Augsburg Lutheran Seminary (Seminario Luterano Augsburgo) was originally founded in 1964 in a joint effort by the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It was designed to train pastors not only from Mexico but from other parts of Latin America as well. For diverse reasons, the Seminary closed in 1981. The buildings, which are now called the Lutheran Center (Centro Luterano), continue to be used for groups visiting Mexico for learning experiences, and also include the Seminary office and the offices of Amextra (Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation). The Lutheran Center also has classroom and meeting spaces and rents out space for individuals and families who wish to live in the houses, apartments, and former dormitory rooms on the premises.
In 1998, however, Augsburg Lutheran Seminary reopened on a smaller scale under the direction of the Mexican Lutheran Church. According to this new arrangement, the Seminary was given a small office space and use of the classrooms.
Since the Seminary is fairly small, it was decided that the person who would head up the Seminary would be given the title “Coordinator” rather than something such as “President.” I served as the Coordinator from 1998—2005, and then passed that position on to Rev. Dr. Moisés Pérez, who was Coordinator from 2005—2011 and was the first graduate of the Seminary. When Moisés was named Dean (Vicerrector Académico) of the Theological Community, the Seminary board elected his wife, the Rev. Angela Trejo, as the new Coordinator. She has continued in that role since then.
We began with two professors (Rev. Dr. José Alcántara and myself) and four students in the 1998—1999 school year. Our first women students enrolled in the year 2000.
A high point of the Seminary was the 2009 ordination of the first three women pastors in the Mexican Lutheran Church: Sofía Tenorio, María Elena Ortega, and Angela.
In 2010, I was asked by the Seminary to serve as the Coordinator of the Seminary’s new online course program. In order to allow people to become acquainted with our online courses, prepare them for enrolling in our online diploma courses, and also simply as a service to the Spanish-speaking Christian community at large, in the summer of 2011 we began offering two free six-week online courses: Introduction to the Bible and Martin Luther and the Reformation. Over 1,500 people from around the world, including all of the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, as well as students from the ELCA and from Spain, have enrolled in these free courses.
Those who finish one or both of the free courses can then enroll in one of our online Diploma programs, each of which consist of six 12-week courses: the Diploma program in the Christian Faith, which offers basis courses in the Christian Scriptures, church history, and Christian theology; and the Diploma program in the Lutheran Tradition, in which students study Lutheran doctrine and history, the Lutheran Confessions, and Latin American Lutheran identity. About half of our students are Lutheran, and the other half come from other denominations and backgrounds.
Both the ELCA and the Lutheran World Federation have been very supportive of the seminary. Their support, as well as support received from other congregations and individuals, makes it possible for the Seminary to provide scholarships for students with limited resources. More information about Augsburg Lutheran Seminary can be found at the Seminary’s website, which is in Spanish: www.semla.org