The 20-member Next Generation Task Force has found that only one in three of the 18,000 teachers in schools operated by Synod congregations are Synod-certified. The task force is recommending steps to increase that ratio.
The task force, appointed by Synod President Gerald Kieschnick in 2002, met five times before finishing its work earlier this year.
In his cover letter with the task force’s report to the Synod, Kieschnick said that one of the “chief … challenges is the lack of religious education for many who teach in the schools of our Synod.
“We must regain the enormous potential our schools represent to the critical task of mission outreach in our beloved church,” Kieschnick said.
Dr. D. Ray Halm, the task force’s chairman and senior director of the Concordia University Education Network (CUENet), said that the statistical findings were the result of “the first comprehensive effort in our church to identify precisely the number of teachers in Lutheran classrooms who have not had formal theological training.”
Halm said that the task force worked with the school-ministry office of LCMS District and Congregational Services, districts and the Synod’s Office of Rosters and Statistics to arrive at its statistics.
The Next Generation Task Force is making five recommendations for congregations and others to offer as overtures to floor committees for this year’s Synod convention.
In summary, the recommendations call for:
- increasing the total number of synodically certified teachers by five percent per year over the next decade;
- changing Synod bylaws “to ease restrictions for enrollment in the Synod’s teacher-colloquy program,” which is offered by LCMS colleges and universities and CUENet;
- professional workshops “to be drawn from the regular colloquy program to introduce the non-Missouri Synod teacher in an LCMS classroom to the history, ethos, doctrine and practice of our Synod”;
- adjustments by congregations “to the salary of those teachers who have taken the extra education that synodical certification represents,” and for congregations “to support colloquy students financially in their studies and to issue calls to teacher-colloquy graduates …”; and
- urging “the congregations of the Synod to recruit future teachers for our Lutheran classrooms in greater numbers and to encourage their enrollment at one of our Concordia colleges or universities.”
Halm said the 20 members of the task force “are great people with superb credentials and hearts for the schools of our congregations.”
Posted Feb. 25, 2004