International Sister Synod Focuses on Raising Leaders Through Nebraska Synod / IELU Partnership

That these last year and a half have been extraordinary and difficult is an understatement. Yet, as IELU (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Unida of Argentina and Uruguay) and IPC (Instituto para la Pastoral Contextual) we have reasons to rejoice. IPC was born in December 2015 by resolution of the Church General Board. Its mandate included production of resources and overviewing the theological training of lay people for multi-vocational, local, contextual ministry. Conversations and visits between IELU and the Nebraska Synod, and joint meetings between IPC, Bishop Brian and his assistants and our team, and the Synod’s PMA’s Steering Committee led to an increase in our mutual knowledge and, for IPC, to feeling tutored in this new path. This is one of the reasons for rejoicing. Another one, yet not the greatest reason, is the financial support from the Synod and the matching gift from the Steering Committee this year. Thank you ELCA Nebraska Synod, and thank God!

The greatest reason for rejoicing this year is that we were able to finally put together a study plan for our people, and we are proud of it! The program is called Animando Comunidades (AnCom for short, Active Communities in English) and it offers a two-year theoretical and practical program in one of several areas, such as preaching, community leadership or Christian education. The first year covers Lutheran theology (two courses) and formation for group facilitation. The ground idea is that the theological courses will offer Lutherans an up-to-date and adult reflection of what they studied in confirmation class; and for non-Lutherans it will  be a good introduction to our theology. And with regards to group facilitation, it’s our experience that ministers spend a lot of time trying to mediate in community conflicts and the sooner they have tools, the better. Also, by having a common trunk for all ministries (first year), our main aim is for our current and future leadership to form learning communities, sharing experiences and challenges and cross-fertilizing across the different regions and ministries. Eventually, there would be “brother-sisterhoods” of Christian education or youth ministers, besides the more traditional ones of female and male deacons, fostering mutual collaboration and production of appropriate Lutheran contextual resources.

During the second year of the program, people will have theoretical and practical classes in smaller groups, according to the area of their choice. Here, Bible will be an important component of all workshops, as well as other particular areas. For instance, youth leadership needs to be able to work well with the social media, while people who will preach need to have more tools in biblical interpretation. This is all exciting but also very new to us. Thus, we need to have it going for at least one more year before we can assess whether we were right on target or not. There were already a few surprises, such as a larger number of registered people, or their favorite ministerial areas. Please, pray that we listen to God’s Spirit and to the students’ needs and are able to offer them a sound and healthy theological formation!

Dear Nebraska Synod companions, thank you for all your companionship. It has been hard not to hug or visit each other in person, yet we know we are not alone in this endeavor. And if we can be of any help, please let us know!



Rev. Mercedes L. García Bachmann serves as the Director of Instituto para la Pastoral Contextual and holds a position as Distinguished Affiliate Faculty for the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.