Brock’s on-campus Lutheran seminary

The Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, located on Brock’s campus behind the Earp Residence, shares many facilities and resources with the greater Brock community, and is available as a space for Brock students to explore and use. However, it is also an area of campus that many students don’t even realize exist.

“We want to be a welcoming community. People often don’t realize we’re here because we’re over on the corner of campus,” said Revd Dr. Thomas Winger, President of the Seminary. “We want to emphasize how welcoming we are.”

The seminary began in 1976 and was located at the bottom of the Glenridge hill. In 1982, they made an affiliation agreement with Brock, and moved on campus in 1983. Winger said that this kind of agreement is not unusual, as many universities in Canada have denominational seminaries on their campuses with whom they are affiliated.

The Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary has been a part of the Brock campus since 1983 / Taylor Wallace

The Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary has been a part of the Brock campus since 1983 / Taylor Wallace

While some students may be unsure about the seminary’s role on campus, Winger emphasized that students are welcome to come by the seminary to see and use some of their many facilities.

For example, the seminary features a library with a focus on theology, particularly the reformation era.

While the catalogue is not synchronized with the James A. Gibson Library, they are in regular communication with them to make sure that their collections don’t overlap.

Winger said that students of any discipline are welcome to study in the library, browse through the collection, and sign out books. Because the library is smaller, it can sometimes provide a more comfortable and quiet study space for students who don’t feel like studying elsewhere on campus.

Winger said that the library’s collection would be of particular use to History students or any students studying the Reformation period, as this was a period when religion and culture were so intertwined that it is hard to study one without knowing about the other.

In addition to the library, the Seminary also offers services every weekday at 10:00 a.m. that are open to everyone. The chapel is also a prominent space that is often shared with the greater university community.

The chapel was designed to be shared with the Department of Music, so it was acoustically designed for chamber music and performance. Because of this, the seminary has a very close relationship with the Department of Music, and many recitals have taken place there.

Academically, the seminary offers two degrees, a four-year Master of Divinity for people who intend to become ordained as pastors and a two-year Master of Theology, which is a more general degree.

Students don’t need to study theology at the undergraduate level in order to enroll in these programs; they just need to have a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.

The seminary is associated with Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), and their primary mission is to prepare people to be ordained in the Lutheran Church. However, while this is their primary mission, Winger said that they also have many other goals, and “offer theological studies in Christianity to anyone who needs them.”

They also provide an academic approach to religion that is missing elsewhere at Brock. Although their religion is confined to Lutheran-focused Christian studies (with the exception of one world religions course about viewing world religions through a Christian perspective), meaning they are not a fully religious studies department, they do offer some theological education. Faculty in the department are also established and accredited scholars who regularly publish academic articles and books. The seminary has its own academic journal, the Lutheran Theological Review.

Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario

One limitation faced by the seminary is that LCC only ordains men, so women cannot be ordained in the church after studying there. However, as a public institution, they accept students regardless of their gender. This struggle is reflected in two contradictory statements on their website: their admissions section says that they have a “Non-Discriminatory Admission Policy,” while their “About” page says that the primary purpose of the seminary is “to prepare men for the pastoral ministry of Lutheran Church-Canada.”

Therefore, while women are more than welcome to study at the seminary, and can use this education towards other goals besides LCC ministry (such as being ordained into a different church or pursuing other theological goals), they are not permitted to be part of the “primary” purpose of the seminary and cannot seek the future of Lutheran ordination on which the seminary focuses. This conflict means that the seminary has the potential to be considered discriminatory or problematic, despite the “Non-Discriminatory” admission policy that they outline.

“I want to emphasize that women are allowed to study here, and we have women studying here,” said Winger in response to this concern. “We just can’t ordain them into LCC. However, women can study here, then get ordained into a different church, or go somewhere else with the education they get here. They are more than welcome, and they do study here.”

Services offered by the seminary to all Brock students, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in the seminary’s courses, include the daily services, the Lutheran Student Fellowship (a student group who participates in Bible studies and social events), and the library.

For more information about the Lutheran Student Fellowship, you can contact Reverend Kurt Lantz at klantz@brocku.ca. For more information about the seminary in general, Winger can be contacted at twinger@brocku.ca.

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