The Lutheran Church Synod in Missouri has agreed to a number of revisions to the Synod's Distance Education Leading to Ordination (DELTO) program.
These revisions, called to attention by the Synod's President, Gerald Kieschnick, after the 2001 Lutheran Church Missouri Synod convention, has finally been approved by the oversight committee.
Dr. L. Dean Hempelmann, the committee's chairman, said that its work is "virtually complete" and that qualified DELTO candidates "may now apply to the revised program."
Hempelmann who also serves as the director of pastoral education with the Synod's Board for Higher Education describes DELTO as "a program of theological education leading to ordination for men who provide pastoral services to congregations that cannot support a full-time pastor or who serve in situations of extraordinary circumstances."
These revisions now allow participants to take a third of the required 30 courses at the district level, complete courses on a pass/fail basis, and study the Bible in their own languages rather than via original languages.
"All of these changes -- especially study of the Bible in the vernacular --take into account that DELTO is dealing with extraordinary circumstances," said Hempelmann, "and that the Biblical languages are still necessary for the life of the church."
He also emphasized that courses offered in districts "are acceptable as long as they meet the requirements of the seminaries. When a qualified man starts his DELTO studies at the district level," Hempelmann said, "he should apply to the DELTO program at one of the seminaries."
Some districts have started to offer DELTO courses that are acceptable to the LCMS program. In the revised program, participants are paired with a mentor – a local pastor approved by his district – who would "advise, counsel and tutor" DELTO students.
By Pauline Chang