Final GRATSI class: Acts 1-9
Ongoing education is important for pastors in every country and church body. In WELS, the Grow in Grace team of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary serves pastors with opportunities and encouragement for such growth. In the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA), made up of the Malawi Synod and the Zambia Synod, the pastors are served by a program called GRATSI–Greater Africa Theological Studies Institute.
GRATSI is a joint effort of Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and the Lutheran Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia. The program calls for a cohort of 10-12 pastors (five or six from each synod) to take nine intensive courses at a rate of two courses per year. The courses are in the following areas:
- Two courses in Biblical studies (one Old Testament and one New Testament)
- Two courses in church history
- Two courses in systematic theology (doctrine)
- Two courses in practical theology (e.g. preaching, counseling, evangelism, etc.)
- One course on research and theological writing
Pastors who complete the courses and fulfill the requirements, including a final research paper after the coursework, earn a Bachelor of Divinity degree through Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
The first cohort of students completed their studies in 2014. The second cohort of students attended their 9th and final course in early August. The course was a New Testament Biblical Studies course on the first nine chapters of Acts. Presently the participants are working on their post-course assignment, and by the end of the year they will be submitting their final research paper.
Besides the ten GRATSI students, this class was also attended by four LCCA pastors who are working towards a Master’s of Theology degree, by a pastor from Cameroon, and by two pastors from Kenya. GRATSI truly is “greater Africa.”
From August 3-10, we studied Acts 1-9 in English and in Greek, beginning each day at 7:30 am and finishing at 4:00 pm. Evening time was for homework and fellowship.
During the week, short interviews with each participant revealed their appreciation for the course and the program. Here is a sample:
- “The Acts class has refreshed my Greek. I hope to use it more for the rest of my ministry.”
- “The Acts class has inspired me to serve as a shepherd and a leader among God’s people.”
- “I am going to go back and study Acts with my congregation, and we are going to rededicate ourselves to being Christ’s witnesses.”
- “The GRATSI program has been a lot of work, but it has helped me to be a better pastor for the people God has called me to serve. I have grown and I want to keep growing.”
I wish you could meet these men and hear their stories. They are humble, faithful shepherds under Christ. They are leading their congregations in the fight of faith. The people they serve with the gospel are blessed, just as you are blessed by the pastors and teachers who serve you.
Your prayers and your financial support of our seminary and world missions has played a significant role in the training and the continuing education of these pastors. Thank you so much. May your prayers and your support also be ongoing!
Professor Brad Wordell is the world mission seminary professor.