Lutheran Schools: Opportunities Amidst the Challenges

The challenges that COVID-19 has brought to our congregations, schools, and church workers are many. Pastors, church staff members, and lay leaders can quickly identify all of precautions that they have taken and ways that they have adapted to these circumstances so that the Church’s ministry might continue. School administrators, teachers, and board members have also been forced to shift to online learning and make “in-time” adjustments like never before. It has been a stressful few months for those leading and serving in our congregations and schools.

However, God has provided great opportunities for our Lutheran schools in the midst of these significant challenges. This issue of The Voice focuses on how our educational ministries are serving during the pandemic. Consider this, approximately 1/3 of our Lutheran schools (elementary and secondary) saw enrollment increases this year in spite of the pandemic. Many of these families that are new to our schools have come as a result of the current crisis, but it is still evidence of God’s gracious hand providing open doors for the Gospel to be proclaimed with new students and families.

The uncertainty of our times gives churches and schools openings for proclaiming the certainty of the Gospel. For a nation thrown into division and disarray, fear and frustration, the saints of God step forward to speak a word of hope in Christ for all people. Bringing the one thing needful (the Gospel) is why our congregations started Lutheran schools and early childhood centers, nursing homes and counseling services. Faithful proclamation of God’s Word even in difficult times is what we can provide and what is most needed.

Please pray for our Lutheran Schools as they make the most out of the opportunity to reach new students and families. Also, pray for our school administrators and teachers as they adapt to ever changing circumstances. Our ultimate prayer is that through these difficult times the Holy Spirit would continue to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify those who we serve through our schools. For generations, this has been the purpose and focus of Lutheran schools in Missouri. What a blessing to see how God is at work in our schools this year.

If your congregation supports a Lutheran school or if there is one in your area, please get to know the teachers and staff so that you can pray for them by name. They are great blessings from God as they serve in this important role. This year in particular they covet your prayers! We hope you are encouraged by what you see that is happening in our schools across Missouri and how the District continues to provide support, counsel, and encouragement for these challenging times.

Fraternally in Christ,

President Lee Hagan

Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was elected as the fifth president of the Missouri District-LCMS in 2015.  He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia College (now University), Seward, Nebraska.  He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity in 1996 and Doctor of Ministry in 2011.  Dr. Hagan served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Indiana from 1996-2002.  In 2002, he was called to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Missouri until he was elected district president.  Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission from 2011-2012.  He has previously served as Missouri District first vice-president from 2012-2015, fourth vice-president from 2011-2012, and chairman of the Board for Congregational Services from 2006-2011.  He has presented workshops and retreats on a host of ministry topics including elders, rural ministry, outreach and ministry to inactives.  He has written articles for Lutheran Witness, Concordia Historical Quarterly and Missio Apostolica.  He has led mission trips to Cambodia, China, Guatemala and the Bahamas.  Dr. Hagan is married to Jill (nee Johnson), who works as a speech-language pathologist.  They have two children, Caroline and Jack.