News & Events

Hartwick Hosts Seminary Summer Institute of Theology

July 30, 2009

Throughout the week of July 27, more than 120 clergy members and laity are taking part in the Hartwick Seminary Summer Institute of Theology on the Hartwick College campus. The five-day program is a venture in adult Christian education established by a small, rural conference of the Lutheran church.

Now in its 19th year, the institute is designed to train lay people as deacons for a variety of ministries in support of pastors and congregations. It also provides meaningful adult education and spiritual growth for laity and clergy through courses and seminars in biblical studies, theology, church history, and practical areas of ministry as an environment of worship and fellowship.

“The institute’s primary purpose was to train lay deacons for ministry within Lutheran congregations in this area, but it’s expanded beyond that now,” said the institute’s administrator, the Rev. Paul Messner, who has overseen the institute since 1993. “It’s an adult school of theology for laity of any background—it’s for anyone. We offer Christian-based curriculum, but anyone is welcome who is interested in learning or is in that searching mode of life.”

Among the dozens of courses offered throughout the week, participants study the content, structure, history, and theological paradigms of the Old Testament, as well as sections of the New Testament. Other sessions examine ways participants can grow their ministry to older adults, dealing with death and bereavement, significant hymns and styles, the development of Christian scriptures, first-century Judaism, the major themes and issues in Revelation, an overview of the Lutheran Confessions, and shared leadership. The program also offers daily worship services, confession and forgiveness, and fellowship. Several of the seminars are designed for this year’s 12 laity deacon candidates, who will study Lutheran identity, worship, and spiritual formation, deacon skills, and proclaiming the gospel.

“We hope that everybody comes away with a deeper sense of the beliefs, teachings, and mission of the Christian church,” Messner said. “Hopefully, they come away enriched and with a sense of fellowship with other Christians and other people. Many wanted to come for their own personal enrichment, and that’s a really important part of this. In this concentrated week, we offer a year’s worth of adult education that pastors and laity can take advantage of. It’s the breadth, height, width, the whole thing in a very concentrated time. People come away from this with a lot—they’re moved, they’re inspired.”

“Hartwick College has historic ties to the Lutheran church, and we see this as a really important place for us. It connects us to our early American roots. We look at ourselves as part of the fulfilling and the continuing of John Christopher Hartwick’s vision. We love being here—it connects us to the College, and we think that’s an important connection to keep.”

Next year’s Hartwick Seminary Summer Institute of Theology, celebrating its 20th year, is scheduled for July 25-30, and includes lodging and meals. Those interested in attending or supporting the institute may contact the Hartwick Seminary Institute of Theology at Hartwick College at 607-431-4599.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick’s expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.