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From the Editor

A Plus!

Happy new school year! May God bless your teaching and your students’ learning—that all may be a blessing to others.

The Fall 2017 issue of ShapingtheFuture offers many good ideas for experienced and new teachers alike. Future Lutheran school educators will find practical and perhaps inspiring articles as well. Oh, yes, some of the information will make you laugh too. Teachers need a healthy dose of humor, especially as they enter a new term.

Our team of writers once again reflect mostly practitioners in the elementary, middle, and secondary fields, with knowledgeable educators from several universities contributing to your professional prowess too.

Note that Dr. Pingel’s piece about teaching and reaching first-year teachers is accompanied by a ShapingtheFuture+PLUS! option. A new, regular feature enters this issue as iWhy. We are happy to include brief stories about why you wanted to teach in a Lutheran school and how it came about. See the feature for more information on how you could be included in a future issue.

Happy reading!

From the Executive Director

Celebrating Reformation

Martin LutherWelcome to the Reformation! I am very mindful that Protestants throughout the world are actually celebrating the 500th anniversary of an event that took place on October 31, 1517. At the same time, it certainly feels like Lutheran educators today are in the midst of a new era that could be considered a re-formation—a move into a new era of Christian education that Martin himself may have enjoyed experiencing.

One example of this new direction for Lutheran education took place this summer when LEA was involved in partnering with the Lutheran Education Association of South Africa (LEASA) to host three regional conferences for local and international educators. The journey began near the port of Durban, where settlers came from northern Germany to establish a mission station. Being sent out from the village of Hermannsburg, the Lutheran missionaries began a school in 1856 in a town that they gave the same name. That school has been running constantly for 161 years. The three conferences were hosted by schools and congregations in other parts of South Africa, bringing together educators and leaders from diverse populations who have experienced the need to reform a post-Apartheid Africa in ways that outsiders cannot fully understand. Reformation has a special meaning every day to our brothers and sisters in ministry in this challenging context.

Another event that brought together more than 1,100 educators from across Australia took place in Adelaide July 7–9. Lutheran Education Australia hosted this conference in a city that was settled by German Lutherans in the 1830s, when they first came over as missionaries and the first school was started. Today’s composition of attendees reflects the diversity of the people and the expansion to the entire continent through Lutheran education. The theme “People, Planet, Purpose” boldly outlined new directions that need to be taken in caring for the children and youth served by their schools, care for the environment, and a new resolve for the purpose of Lutheran schools in an ever-changing world.

There is reason to be optimistic about the future of Lutheran education in our world.…There are hundreds of other examples of how God has placed the right people into the right places for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.There is reason to be optimistic about the future of Lutheran education in our world. As evidenced by the above two international examples, mission outreach is having a dramatic effect on diverse and changing communities. There are hundreds of other examples as well of how God has placed the right people into the right places for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. Despite the economic challenges, the realities of demographic shifts, and the questions about purpose in a post-Christian world, we are seeing the results of new ideas for starting schools, new models for collaboration, and new approaches to ministry among new groups of people in previously untapped locations. Behind all of these positive moves are Lutheran educators: teachers, leaders, and innovators who forge ahead even when it seems that everything is slowing down or perhaps coming to a screeching halt.

Martin Luther had no model. He experienced what needed to be changed, and he spoke the truth. He took risks and stepped forward when others questioned and resisted. He looked to God alone as his place of refuge and source of strength. Luther did not yield to popular opinion but took action when the time called for it, seeking new ways of resolving the issues of the day. At this time of recalling what Martin Luther did to reform the church, I pray that we together move toward a RE-formation of Lutheran education, seeking all of the new means that God will provide for carrying His Word into our communities and the world.

Photo © iStock/Oleg Prikhodko.