2014 - 57
Graduates gather outside the ILSN Mission Centre, Chinandega (Rev. Sang-Rog Choi of Vegreville, AB, middle)

Concordia has been involved with the mission and church in Nicaragua almost since its inception. The LCC website notes:

Our Nicaraguan mission began in 1997 after Lutheran Church–Canada received an invitation to share the Gospel in this Central American nation. Our first missionary was Pastor Sándor Argüello, a Nicaraguan refugee. His first months were tough. But, following Hurricane Mitch in 1998, people needed emergency help. The church responded. Arguello spread the Gospel, and God opened hearts and built a community of believers.

Pastor Argüello is a 1995 graduate of our seminary.

Nicaragua Graduation
Dr Winger (left), ILSN President Rev. Marvin Picado (centre), and Rev. Nolan Astley (right) present diplomas to the graduates

As the mission grew and more workers were needed, suitable candidates were identified and Dr Roger Humann, on behalf of LCC, organised classes and arranged for LCC pastors and professors to teach them. In recent years, owing to Dean Humann’s declining health, LCC Mission Director Dr Leonardo Neitzel has supervised the programme. CLTS has once again been requested to take a more active role in ministerial preparation. On 25 January 2014, Dr Thomas Winger, seminary president, preached at the graduation of the current class in which 12 pastoral graduates and 18 deaconesses were given their diplomas and vicarage (internship) assignments.

The LCC website explains the process:

missionaries work with community members to identify people who are eligible to serve God. Once identified, students enrol in the theological education programme, established by our synod’s mission and Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catharines, Ont. Of course, the missionary’s work is not yet complete. Students carry out vicarages and internships within the mission congregation.

Nicaragua meeting with pastorsTaking advantage of the large gathering from around the church on the festive day, Dr Winger and Rev. Warren Hamp met with the pastors to discuss their desire for continuing education and the possibility of another seminary cohort. At the top of their list is learning some Greek to help them with Scripture interpretation and preaching.

Dr Winger was not the only Canadian in the country. The graduation followed the synod convention, starting 9 January, and the dedication of a new church on 12 January, attended by team members from Waterloo, Elmira, Oshawa, Kingsville, Hamilton, and Mississauga (Ontario), who had arrived to continue construction of the new church building in Telica, a rural community just outside the city of León. They also led VBS work with children at four locations in and around León. In Nicaragua, the public school system’s Christmas break continues until February, giving children free time to attend the classes. Reports indicate that up to 600 children were expected to participate. Following the Fourth Convention of the Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua (founded in 2008), LCC President Robert Bugbee flew to neighbouring Honduras to visit sites where the Nicaraguan church hopes to expand its outreach.

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