Lutheran Bible Ministries

looks back on more than 50 years of service,
and forward to new opportunities in the new millennium.

Many changes have come to church life and to Christian witness in the world since 1948, when LBM had its beginning. That's why LBM is developing new programs to meet the needs of congregations and individual Christians in the new millennium. Highlights include:  

  • This website with events, humor, sermon ideas, pericope and other Bible studies for adult groups that can be downloaded, and more.  LBM believes that the Internet is a key delivery system for resources.
  • Crossways Bible study training, in cooperation with Dr. Harry Wendt, to bring his "Divine Drama" Bible study program to a wider audience.
  • Urban focus to bring Bible study resources suitable for multicultural and multi-lingual settings.
  • Lectures to bring the best in biblical scholarship to the people.
  • User evaluations of major Bible study programs.
  • And more!

But this future builds on a vision which has an exciting past.

NYC Beginnings
The LBM story began more than a half-century ago, with the establishment of an eastern satellite school patterned after the Lutheran Bible Institute in Minneapolis.  At this time, two similar schools were organized in Seattle and Los Angeles.  Evening classes in Brooklyn began in 1947 and the school opened formally the next year at Gustavus Adolphus Church in Manhattan.  It had three full-time teachers and a registrar-secretary.
It proved difficult to run a school in Manhattan, so in 1951 the school, then called The Lutheran Bible Institute, purchased a large 19th century home on 3.3 acres in Teaneck, NJ, minutes from the city, and moved the school to the building called Luther House.  The enrollment increased from 13 students to 53 by the academic year 1953-54. Growth brought the need for more space.  In 1956-57, Grace Hall, a women's dorm and classroom building, was finished, followed in 1969 by Peace Hall, a combination of chapel and classroom.  The library, too, expanded, reaching nearly 20,000 volumes in 1970.

Meanwhile, the name of the school changed as its program expanded.  It became The Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute in the early 60s.  In February 1967 it was named Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts and in 1968 was authorized to grant an Associate in Religious Arts (A.R.A.) degree.  By May 1975, the authorization was extended to the traditional two-year degree, Associate of Arts (A.A.).

Luther College attracted a skilled adjunct faculty (including Dr. Herb Chilstrom, who became the first bishop of the ELCA) that devoted hours to giving extra help to students beyond the classroom.  Large numbers of minority students were enrolled, many of them "at-risk" academically.  This intense extra effort enabled many to succeed in gaining four year degrees. Going "above and beyond" to help these students achieve their educational dreams remains as one of Luther College's finest contributions as a Christian institution of higher learning.

However, it was expensive.  The number of students who could pay full tuition and who did not require extra help declined.  Outside funding was unavailable, the school was too young for serious endowments to materialize.  So, in June 1978 the Board of Regents sadly recommended closing the degree-granting college program.  The understanding was that Luther College might continue to give non-credit courses and to use the corporate name.  Also, the school could apply later for reinstatement as an accredited school since the withdrawal of that status had nothing to do with the nature and excellence of its academic program.

A New Approach
The program now shifted to a focus on non-credit extension style courses utilizing especially the expertise of the adjunct faculty as resource persons.  The college operation was phased out.  An executive director was elected to develop and promote the new venture.  In October 1982, the Luther College Association voted to amend the Certificate of Incorporation for Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts by changing the legal name to Lutheran Bible Ministries, Inc.

In the next two decades, extension Bible studies were offered in Bergen and Morris Counties in New Jersey, and in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Long Island in New York.  A family vacation experience at Lake Winnipesaukee, NH, begun as a college event, was continued.  The Tuscarora Lutheran Women's Retreat developed and attracted close to 200 women for its annual weekend of Bible study and spiritual growth.

Under executive director Pastor Victor Albers, LBM sponsored "Walk through the Bible" seminars and developed "Isaiah: A Joyful Vision," exploring Isaiah in both spiritual and cultural directions.  Both of these experiences were offered in a number of congregations.

As the new millennium dawned, LBM set about examining its program in light of new needs and opportunities, seeking ways to help contemporary Christians (1) to appreciate the power of Scripture to energize faith and focus life, (2) to understand the relevance of the power of the Gospel to daily life, and (3) to stimulate spiritual renewal within congregations.

 Reviewed/Revised:  05/01/09



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