Courses

The courses are structured with two groups of students in mind.

The “Core Courses” are for students who are seeking deeper knowledge and experience in three specific focus areas, or tracks, of faith. These tracks are the Bible, Church History and defining and deepening your spirituality or discovering spiritual practices in Faith & Spirituality.

TRACK 1 – BIBLETRACK 2 – CHURCH HISTORYTRACK 3 – FAITH & SPIRITUALITY
Old TestamentChurch HistoryLiturgy & Life
New TestamentIntro to TheologyFaith & Spiritually
Lutheran Confessions
Core Classes for First and Second Year Students
NOTE: Not all courses are offered yearly. Courses are offered on a bi-yearly rotation.

Although the course structure is set up for students to complete all three tracks in two years, it is possible to create a flexible schedule that completes the Core courses at a pace that works for you. When all Core courses are complete, it’s a time to gather and celebrate this milestone in your faith formation!

“Continuing Education” is the other group of courses offered at ECSW Lay School of Ministry. The subject of these courses often encompass more timely events or dive deeper in conversations that students are pondering. Students are not required to be completed with core classes to participate in these courses. In fact, some students have started with a Continuing Education course, found the experience engaging, and enrolled in Core Courses the following year.

Course offerings for 2021-2022 School Year

* CORE COURSES *

TRACK 1 – BIBLE
Old Testament
Friday, 6:10 P.M. – 8:20 P.M.
Instructor: Rev. Dr. Ann Fritschel

This course offers a seminary level, but very user friendly, class on the content of the major portions of the Old Testament. Students can anticipate growing in their knowledge of the Old Testament and how the Old Testament shaped the New Testament, in their enthusiasm for engaging God’s word as well as growing in their own faith walk.

TRACK 2 – CHURCH HISTORY & THEOLOGY
Intro to Theology (was Systematic Theology)
Saturday, 9:00 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.
Instructor: Bishop Anne Edison-Albright

Theology of the Cross: God in Unexpected Times and Places
Our theology course this year will explore what many name as the distinctive heart of Lutheran thinking about God, Jesus and how we are called to be church in the world: theology of the cross. We believe that God is profoundly present in the times, places and people we’d least expect an all-powerful deity to be, for example: born in a manger, eating with outcasts and sinners, and dying on a cross. Through our readings and discussions, we will explore how this theology impacts all aspects of our lived theology: how we think, talk and teach about God, the questions we ask, and how we live out our faith in daily life, especially at times of suffering and loss. Our main texts will be The Cross in Our Context: Jesus and the Suffering World by Douglas John Hall, The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective by Terence E. Fretheim, and A Witness: The Haiti Earthquake, a Song, Death and Resurrection by Renee Splichal Larson.

TRACK 3 – WORSHIP, FAITH & SPIRITUALITY
Liturgy & Life
Saturday, 10:40 A.M. – 12:10 P.M.
Instructor: Pastor Jenn Collins

The word “Liturgy” comes from the Greek meaning, “the work of the people.” Together with ministers of Word and Sacrament, the Christian assembly gathers, shares in the work of hearing the Word, receiving the meal, and is sent in peace to serve the Lord. This rhythm cultivates praise of God and renewal for faith and life. Through this course, we will examine the Use of the Means of Grace, discover different sources and functions of various portions of the liturgy, the history of rituals for life passages (baptisms, weddings, funerals, healing service), and the origin and depth of attending to feasts and seasons throughout the liturgical year. Students who take this course will be prepared to assist in worship leadership and planning in their own congregational settings.

Faith & SpiritualitySpiritual Disciplines: A Journey to Freedom and Love
Friday, 8:30 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.
Instructor: Pastor Cheryl Davis

Most of us long for greater freedom and love in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and we often wish we could better understand God’s will for our lives. Spiritual disciplines are a vital part of answering these heartfelt needs. This year’s Faith and Spirituality class will place focus on this aspect of our faith lives.

