(This article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of The Echo Magazine and was updated for Spring 2022.)
Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School is embarking on an exciting venture with a seminary in Londrina, Paraná State, in southwestern Brazil.
LBC | Capital has entered into a partnership with Faculdade Teológica Sul Americana (FTSA). Accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education is complete, and accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is in progress.
The partnership began when Dr. Art Hurtado (’17 & ’21), President of the Arthur D. and Dianna L. Hurtado Foundation, first met educators in Brazil in March 2016. FTSA leadership asked Hurtado if he knew of a seminary in the U.S. that could provide a beneficial partnership for the Brazilian students. “I know just the place for you,” Hurtado had answered.
“When talking about the right fit between two learning institutions, and particularly between two faith-based institutions, there are several factors to consider, which include their relational, philosophical, missional and theological fit,” Hurtado said. “It was clear from the beginning that both institutions would quickly develop a relationship based on high integrity. Their shared philosophical structure and their local, regional and global missions were key in moving forward. Moreover, and very importantly, their strong alignment theologically made for a natural fit in such a partnership. All of these factors made bringing the parties together very easy. Early on, there was a sense of shared purpose with the vision for a Doctor of Ministry program at FTSA that soon became the vision for LBC | Capital.”
With a history of philanthropic efforts and translation work in Latin America through the Foundation, Hurtado connected FTSA founder and Chancellor Dr. Antonio Barro with LBC | Capital faculty and administration. The initial LBC | Capital vision-casting group included President Dr. Thomas L. Kiedis and Dr. Rick Rhoads, then-director of LBC | Capital’s Doctor of Ministry program, as well as Dr. Mark Meyer, PhD in Biblical Studies Program Director.
“This is an exciting opportunity made all the better by my long friendship and deep respect for Dr. Antonio Barro,” Kiedis said. “FTSA has been doing great kingdom work for years!”
LBC | Capital Former Interim Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program Dr. Kevin Gushiken is co-leading the initiative with Barro and Hurtado. Critical in this process has been accreditation and curriculum design. “We are currently in process of finalizing curriculum that both equips leaders for ministry impact and is contextualized for the Brazilian culture,” Gushiken said.
The LBC | Capital partnership with FTSA will offer a program leading to a Doctor of Ministry degree to interested ministry leaders in Brazil. FTSA currently enrolls 2,000 students, many of whom have aspirations for a doctorate, which is highly respected in Brazil. As few theological institutions in Brazil offer a Doctor of Ministry, this program will fill a deep and important void in educating pastors and leaders across the country.
Classes will be delivered through an online portal. Although many of the Brazilian students are familiar with English, the completely Portuguese program will enable them to study in their native language. The hybrid-style program is entering its final stage of development and is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2022, delayed slightly from the original plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first cohort of up to 15 students is being recruited and selected from the large pastoral base. The program will require 34 credits to be completed over approximately three years among coursework, research and dissertation.
“Our new DMin in Brazil is a strategic opportunity for LBC | Capital to fulfill the Great Commission, to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20),” said Meyer, a longtime mentor and friend of Hurtado and his dissertation advisor. “This program will prepare pastor-teachers to disciple and equip countless others across Brazil, Latin America and the world (Ephesians 4:12). It is LBC | Capital’s first major foray into disciple-making through a foreign language, Portuguese, and it will serve as a prototype for disciple-making in other languages, such as Spanish and Chinese.”
Added Barro about the mutually beneficial partnership, “Over the years I have seen a change in the landscape of Christianity in Brazil. More and more, we see people turning to the Lord, which has resulted in the need to offer more advanced levels of training for our pastors. When we have well-prepared pastors, then we also see the influence it has on equipping the saints with the full knowledge of God’s Word. This is vitally needed so that they are able to take the truth of the gospel into the communities in which they live. Preparing the saints to be the salt and light of the world is our focus.
“When we learned about LBC | Capital and got to know the leaders and professors,” Barro added, “we realized that God had brought us together for just this purpose. Indeed, LBC | Capital has a wonderful Doctor of Ministry program, and together with our staff, we are adapting the program to meet the contextual, language and spiritual needs of our pastors here in Brazil.”
For the instruction, LBC | Capital faculty will be paired with Barro and the FTSA faculty. After a period of time, LBC faculty will hand off the courses to the FTSA professors to enable the program to be self-sustaining in the future.
“Brazil is often neglected as the vast mission field that it is,” said Hurtado, who hopes to defend his dissertation in late spring or early summer of 2021. “For years, FTSA has been the beacon of theological and missional education in the southwest province of Paraná. Their outreach in the formation of a vast number of pastors and Christian evangelical educators is well-recognized. Moreover, they have one of only five Master of Theology programs in Brazil that is government-approved and accredited. Providing them with a Doctor of Ministry program was the next natural step and will afford hundreds of pastors and leaders the opportunity to take the next step in their formal education, which is desperately needed.
“The impact of this program will resound throughout their churches and much farther into their communities,” Hurtado continued. “Its potential impact reaches far beyond Paraná toward the region of Sao Paolo—a city of approximately 20 million. Eventually, its existence and excellence will become known across all of Brazil.”
Gushiken added that benefits abound for both FTSA and LBC | Capital.
“This partnership will be a tremendous benefit as LBC | Capital seeks to equip leaders for greater ministry effectiveness around the world,” he said. “The goal of this partnership is to enable Brazilian ministry leaders to think critically and strategically about the current struggles and challenges to the Church and the gospel. In the end, the hope is that this program will serve to strengthen Christian leadership in Brazil.”
Gushiken also noted that the arrangement is not simply a matter of LBC | Capital “exporting” the program to Brazil; rather it is about partnering with FTSA to create a pathway for further equipping ministry leaders.
“We live in a global society,” Gushiken said. “As LBC | Capital partners with leaders and organizations around the world, we participate in God’s plans for the world. As well, by interacting with leaders from different cultures, we enlarge our understanding of society which in turn serves to strengthen the development of our own missional and leadership curriculum.”