LLDP – Part II

In the FELSISA Witness June 2020 edition, I reported on my participation in the Lutheran Leadership Development Program (LLDP) – an initiative of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) in cooperation with Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), Concordia Publishing House (CPH), and Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne (CTSFW). At that time, I had completed half of the course requirements.

Finally, after a two-year postponement (caused by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions), the program resumed again with its fourth session. Two courses, “Liturgy and Hymnody” and “The Lord´s Supper”, were taught at the International Lutheran Centre (Old Latin School) in Wittenberg, Germany in February 2022. Excursions to significant historic locations in Wittenberg, Erfurt, Leipzig and Wartburg Castle were added.

The fifth session was held in Fort Wayne in July 2022. Two very practical courses were offered: “Strategic Planning and Task Management” and “Budgeting and Financial Accountability”. Looking back on the entire program, I must say that these were particularly helpful and a highlight. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from the experienced presenters of these courses. One of these speakers, Dr Jeff Skopak, is scheduled to present, God willing, at the upcoming Synod in May. During our two-week stay, we were further introduced to the leadership of two very successful initiatives within the LCMS: Concordia Plans (a retirement organisation) and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. These support pastors and other positions employed by the church and fund congregational work as well as various mission and outreach projects in the LCMS and beyond.

LLDP participants visit with President Tom Egger during a trip to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri (November 2022).

The sixth session was held in November 2022 at a LCMS congregation in Troy, Illinois. Again, two courses were offered: “The Office of Holy Ministry” and “Lutheran Mission, Ecclesiology, and Ecumenism”. Since we were in the area we visited the LCMS International Centre in St. Louis and also the Concordia Seminary. The program concluded with a commencement, whereby a Certificate of Theology in Lutheran Leadership on behalf of the ILC was awarded.

Looking back on the entire LLDP, I must say that it challenged me in many ways, but also shaped me. What I take away from it will significantly influence my work as a pastor. The benefits of having had the privilege to participate in this program are many, and I am sure that I will take even more positives from it as time goes on. To name a few: It gave me time to reflect on the demands and challenges in the congregations and in the FELSISA. Often one is overwhelmed by everyday tasks, and very often problems remain unsolved. Here I had the time to step out a little and look at everything from a different perspective, as a challenge to work on solutions, develop strategies and define steps. Second, I realised that the problems we face here are not as unique as we often perceive them to be, but that the solutions to those problems are often different.

LLDP participants enjoy a moment of laughter together at a cookout hosted by ILC Treasurer, Alison Blodgett (July 2022).

I have learned valuable skills related to teaching and leadership. I have learned that leadership and teaching often go hand in hand. The contact with leaders of other church institutions was very beneficial. Getting to know them and walking a section of the road together was a great opportunity that conferences, synods, and short meetings cannot provide. Also, contact with and learning from leadership in academia, experienced pastors and professors – what a great privilege! In seminary, you spent a lot of time in the classroom, learning from great teachers, but the context in which you worked was often imagined, it was in the future, the field of work was not yet defined. One imagined the circumstances, one thought about solutions to problems one might face. Not so with this program. I had the opportunity to reflect on concrete problems and challenges, to discuss and collaborate with professors and esteemed colleagues about solutions.

I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given. I wish this program God’s richest blessings and that many more will have the opportunity and privilege to learn and collaborate with men of God through this LLDP and learn to lead and lead with the gifts God entrusts to His Church.

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