Seminary launches hybrid Master of Divinity program
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary is expanding the reach of its Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program beginning fall 2022.
Published April 19, 2022
Beginning in fall 2022, LTSS M.Div. students will have the opportunity to complete the curriculum in a hybrid format as an alternative to residing on or commuting to campus. It will combine remote learning with face-to-face educational experiences, including the required semesters of supervised field experience and on-campus gatherings twice per year. The hybrid option still offers students opportunities for fellowship and formational events with faculty and residential students.
We want to bring more structure to this experience and to spread the word, because we don’t want to miss out on the formation of people whom God is calling to public ministry.
Brent Driggers, LTSS associate dean
Answering the Call
Brent Driggers, LTSS associate dean for academic programs, says the seminary wants to recognize how God calls people to ministry in different circumstances. He is hopeful this program will allow students to follow God’s call even if they cannot relocate to Columbia.
“They’ll be taking the same classes as our residential students,” Driggers said. “And they’ll be practicing the same forms of parish ministry—worship leadership, preaching, teaching, pastoral care and visitation. All the things that pastors do, they’ll be doing while they are students. But they won’t be limited to the Columbia area.”
Due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, Driggers and the rest of the LTSS faculty have had plenty of time to practice online forms of instruction and livestreaming students into their classrooms.
“We already have a handful of students who consistently livestream classes,” Driggers said, “and we have seen how the right kinds of pedagogies can cultivate pastoral formation and lasting friendships. We want to bring more structure to this experience and to spread the word, because we don’t want to miss out on the formation of people whom God is calling to public ministry.”
Driggers said the program would officially launch in late August, with the first on-campus gathering scheduled for the first week of fall classes. The faculty have agreed to adjust their course schedules during that week so that all LTSS students can participate in scheduled events.
Spence Robertson, a second-year M.Div. student at LTSS, is grateful for the opportunity to pursue his seminary studies while residing in his hometown of Hickory, North Carolina. Because of the hybrid element of the program, he can continue serving as a musician in a full-time capacity at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation.
“I appreciate the seminary’s flexibility in allowing me to remain at the congregation I love and enjoy serving,” Robertson said. “Being able to participate in a hybrid learning environment has worked well for me. I thank the seminary and all the professors that have made this option available to those near and far away.”