The 19 students and four instructors currently involved in the Deaf Institute of Theology (DIT) were given special recognition at the June 24-26 International Lutheran Deaf Association (ILDA) annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio. DIT is a program designed to allow deaf Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregations a way to identify and equip deaf individuals for increased service on local, regional and national levels. It is a cooperative arrangement involving LCMS World Mission, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and ILDA and is open to those who have been members of a LCMS congregation for at least two years.
DIT features eight levels of instruction and allows deaf LCMS members the opportunity to complete course work at home, using a video cassette format. Each level of instruction builds upon the information learned in the previous level. More advanced levels require seminary level course work and some resident learning experience at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Successful completion of level eight is designed to prepare one for ordination and service as a pastor in the LCMS.
Each student who enrolls in the program receives books, video tapes and other study resources to use at home. Students will study with mentors, assigned by DIT, and will be required to pass a test at the completion of each level.
Rev. Glen Thomas, Vice President for Seminary Relations at Concordia, brought congratulations and encouragement to those DIT members and instructors present at the ILDA conference. “We are delighted to be partners in this innovative way of providing growth and instruction for those involved in deaf ministry” indicated Thomas. “It is exciting to contemplate the possibilities for this program as more and more enroll and are further equipped through the study of God’s Word.” He also encouraged all ILDA members to identify and encourage others who may be interested in enrolling in the DIT program.
The LCMS currently has about 8,000 deaf members. Yet, it is estimated that 98 percent of the 3 million people in America classified as “profoundly deaf” (not able to understand speech, even with amplification) are not Christian. “We are grateful for the untiring leadership and work of Rev. Rodney Rynearson of LCMS World Mission in making DIT a reality,” stated Thomas. “We pray that efforts like DIT will be effective in communicating the Gospel to millions of deaf people.”
Further information concerning the DIT can be obtained from Sandi Green at LCMS World Mission, 1333 South Kirkwood Rd, St. Louis, MO 63122; 314-965-9000; TTY: 888-899-5031; e-mail: sandi.green@LCMS.org.