My name is Bruce Shoger, and I am a Lay Representative to the Northern Province Provincial Elders Conference (PEC), elected in 2018. During my time serving on the PEC, I became aware of a program at Moravian Theological Seminary (MTS)called Crossroads.
The program was developed by Dr. Jill Peters specifically to offer educational opportunities to congregational lay leaders outside the bounds of the formal degrees offered by MTS, such as the Master of Divinity degree required for ordination in the Moravian church. I found that there are many reasons that lay leaders might choose this further education, including just to better serve the needs of their local congregations in all aspects of theology and Moravian history.
The aspect that interested me most was the fact that upon completion of the program I would be prepared to serve the Church in a leadership capacity. Some graduates of Crossroads continue a process to serve their local congregation in more specific ways as a licensed lay minister.
Additionally, I would be better prepared to serve as an elder, a Sunday school teacher, and even as pulpit supply. Throughout Northern and Southern Provinces there are growing needs for Moravians to fill these roles.
During 2019, I thought about the needs of many of our churches. I weighed these needs against my interest and availability to undertake a graduate level program. I decided to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider my commitment to start and complete a multi-year educational program at this stage of my life. By November, I concluded that if I was indeed interested, I needed to commit to beginning the program and if I found that I could keep up with the studies I needed to personally commit to completing the program.
As I explored the details of the Crossroads program, I learned that there are 16 formal courses and one practical internship to complete the program requirements. The courses are offered on Monday and Thursday evenings and are available for distance learning in an online setting. Many of the courses are taught by professors of other degree programs at MTS, and each course meets for three hours, one night a week, over an 8-week term. Each course requires reading assignments from multiple texts including a study bible, assignments that vary from papers to class presentations, and each course offers practical education, skill development, and experience. Even the online class format was easy to adapt to, and student participation in class was easy to get used to and effective.
I decided to try the program even if it meant starting in mid-year, so in January 2020, I enrolled and began a new phase of my formal education, though it had been 30-plus years since I had been in a classroom. Remarkable to me was the fact that my learning skills came back quickly and my discipline to keep up with reading and writing assignments was not difficult to restore. By committing to start, I also quickly realized that I needed to commit to finish, and I am happy to have completed the entire program in just 26 months of study.
The main reason I am writing this is to encourage other ‘older learners’ like me and committed Moravians to consider the Crossroads Program to extend their knowledge of the Bible, the theology of the Moravian Church, and to better prepare yourself for further service to your congregation. You do not need to move at the speed that I did. I learned that there are many students that only take specific courses of interest, or due to many personal reasons may start and stop studies with months between courses. The program is intended to be as flexible as you might need it to be. And I found the entire experience to be personally rewarding.
May God bless you as you consider how you might take advantage of this unique and wonderful program.
Bruce Shoger is a member of Lake Auburn Moravian Church in Victoria, Minn. For more information on the Crossroads Program, visit https://moravianseminary.edu/academics/crossroads.
- Unpacking the Scriptures – Preaching with the Rev. Dr. Sue Pizor Yoder
Mondays, 6-9 pm, Sept 12, 19, 26, Oct 3, 10, (Note: Not meeting on Oct 17), 24, 31, Nov 7
- Faith Journeys of the Old Testament with Pam Weiss
Thursdays, 6-9 pm, Sept 8, 15, 22, 29, Oct 6, 13, 20, 27
Late Fall 2022
- Culture & Change with Dr. Jill Peters
Mondays and Thursdays, 6-9 pm, Nov 3, 10, 14, 17, 21, 28, Dec 1, 5
- Ministry Journeys of the New Testament with the Rev. Dr. Joanne Marchetto
Mondays, 6-9 pm, Jan 9, 16, 23, 30, Feb 6, 13, 20, 27
- Mapping the Route – Conversations in Theology with the Rev. Dr. Bill Falla
Thursdays, 6-9 pm, Jan 5, 12, 19, 26, Feb 2, 9, 16, 23
- Traveling Mercies – Congregational Care with Dr. Jill Peters, Greg Krausz and other guests
Mondays, 6-9 pm, Mar 6, 13, 20, 27, (Not meeting Holy Week 4/3), Apr 10, 17, 24, May 1
- Traditions – World Religions and Protestant Denominations with Rev. Dr. Bill Falla
Thursdays, 6-9 pm, Mar 9, 16, 23, 30, (Not meeting Holy Week 4/6), Apr 13, 20, 27, May 4