By Jay Alanis, Executive Director at LSPS
It was with great joy that we recently celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the founding of LSPS in 1975! Our honored guest and speaker was the Rev. Lawrence Bade who was the Chair of the District Committee of the American Lutheran Church at the time. He along with other visionary founders helped to secure the initial grant of $50,000 to begin this important educational adventure in the life of the church.
In his address to the gathered assembly Rev. Bade reviewed the history of the Lutheran missions of the Rio Grande Valley dating back to the 1920’s. He reminded us that our mission to the Hispanic community can be traced to faithful missioners and lay workers who served the people of south Texas and northern Mexico in ways that were culturally sensitive and theologically sound. These folk had a passion and love for the gospel and for mission with their neighbors. They shared the Lutheran witness of grace with the people of the borderlands in ways that continue to affect the lives and history of the church.
I am one of those witnesses. As a son of St. John Lutheran Church in San Juan in the Rio Grande Valley, I am the recipient of the ministry of those early missioners. One of these was Pastor Alvin Koehler who directed the Lutheran Bible School and directed the Commission on Mexican Missions in that early history. Rev. Bade shared stories of his own ministry at First English Lutheran Church in Edinburg where he answered the call to serve following graduation from Wartburg Seminary. He recounted stories of service to a people who “continually longed for support, affirmation, growth and partnership.” He along with District President Vern Mohr and other visionaries dreamed of a seminary program that would provide opportunities for growth for folks being served in south Texas as well as provide alternative routes for ordained service should the Spirit call them to full-time ministry. I am one of those folks. I am an LSPS alumnus.
As we celebrate and commemorate this fortieth anniversary we give thanks to God for the faithful witness of so many that made this dream a reality. We have graduated over two hundred pastors and are now serving countless others in continuing educational opportunities and programs that bring them to Austin from every part of the country. We are training and equipping leaders for service in the globalized world of our times. LSPS was founded for such a time as this! To continue this legacy, participants were invited to honor the Rev. Bade with gifts to LSPS. So on this fortieth anniversary we take time out to say: Gracias Pastor Bade for your vision and commitment to serve the people of the borderlands and for extending our horizon of service to the world! Que Dios te bendiga!