LUTHERAN LAY ACADEMY
A Lutheran Lay Academy for the systematic training of lay persons had been discussed and debated for a long time in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana (ELCG) to enhance parochial training which had been attempted in Parishes in different forms over the years. These intermittent, ad hoc training and practical learning as the opportunity provided, equipped and enabled the lay people for their active involvement in the life of the Congregational ministries of the Church. It is widely recognized that a trained laity is essential for the Church to carry out its mission. To do so effectively the lay leaders must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitude for church ministry, and be provided the required resources. This is the general objective of a Lutheran Lay Academy in the ELCG.
The current Lutheran Lay Academy (LLA) was initiated by Executive Council of the Church and the then President of the ELCG, the Rev. Roy Thakurdyal, and was launched in August of 2005 with forty students on roll in the two branches, one each in Georgetown and New Amsterdam. The courses taught during the two year programme are Theology, Biblical Studies, Church History, Homiletics, Worship, and Liturgy. The Pastors of the Church serve as lecturers/resource persons on these subjects, supplemented by resource theological experts from external sources including Wartburg Theological Seminary, and United Theological College of UWI.
Nineteen students graduated in 2008, and another group of 12 students completed this programme in July 2013. Some of the graduates from the 2008 group were assessed, and 16 accepted the call to serve as Commissioned Deacons. The Lutheran World Federation, Florida-Bahamas Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – Division For Global Mission have all contributed significant resources to enable the establishment and functioning of the LLA.
DIACONATE TRAINING LEADING TO ORDINATION
The steady migration of our Pastors to North America, a situation which creates a constant shortage of Pastors, and in order to address the personnel, pastoral resources, and the seemingly on-going “maintenance ministry” in our Church, the Church re-introduced, and established a more active lay and diaconate training programme leading to the pastoral ministry with the hope of deepening and widening our ministries. In 2010, sixteen Deacons were Commissioned and authorized by the Church to administer the Word and the Holy Sacraments joining 3 earlier commissioned Deacons.
At the opening service of the 2013 Convention, four Deacons were ordained, joining the two previously ordained - one in 2010 and the other in 2012. These are professional persons, trained within the ELCG, four of whom serve as full time Pastors, and two serve as bi-vocational Pastors. They face the challenge of transitioning fully into the pastoral office and role, to be Shepherds, working in harmony with former colleague Deacons under the authority of the Parish Councils and Congregations.
The Ministerium, under the Chair of the President of the ELCG, and at joint meetings with the Diaconate, provides the opportunity for group study and mutual edification on matters pertaining to Pastoral vocation and practice. Its responsibilities include organizing conferences, study groups, refresher courses, common worship, corporate study, retreats and fellowship for Ministers, Deacons, and laypersons. The Ministerium also provides for continuing education and training and development initiatives for Ministers, Deacons, and laypersons of the Church.
LUTHERAN CAMP AND RETREAT
Church camps and retreats are used as important aspects of church life for our youth, women, and men ministries of the ELCG. Through these activities people are renewed and enriched in their faith, commitment and zeal for the church's mission. The Lutheran Camp and Retreat Centre at Skelton, and other external facilities have been utilized for these events.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana has three organizations which cater to ministry among the children, youth, women and men. The women and youth ministries have long been established in the church. These are active organizations. They have several activities every year including camps, retreats, services and fellowship days. They function at the congregational, parish and national levels.
National CommitteesThe National Committees of the Church are:
- Mission and Evangelism
- Christian Education and Literature
- Finance and Stewardship
- Interpretation on constitutional and doctrinal matters
- Church Vocations
- Youth Ministry
(Samuel J. Goolsarran – 1st. November 2013)