The Northwestern Minnesota Synod’s School for Lay Ministry’s purpose is to provide Adult Christian Education in the areas of Worship, Old and New Testament, Lutheran Confessions, Pastoral Care, and Church History. To do this, we draw on the gifts of seminary professors, those who serve in specialized ministries, and others.
What is expected? While some of the participants of the program do fill in for pastors or serve congregations in other ways, that is not the expectation. Many come to learn more and grow in their faith. We would love to see you there!
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.
We believe in the life-long calling to live out our baptismal covenant, to learn, to grow, to serve, and to love one another. Our synods’ school for lay ministry embraces the vital ministry of helping God’s people to discern and use their gifts with confidence within their families, friends, congregations, and communities.
We seek to deepen the understanding of theologically-curious laity; and empower lay people to serve their congregations as life-long learners, educators, friendly visitors to those in need, evangelists, lay preachers, worship leaders, musicians, ministers of prayer, and other pathways to serving God and neighbor.
The present program originated in the western North Dakota District, ALC, in the 1980s. It was a program to equip lay people to preach where ordained people were unavailable. Neighboring synods with similar needs founded similar programs. Parishes in Northwestern Minnesota heard about this opportunity and immediately after the formation of the ELCA in 1988, the NWMN synod established a school of lay ministry. It was called the “GIFTS” program.
In 2011, the Northwestern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota synods joined together to share and grow this ministry. In addition to supporting lay preaching, the program now provides education for lay people for their own purposes and edification, as well as equips lay people to serve their neighbors as Bible study leaders, Sunday School teachers, parish visitors, music leaders, and in many other ways.
Completion of the certificate program is not necessarily the goal of people who attend School for Lay Ministry classes. If a participant wishes to work toward a certificate, they must complete of all six categories required for eligibility (Old Testament, New Testament, Worship and Liturgy, Pastoral Care, Lutheran Confessions, and Church History). They must also attend at least one session of a Luther Seminary’s School for Lay Ministry classes, which can help fulfill one curriculum category requirement.
People often continue attending classes after they obtain a certificate as part of their life-long learning to live out their baptismal covenant.
Students should keep track of their own credits, and when they have completed the 6 course categories and seminary session, they can submit a request to the School of Lay Ministry Advisory Committee for approval to receive a certificate. The certificate grants no special privileges.
Classes are offered at a central location three times per year. Courses are usually offered in October, February, and April. Courses are usually held from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on a Saturday.
Over a two year period, courses are offered in:
- Old Testament
- New Testament
- Worship and Liturgy
- Pastoral Care
- Lutheran Confessions
- Church History
To teach these classes, we draw on the gifts of seminary professors, those who serve in specialized ministries, and others.
Classes will be held at Lutheran Social Services headquarters in Fargo (3911 20th Ave S. Fargo, ND 58103).
October 24, 2015: Early Church History
Rev. Dr. Paul Baglyos Director for Missional Leadership for Region 3 of ELCA
February 6, 2016: Lutheran Confessions
Rev. Dr. Mark D. Tranvik Professor of Religion at Augsburg College
April 9, 2016: Book of Revelation
Rev. Dr. Craig Koester Vice President of Academic Affairs, Professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary
At present, the fee is $50 which includes morning refreshments and a noon meal.
If you or someone you know would like to participate in the certification program, download the School for Lay Ministry Program Application Form: PDF | DOCX Please fill out and mail to the NWMN Synod Office.
For more detailed information about the School for Lay Ministry, please download the brochure. Please print and share this brochure in your congregation or with people in whom you see the gifts and desire to be a part of this ministry.
School for Lay Ministry
C/O Northwestern Minnesota Synod
Moorhead, MN 56562
NWMN Synod Office: (218) 299-3019
Or you may contact:
Pastor Laurie Natwick
Pastor Sue Koesterman