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To Speak in Parables: 2018 Spring ACTS Course

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This past Saturday kicked off the beginning of the 2018 Spring ACTS (The Ambassadors Community for Theological Study) course in Waynesboro, Wytheville, and Yorktown. ACTS is intended to enrich and equip laity for intentional service as ambassadors for Christ in homes, churches, and in their communities. It provides comprehensive exposure to the foundations of Lutheran faith through classroom and experiential education. ACTS also serves as a continuing education course for rostered ministers.

Led by ACTS Director, The Rev. Karen R. Taylor, ACTS instruction is offered in large-group sessions at a single location (with the option of satellite sites), with breakout small-group sessions occurring across the state each led by rostered leaders or ACTS program graduates. From these sessions, ACTS participants gain a theological grounding for their personal call, equipping them to answer the call to be Christ’s ambassador- be it in congregational leadership roles, or leading throughout the Synod.

This year’s spring course, “To Speak in Parables: Proclamation of the Gospel in the Parables of Jesus”, focuses on the New Testament. Participants in this spring’s sessions are studying the content and development of the New Testament. The Gospels provide the foundation for the church and by the end of this course, the participant will have an increased knowledge of the New Testament and how it sets us free to share our God-given gifts.

The Rev. Dr. Mark Vitalis Hoffman is the speaker for this ACTS Course. He serves as Glatfelter Professor of Biblical Studies at the United Lutheran Seminary (Gettysburg / Philadelphia). He received his Master of Divinity degree from Luther (Northwestern) Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1983 and his Ph.D. degree in New Testament from Yale University in 1996 where his dissertation topic was, “Psalm 22 and the Crucifixion of Jesus.” Ordained as an ELCA pastor in 1988, he and his wife Kathy have served congregations in Minnesota and North Dakota. He has taught at Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) and numerous Bible camps and synodical gatherings, led the GIFTS program of lay education in Eastern ND, provided study resources for Augsburg Fortress, and offered online learning opportunities presented at his own CrossMarks.com and through the seminary.

The Rev. Dr. Vitalis Hoffman provided participants an educational and humorous view of the parables of Jesus, including noteworthy parables such as the parable of the Mustard Seed, the Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son, and more! In examining these familiar parables, the ACTS participants were asked to reevaluate what they had previously thought they understood, discovering new or untapped meaning in the process.

For this course, ACTS participants are reading from the textbook, What are they Saying about the Parables by David B. Gowler which introduces the current scholarly thinking about the parables of Jesus, exploring topics like historical-critical approaches to the parables, the parables and their social context, and the parables and their Jewish contexts. A helpful resource as this ACTS course is diving deeply into considering how the parables function as Gospel.
With the guidance of the Rev. Dr. Vitalis Hoffman ACTS participants are learning that the parables can be interpreted as ways for us to personally connect to God’s message, as each function as metaphors that can challenge and invite the audience into a new or deeper experience. What an exciting way to bring the familiar into a new and meaningful context.
Visit www.vasynod.org/ministries/acts to learn more about the ACTS program.
By | 2018-03-15T14:40:27-04:00 March 15th, 2018|Blog, News|Comments Off on To Speak in Parables: 2018 Spring ACTS Course

About the Author:

Emily is the Director of Communications for the Virginia Synod. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she earned her BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and a minor in Digital Studies.If you have an announcement, upcoming event, or news story idea you would like to share, get in touch with Emily via email or by phone at (540) 389-1000