Information about the School of Lay Ministry

The School – The New England Synod ELCA offers a two-year educational program for laypersons through its School of Lay Ministry.

It is an innovative program designed to give adult students an opportunity to grow in their faith for the purpose of personal spiritual development, biblical enrichment, and life-long learning. 

The School embodies the belief in the “priesthood of all believers,” empowering its students to greater service to God and their congregations. 

Enrollment is open to anyone over 18 years of age interested in learning more about the history and development of Christianity, the Bible, Lutheranism, and more.

No educational prerequisite or expectation of prior biblical or theological knowledge is required.

The program – The two-year program enables students to broaden their own understanding of the Lutheran faith, foster a deeper understanding of other faith traditions, and improve understanding of the historical and theological aspects of the Bible.

The program has been designed to make the time requirement easily attainable. Each year the course will require approximately 60 hours of group work (DVD instruction or bible study) with additional hours of reading associated with each lesson. 

The curriculum – The curriculum is delivered through videos presented by Lutheran theologians and scholars in an interesting and easy to understand format, through the “Exploring the Bible” Bible study series developed by the Massachusetts Bible Society, additional readings and textbooks, and four retreats.

The curriculum is designed to be flexible and to promote discussion.

Retreats –  Part of the curriculum is delivered during two mandatory retreats each year, one in the fall and one in the spring, and they are scheduled to require minimal time away from home and work (Friday evening until Sunday noon). These retreats are held at Camp Calumet in Freedom, NH on Lake Ossipee.

Study Groups – Study throughout the year involves working through the material in an informal setting, either in-person in geographically convenient groups, or virtually, using ZOOM, or other mutually agreed platforms.  The study groups are facilitated by group members.  Study groups may, at their discretion, engage with a local pastor to help deepen their understanding of a particularly challenging area of study

Frequently Asked Questions: “When is graduation?” and “What can I do after I graduate?” 

Graduation – Following completion of study, a Certificate of Completion is awarded at graduation during Synod Assembly.  This certifies that you have completed the curriculum of the School of Lay Ministry. 

What can I do after I graduate?

The average student attends the school primarily for personal enrichment. There are no tests given, papers required, or grades assigned. They merely want to more about Lutheran Theology, the Bible and the church. 

Some students may feel called to become more involved in their home congregations. The knowledge and confidence they gain by attending the school may help them feel more prepared to teach Sunday School or confirmation classes, lead Bible studies, and participate in church leadership with a more clear theological perspective.

In some congregations, the Pastor may encourage students to help lead worship or preach a sermon.

On occasion, someone will enroll with an interest in further discernment to rostered leadership.

If someone is thinking of aspiring to a rostered position, they should be in contact with the Synod’s Candidacy Committee about educational requirements prior to enrollment in the Lay School.

Cost and Scholarships

The Synod makes every attempt to keep the cost affordable, with tuition and books totaling around $550.00 per year.

Scholarships may be available through your congregation and participants are encouraged to seek both financial and spiritual support from their home congregation.

Brochures and registration forms are available on:

 –       the school website nesynod-slm, just click on the appropriate horizontal tab.

–       the Synod website under “Faith in Action.”

 The registration form, signed by your Pastor, along with a $100 deposit, must be submitted to the Synod office no later than July 31st. 

For further information please contact Beatrice Santiago, Dean of the School of Lay Ministry –