The Last Word

Mar 2nd, 2020 | Category: A Final Word, Columns
By Russell Dawn

Celebrating DCEs

It is a joy to create something new. Whether a work of art or architecture, a story or an academic program, a game app or a makeshift bridge across a creek, creators will attest that the creation of something lovely or useful or fun is a source of joy. 

The joy of the creative process is not, however, the purpose of creating. The joy is an additional gift from God, but there is a greater purpose behind our creativity: service. We create in order to provide some benefit, some service, to others.

Sixty years ago, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod created something new. The Synod created a new office of ministry: The Director of Christian Education. I do not doubt that those who created the office experienced great joy when they saw it come to fruition. But they knew, as do so many DCEs since then, that the purpose behind the program is service. People in the Synod saw that many congregations had an educational need – or really, a variety of such needs – that would best be met by faithful women and men who are specifically trained and tasked to meet those needs.

Interestingly, the origin and legacy of the office of DCE is a bit like the origin and legacy of the Synod itself. Those courageous Saxons who crossed the Atlantic and settled in Perry County, Missouri in the late 1830s had feared that they would no longer be able to educate their children faithfully if they remained in their homeland. They braved ocean and frontier in order to serve their children’s educational needs.

Almost a century and a quarter later, the same Synod founded by those Saxons expanded its educational ministry through the DCE program – again perceiving a need and meeting it creatively. Although forming a new office of ministry is not quite as radical as making a new life in a new land, the goal was similar: serving through education.

The historic practice of educating its people thoroughly and effectively remains alive and well in the LCMS. The creativity of this church body has provided us many reasons to rejoice across the generations. Service, however, is and always has been the reason we create. To our DCEs around the country, thank you for the creative service you provide to our congregations each day. We rejoice with you! LEJ