Uruguayan seminary equips church leaders despite COVID-19 complications

By Tianna Haas | Uruguay in South America

Natalia records seminary session for the Biblical Seminary of Uruguay's video courses.

More Uruguayan church leaders than ever can benefit from new online courses developed in response to the challenge of COVID-19.

When the country went into lockdown, the Biblical Seminary of Uruguay was barely a week into a new two-year course, developed in partnership with SIM Uruguay, with 200 enrolled pastors.

To continue training, the seminary leaders, who had been developing the programme for two years, decided to record the classes on video. Now, they distribute the virtual courses on social media platforms, including YouTube and WhatsApp. Students also participate in interactive sessions on Zoom.

Since layoffs have been rampant, the administration chose to waive tuition costs for the semester. Subsequent semesters will be half off until some level of normalcy returns to the Uruguayan economy.

Seminary director Ernesto Dueck and SIM Uruguay director Andres Corrales are both hopeful for the programme to cultivate growth in the church. Andres said: “The idea of these programmes is to provide biblical knowledge and efficient tools in the areas of family, cross-cultural ministry, new generations, worship and stewardship.”

Ernesto said: “We know that this is a strategic moment to continue to encourage and prepare leaders for the harvest, especially during and after this crisis.”

SIM Uruguay’s partnership with the Biblical Seminary of Uruguay in Montevideo began with their school of missions 10 years ago and has grown since.

Prior to lockdown, seminary professors traveled and hosted training sessions in 35 cities, but many people could not attend still. Now, virtual learning has eliminated the problem of distance. Ernesto said: “The students are sharing the video classes with their teams and people that couldn’t travel to Montevideo to receive lessons. We are anticipating many more people following the courses than before. We can serve more people!

“In one church outside of Montevideo, 14 worship leaders have signed up for the school of worship. Before, it would have been impossible for them to travel to Montevideo for in house classes.”

The classes also create a sense of camaraderie in the difficulties and isolation brought on by the coronavirus. In tandem with Andres, Ernesto said: “Many of our students were fired and [they’ve communicated that] this material is encouraging for them and even in this hard time, they are acquiring knowledge and skills to serve in significant ways when all this finally over.”

"The need of workers trained in the Word, worship and the power of the Spirit is greater than ever before so we can see his church reach the ends of the earth with the good news of Jesus."

     

With the overseers of many anxious congregations listening in, Ernesto hopes they will buckle down in scripture and dedicated study. He said: “[I want them to know] the importance of adequate training for the task at hand. The need of workers trained in the Word, worship and the power of the Spirit is greater than ever before so we can see his church reach the ends of the earth with the good news of Jesus.

Though online education was not their initial intention, the seminary has realised it is an indispensable tool that can teach the church to rightly handle scripture, nurture their spiritual family and preach the good news of Jesus. Ernesto said: “We envision being able to offer virtual classes through our webpage for the entire Spanish speaking population – a dream come true.”

Help SIM ministries

SIM is investing in ministries like the Biblical Seminary of Uruguay that care for the church and its shepherds. Can you contribute your support to our ministries? To donate to our specializing leaders for Uruguay project, select your nearest country and use project number 91173 through our donation page.

(Find out more about SIM seeks to reduce the burden of the coronavirus: COVID-19 Immediate Relief project.)

Pray for:

the Uruguayan church to be strengthened by these programmes. Pray the church boldly proclaims the news of the risen Christ and the gift of salvation.

the Biblical Seminary of Uruguay’s professors and staff as they instruct on new platforms. Pray that they navigate technological setbacks well and continue rightly discerning truth in scripture.

students as they struggle financially to persevere in faith and study with determination. Pray the Lord provides a source of income for each of them.

the spread of the coronavirus to end according to God’s good will.