Spring Pastors Conference Report

Each May the pastors of the Indiana District gather for a spring conference – The Northwest & Northeast pastors in the northern part of the state, and the Central & Southern pastors in the southern part of the state.  This is the report Jon Mielke gave to the pastors concerning Christian Education & Congregational Services of the Indiana District.

Christian Education & Congregational Services Report for the Spring Pastors Conference – May 2018

1. Upcoming Conferences & Events

  • May 31 – NLSA District Accreditation Commission at the District Office
  • June 18-20 – FLAME Future Lutheran Administrators Midwest Education at Ann Arbor MI
  • July 9-13 – GOSPEL Conference LCMS Education Executives in California
  • July 19-20 – Summer Administrators Conference, Brown County State Park, Nashville IN
  • July 24-26 –  NLSA National Accreditation Commission in St Louis, MO
  • August 17-18 – Early Childhood Conference at Our Shepherd, Avon IN
  • September 5-7 – INDEX Midwest Education Executive Conference
  • October 10-12 – DCE Conference at the Best Practices Heartland Conference in Columbus IN
  • October 29-30 – INPEA Indiana Non Public Educators Conference in Indianapolis IN

2. Schools with new Administrators

  • Mt Calvary Lutheran Childcare & Preschool, Fort Wayne IN has contracted Andrea Harville as director as current director Sue Doepner retiring
  • Trinity Lutheran High School, Seymour IN has contracted Clayton Darlage as principal. Current principal Ben Stellwagen accepted a call to Nebraska
  • Amy Hedges will be installed as principal on May 20 at Our Shepherd, Avon where she is serving as interim
  • John Weber was installed as principal on May 2 at Central Lutheran, New Haven IN where he was serving as interim
  • Whitney Vandercar has accepted a call be principal at White Creek Lutheran School, Columbus IN where she is currently teaching; current principal Jan Buss is retiring
  • John March has accepted a call to be principal of St John Lutheran, Indianapolis IN
  • Jeff Smitley has accepted a contact to be principal of St John Lutheran, Lanesville IN
  • Breenna Smith has accepted a call to be director/teacher at Trinity Lutheran Preschool-Darmstadt, Evansville IN, a new school start

3. Enrollment Trends

Congregations support forty-five (45) Lutheran elementary schools as the 2017-2018 academic year comes to a close.  Most of these schools serve children in grades K-8, with thirty-seven (37) of them also supporting a preschool.

Currently, the total enrollment in grades K-8 in all the elementary schools of the Indiana District has decreased from 7362-7028 during this three-year period

# of Schools 2017-2018 2016-2017 2015-2016
Free Standing Early Childhood 52 2,410 2,571 2,525
Early Childhood in Elementary 1,722 1,711 1,701
Total Early Childhood Student   4,132 4,282 4,226
K-8 Students 45 7,028 7,214 7,362
9-12 Students 3 1,110 1,174 1,165
Total Students 100 12,270 12,670 12,753

4. Indiana Choice Scholarship Program

In the 2017-2018 academic year three (3) Lutheran high schools and thirty-seven (37) Lutheran elementary schools were registered with the Department of Education and accepting Choice Scholarship families.  At the beginning of the academic year 2017-2018, five-hundred sixty (560) new CHOICE Scholarship students enrolled in a Lutheran school and were able to hear the Gospel message. A total number of 3,465 Lutheran School students are receiving Choice Scholarships, that is 42.6% of our total K-12 enrollment, and includes students who are members of our congregations.  Our schools will receive $13,092,599 in Choice Scholarships this year.  For the 2018-2019 school year 3 more schools will become CHOICE Schools: Ascension Lutheran Christian School, Gary IN, Immanuel Lutheran, Valparaiso IN, and Zion Lutheran, New Palestine IN

5. Colloquy for Teachers and Church Workers

There are nine hundred thirty-one (931) administrators and teachers in our one hundred (100) Lutheran schools in the Indiana District.  Four hundred thirty-nine (439) are called and four hundred ninety-two (492) are contracted.  Twenty-nine (29) contracted teachers are synod trained but not on the roster of Synod at this time.  50.3% of our teachers have synod training.

The Indiana District established a fund to help teachers take colloquy courses with the goal to have Lutheran Teachers obtain a better understanding of Law and Gospel.  This also includes other church-worker professions such as DCE, Director of Family Life (DFLM) and Director of Parish Music (DPM).  In the last triennium, twenty-four (24) teachers have taken at least one colloquy course. Six (6) teachers have started the colloquy process in 2017. Thirteen (13) have completed the coursework and have or are in the process of completing their final interview at one of the Concordia Universities. During 2015-2017 we had 14 teachers receive a call upon completing colloquy and were commissioned.  In addition we had 2 Directors of Parish Music complete colloquy and were commissioned.

6. New School Starts

Evansville:  Trinity Lutheran in Darmstadt will to open an early learning center.  The congregation of Trinity Lutheran called Breenna Smith as director & teacher and she has accepted.  Evansville Lutheran School and area LCMS churches are also in a Genesis Study to determine the feasibility for Lutheran preschools/daycares for the Evansville, Indiana area. Please keep their efforts in your prayers as they seek to discern God’s will for ministry to young children and their families in this area of the Indiana District.

Roanoke:  Faith Lutheran in Roanoke has opened an early learning (preschool) center in the spring of 2018.

Ascension Lutheran Christian School, Gary, IN:  After much planning, Ascension Lutheran Christian School opened in the fall of 2017.  Working in concert with Lutheran Urban Mission Initiative, Inc. (LUMIN) and the Indiana District, local LCMS education and business advocates formed a nonprofit entity, the Lutheran School Corporation of Indiana, Inc. (LSCI), to own Ascension Lutheran Christian School.  LSCI leases a school building from Our Saviour Lutheran Church and retained LUMIN to operate Ascension.  Pastors, leaders, and faculty welcomed twelve (12) students in three grades – kindergarten and first (1st) and second (2nd) grade and celebrated its opening chapel service on August 16, 2017.  They will end the year with 15 students.  Grade 3 will be added for 2018-2019 and it will be a CHOICE Scholarship school for 2018-2019.  Rev. John Albers is serving as administrator.

7. Congregational Services – DCE and Family Life

Northeast Lutheran Family Life Council A few DCE’s, pastors and leaders from NE Indiana have gathered a few times to discuss and explore ways that family ministry can be enhanced not only in northeast Indiana but throughout the entire Indiana District.  A resolution/overture is being submitted to the Council for Congregational Services in efforts to recognize and bolster the work of the Indiana District for family ministry.

National Youth Gathering July 11-15, 2019 The theme is REAL.PRESENT.GOD and to be held in Minneapolis, MN.  DCE Sarah Shadday (Concordia, Greenwood) and DCE Cheryl LaBelle (St Paul, Columbus) are the Indiana District Coordinators.  They attended a Synod pre-gathering meeting in Minneapolis to preview the convention site and gather information to share with congregations who plan to attend.

Fall DCE Conference October 10-12  The Fall DCE conference will be held in conjunction with Best Practices-Heartland Conference hosted by St Peter’s Lutheran, Columbus IN.