregations, and the general fund of the AALC. Our analysis showed that in order to sustain low tuition to our students, ALTS must identify the actual cost of tuition to set quarterly fundraising goals to project the long-term health and growth of the Seminary to those individuals and congregations who directly support ALTS. The analysis focused only on those costs causally related to conducting classes and student administration—the “true” cost of tuition at ALTS is $2500 per student per class. The assessment is on par with other similar institutions and academic expectations.
The Commission for Higher Education (CHE) approved an increase in student tuition from $400 per class to $500 per class beginning July 1, 2020. The CHE also retained the cost for continuing education for qualified candidates at $50 per class. The detailed budget for ALTS will be presented at the next National General Convention, June 2020.
Fundraising Goal the First Two Quarters of 2020
Winter Quarter 2020
19 Students | 9 Continuing Education
Spring Quarter 2020
21 Students | 6 Continuing Education
The American Lutheran Theological Seminary is Christ Centered and Cross Focused on training future pastors for the American Association of Lutheran Churches, providing for sound Biblical education for the laity of our member congregations, and a beacon of light for the secular world. We welcome your support.
In humble service to our Lord
Rev. Dr. Tom Stover, President pro tem
Cell: (612) 240-0929
Mr. Duane Kleven, Administrator
Cell: (260) 210-2087