When Jane Jacob embarked on her Master of Theological Studies degree in 2013, she probably didn’t anticipate the twists and turns that were ahead of her. It was an article on apologetics in The Canadian Lutheran, written by seminary professor Dr Bill Mundt, that first drew her interest. She knew that it would be a challenge working the courses around her day job, while also continuing to care for her family. The fact that Concordia was gingerly stepping out into distance education made it possible, but not easy. Eight years later Jane would emerge as the first (and so far the only) seminary student to complete an entire degree online.
This wasn’t old-style correspondence study or a dubious internet diploma mill. Through internet videoconferencing Jane was able to join all of her classes in real time, to see the instructor and the other students, to listen and respond. She did the same work as everyone else in the class. Of course, she missed the theological chat in the lunch room and the rich daily worship life. She snatched at every opportunity to come to the seminary for retreats, conferences, and special services. Distance education certainly isn’t ideal, but it provides a unique opportunity to support laypeople (and even pastors) embedded in the far reaches of our church in a way that might not otherwise be possible.
No one expected that at the end of this long journey even her graduation ceremony would be “virtual”, but, over the past two years of pandemic conditions, students at Brock University’s convocations have not been able to walk across the stage. To make up for this “whimper” at the end of her student career, Dr Mundt suggested someone from the seminary might visit her home church to make a personal presentation. Pastor Siem Manna of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, London, Ontario, invited seminary president Dr Thomas Winger to preach and to present Jane with her diploma at the end of the service on 28 November, the first Sunday in Advent. Dr Winger enjoyed the fellowship of this warm congregation.
If you’re interested in deepening your understanding of God’s Word, get in touch with us about our Master of Theological Studies degree.