LAC institute offers free online courses to strengthen church witness and service


Regional Sustainability Institute promotes innovative learning to build churches’ capacity

(LWI) – Churches in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and other regions can now access a series of free online courses in Portuguese, Spanish and English focusing on how to strengthen church presence and service in society. The curriculum is coordinated through a training program by the Lutheran communion in the region.

The curriculum offered by the São Leopoldo (Brazil)-based Sustainability Institute – Latin America and the Caribbean (InS) represents an important tool for leaders and communities, especially during the global coronavirus disease pandemic, said Ma. Scheila Dillenburg, director of the training program.

”The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to use online tools for meeting, training and qualifying leaders in our churches,” she noted.

The Lutheran World Federation and its member churches in LAC jointly established InS in 2013, with the objective of offering training that responds to the churches’ need for capacity building in their different ministries. It started its operations as a formal academic institution in 2014, and offers different levels of in-person and distance learning training for degree programs and other specialized qualifications. Each year, the InS online courses register around 500 students, including diaconal workers, catechists, community service providers, and teachers of theology among others.

The select free online courses cover topics such as management and leadership, diakonia, liturgy and how to promote gender justice in community life. The institute’s coordinator Prof. Dr Valério Schaper says the curriculum incorporates different processes of institutional strengthening and the quest for sustainability in churches and their related organizations. “We seek to contribute to the formation and development of the capacities of people, congregations/communities and churches through reflection, practice and innovative mobilization of the different gifts and resources in the region,” he explained.

Dillenburg said the courses that InS has been offering annually “promote a differentiated and collaborative method of learning, where people learn from each other´s experiences.” While the institute is a Lutheran communion initiative, other churches can access the available courses, “which strengthens the ecumenical dimension and enriches the exchange of experiences,” she noted. In 2020, InS has been providing free online courses to students of the ecumenical Latin America and Caribbean theological education institute CETELA.

The program for the free online courses is accessible through the InS website, with each course estimated to last 10 hours. The training is continuously available, which allows enrolled students to access the written material, watch instruction videos and complete the course outline according to an individual’s availability. While there is no direct tutoring, a technical team is on standby to assist in case of difficulties in accessing the platform, questions or suggestions.

Communications Network – LAC and LWF Communications