Theological Education

The banner picture above shows Pastor Ron Rall leading a special workshop for pastors at Timothy Lutheran Seminary, Birip (TLS). Over the past fifteen to sixteen years, Pastor Rall and his wife Mary Anne have repeatedly visited the Gutnius Lutheran Church of PNG (GLCPNG) to lead workshops for pastors in the GLC and encourage them in their ministries. That work has also included helping out at Timothy Lutheran Seminary. This page includes an overall report of that effort and accompanying pictures, as well as several detailed reports.

In 2004, Mary Anne and I returned to Papua New Guinea at the request of the Papua New Guinea Mission Society (PNGMS) to undertake a survey of the Gutnius Lutheran Church (GLC) to help PNGMS get a better idea of how to support the ministry of the church.  We were not focused on theological education in this survey, but there were clearly some needs to be addressed:

            l. Continuing education for pastors was essential.  Many pastors (and evangelists) had never had any in-service training since their graduations from seminary.

            2. Relationships between the Bible schools and the Timothy Lutheran Seminary was not well-planned and needed to be better coordinated so that the Bible schools could become effective preparation for seminary training.

            3. Various “movements” within and outside the GLC had produced confusion among many Christians with regard to what was true and what was false.

            4. Many of the pastors and evangelists were ill-equipped to deal with the false teachers and prophets that had emerged (and continue to emerge) in the Enga Province and elsewhere.

Our focus in 2004, and since we began returning to PNG yearly, has been to offer workshops and training courses for pastors and evangelists.  We have also prepared some booklets to distribute to the participants on topics such as: Baptism, the Holy Spirit, Stewardship, Preaching (Autim Tok Bilong God), Worship and Liturgy, Sanguma(Witchcraft) and Pillars of the Reformation, as well as other brochures that expose the false teachings of the Moses Kili Movement.

Most of the worship services and courses that we conducted were in the rural GLC circuits, and hundreds of people attended. We didn’t limit participants to pastors and evangelists, so lay people came in droves to hear and learn and ask questions.  This was a great opportunity to learn more about the need for continuing theological education from the questions people asked.

There was never enough time in the 4-6 weeks we were in the country to meet all the requests for us to come to various circuits and congregations, but we scheduled as many workshops as we possibly could.  There were also numerous opportunities to preach at churches each Sunday, as well as for baptismal services, funerals, and other special celebrations.

After several visits between 2004 and 2011, we have returned yearly since 2012 doing continuing theological education, visiting every region and every circuit to carry out this ministry.  Since 2018, when I was called by the Office of International Mission (LCMS), we have been more heavily involved in teaching at Timothy Lutheran Seminary.  We have been teaching 2 terms at the Seminary each year but have not ceased going out to the more remote areas to conduct workshops.  It is clear that our ministry at the Seminary is essential for the preparation of well-prepared pastors for the GLC, particularly since there is no full-time missionary teaching there. 

The political situation in the Gutnius Lutheran Church affects every aspect of its ministry, but we feel that it is essential to prepare and support men to preach the Gospel, politics and false prophets notwithstanding.  Detailed Trip Reports from selected years are linked below