We will study the writing of Christian authors from the early church up through contemporary Christian writers. Using the text Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, we’ll explore and practice Inward Disciplines, Outward Disciplines and Corporate Disciplines as we dig into scriptures that correspond to them.

In an atmosphere of openness and honesty, the class will include lecture combined with large and small group discussion and prayer.

* CONTINUING EDUCATION COURSES *

Christianity in Contemporary America
Saturday, 10:40 A.M. – 12:10 P.M.
Instructor: Rev. Mark Granquist, Professor of the History of Christianity, Luther Seminary

This elective course would examine in some depth the history and development of Christianity in America, focusing on the period after 1945. The course would begin with a quick survey of the development of Christianity in America from the seventeenth century to the twentieth, and then examine in depth the elements of this history over the last eighty years. Beginning with the post-war baby-boom and the dramatic growth of organized religion, the course would also examine the religious and social challenges of the 1960s, the dramatic changes in the Roman Catholic church, the public re-emergence of the Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity, the rise of the Christian Right, the ecumenical movement, the decline of mainline Protestantism, the rise of contemporary worship and the megachurches, shifting patterns of Church and State, the impact of the post-1965 immigration, and changing religious patterns, including the rise of the “nones” (no religious preference).

“Experiencing God” How and where God meets us
Friday, 7:40 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
Instructor: Pastor John Meachen

God has this interesting habit of simply showing up in our lives at the most unexpected and often unwanted times.
How do you experience God? That is the question we will be exploring in this year’s continuing education class. We will discover how God shows up in lives of people in the Biblical narrative and the corresponding places of our own experiences. Joy, sorrow, strangers, rebellion, sacrifice, beauty, abundance, and poverty are just a few of God’s favorite landing spots. In good Lutheran fashion we will ask, “What does this mean?” about this God of ours and about our lives of faith.
Join us for a spirited monthly class where we will be “Experiencing God” together.

Lutheranism 101: By Heart, Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism
Friday, 6:10 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.
Instructor: Pastor Phyllis Smoot

The centerpiece to Lutheranism 101 is a richly illustrated book that will delight and inform people interested in brushing up on the basics of lutheran identity – or those interested in beginning the confirmation journey as an adult in conversation with your pastor. The course explores the Ten Commandments, Apostles’ Creed, Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, daily prayers, and sacraments: baptism and communion. For those who are about to be introduced to the Small Catechism, and for those who know it well already, we hope the Spirit will use this course to ignite—and reignite—in them the irrepressible spark generated still today by Luther’s poetic and resonant words.

Engaging Biblical Texts
Saturday, 9:00 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.
Instructor: Rev. Dr. Ann Fritschel

Too often, bible studies look at just the “story” of the text. This class goes beyond content by focusing on approaches and methods to studying biblical texts. Methods will look at how the text tells its story, exploring different types and structures of biblical texts and how to look at the original meaning of Hebrew and Greek words, without knowing Greek and Hebrew. It is more fun than it sounds. We will apply these methods looking at several “engaging” biblical texts. This course is for people seeking to engage biblical texts at a deeper level for personal growth or to assist them in leading Bible studies. This is Dr. Ann Fritschel’s last year at the ECSW Lay School.

Why do you love Lay School?
I have asked that question to myself numerous times, the only answer I can come up with is the Lord led me to this chapter in my life. I have always cared deeply for people I know and don’t know and wondered how I could help them. Which led me to serving shut ins communion. I have learned that listening, encouragement, and conversation go a long way with helping homebound to feel good about themselves. Which in turn I began to feel the pull to do more for the church family. Then the lay school bulletin came out and I prayed and talked it over with my Pastor and she thought it would by a good fit. So, lay school was it and am I ever proud, glad, and humbled that the difference I hope I can contribute to fellow Christians and maybe turn a few into Christians. The schooling is amazing and fulfilling to me…

Jackie Bushar
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