Lutheran Theological Seminary, Tshwane (Pretoria, South Africa)
February 28-March 18, 2014
Along with colleague, Dr. John Nordling I was pleased to be able to return to South Africa to teach at Lutheran Theological Seminary. I taught a two-week course on adult Christian education using my book, Didache as the text for the course. Fifteen students (ministerial and deaconess students along some non-traditional students were enrolled in the course which met for three hours each day for a ten day period. A variety of African countries in addition to South Africa were represented in the class: Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Botswana.
In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I preached three times while in South Africa. On Sunday, March 2 I preached and conducted a catechetical review for the English congregation, Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Arcadia, which meets on campus. I preached for the morning chapel service at LTS on March 7 and 14. I also attended Lenten services at St. Paul Lutheran Church on March 5 and 12.
My deep thanks to Trinity Lutheran Church in Great Falls, Montana and their pastor, Pastor Gerald Paul for providing the funds to purchase the ticket for the trip. Without their assistance, these teaching trips to South Africa would not be possible. I am also grateful to Bethany Lutheran Church, Naperville, Illinois and their pastors (Reverends Rossow, Fisk, and Schumacher) and the LWML at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Pagosa Springs, Colorado (Pastor Andrew Packer) for providing funds which enabled me to take approximately 100 pounds of books for distribution to students and for the seminary library.
The LTS library continues to grow. It is one of my goals to bring newly published Lutheran books to LTS on each on my trips. With this trip, the library now has a full set of the American Edition of Luther’s Works, the English edition of Bonhoeffer’s works, all of the Sasse volumes available in English, in addition to several other recently published volumes in the four theological disciplines. The library building (St. Augustine Library) is running out of adequate space and needs to be expanded and weatherized to housing our growing collection. Dr. Weber and I discussed this as a possible project for the Saint Philip Lutheran Mission Society.
Several LTS students have the capacity to benefit from further education at Concordia Theological Seminary. A short-term project in this regard would be bringing Enoch Macben to Fort Wayne to “shadow” Dr. Nordling for the fall quarter Greek class. Mr. Macben has already completed a Master’s degree in theology at the University of Pretoria and is currently teaching Greek at LTS. Time with Dr. Nordling would enhance and sharpen his teaching skills. I was an external examiner for Mr. Macben’s thesis on “Paul, Luther, and the New Perspective” which he successfully defended at the University of Pretoria.
It is good to see LTS developing connections with the Malagasy Lutheran Church. With funding from the Malagasy Lutheran Mission Society (Pastor Jeff Kuddes) there are now two Malagasy pastors studying at LTS.
Spending time with Dr. Weber provided the opportunity to reflect on other projects for the future. With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming up in three years, we spoke of ways in which the seminary as well as the LCSA might commemorate this event. We are currently exploring the possibility of a lecture series with Dr. Oswald Bayer in conjunction with the University of Pretoria in 2017. We also spoke of the possibility for a CTS student to do a “summer vicarage” at LTS at some point in the future.
I will be making a short trip back to South Africa (April 24-28) for the ordination of Jacob Corzine and the inauguration of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Pretoria. My next teaching trip to LTS is scheduled for August 15-29, 2014 when I will teach pastoral theology.
A special word of thanks is due to Dr.and Mrs. Wilhelm Weber for their generous hospitality as Dr. Nordling and I were their guests for two weeks. Their kindness and friendship is deeply treasured.
Prof. John T. Pless