Luther Theological Seminary in Columbia, S.C. opened it's doors to a large contingent of Baptist students, in celebrating an ecumenical unity between Lutherans and Baptists, during the beginning of the academic year.
One of eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Lutheran Theological Seminary agreed with the Souther Carolina Fellowship of Cooperative Baptists in Feburary to provide seminary education opportunities for Baptist students.
During the joint worship service,the Rev. Virginia C. Barfield was installed as the director for Baptist studies.
He said: "Having the opportunity to lead an innovative and cooperative effort of this kind is an extremely exciting venture."
"I hope this program can provide a forum for Baptists of all types to study in an ecumenical setting and thereby realize that it is not what separates us but what unites us that is important," Bartfield added.
Born in Kershaw, S.C., Barfield earned a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., and a doctorate from Duke University, Durham, N.C. In addition to her duties as director for Baptist studies, Barfield serves as an adjunct professor of Greek and New Testament at Southern Seminary.
"Lutherans and Baptists can remain Lutheran and Baptists, even while challenging each other and cooperating in mission for the good of the wider Church," said Dr. Michael Root, Southern's vice president for academic affairs and dean. Root is an ELCA associate in ministry.
"In this time when there is so much fragmentation in the Church and in our world, it is a sign of hope when Christians come together to achieve common goals," said the Rev. H. Frederick Reisz, president of Southern Seminary.