Faculty Update: Advancement & Tenure

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”
Matthew 25:21

At the end of each academic year, Concordia Theological Seminary (CTSFW), Fort Wayne, has the opportunity to acknowledge the work of our faculty and to promote and celebrate their advancement. In a recent meeting, the Board of Regents called the Rev. Dr. Don C. Wiley to the faculty as assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions and granted tenure to the Rev. Dr. Gifford A. Grobien. Only a month before that, Prof. (now Dr.) John T. Pless was honored by Concordia University Chicago, who awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Wiley first graduated from CTSFW in 1992 with a Master’s of Divinity (M.Div.), followed in 2009 with a Master’s of Sacred Theology in Exegetical Theology before finally receiving his Ph.D. in Missiology in 2017. His first experience overseas was as a vicar in Panamá, later becoming in ordained missionary there in the mid-90s. Last year Wiley was called as a mission specialist to CTSFW, though he’s been working with the Rev. Dr. Arthur A. Just Jr. in Spanish Language Church Worker Formation since 2013, when Just contacted him to prepare the first preaching course for the international program.

“I am very humbled to be called to serve the Lord and His Church as an assistant professor here at CTSFW,” Wiley said. “I am excited to continue working in our Hispanic/Latino Programs, providing the day-to-day administration of our SMP–Español/English Program, assisting in the development and deployment of Spanish language courses both here in the U.S. and internationally, and generally promoting the importance of reaching out to our Hispanic and Latino neighbors with the love of Christ in our M.Div. Program. The Lord has provided me a unique experience in serving as a missionary in Panamá, then serving congregations in the multiethnic and multicultural environment of Southern California. I count it a privilege to prepare future pastors and missiologists in these fast-changing times.”

Alongside the awarding of tenure by the Board of Regents, Grobien also advanced in rank to associate professor of Systematic Theology. “This action by the Board of Regents is a public acknowledgement of the fine and faithful service of Dr. Grobien at CTSFW for the past six years,” said the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Gieschen, academic dean, “both in the classroom and with his exemplary leadership of our revamped Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Program.” The revamping that Gieschen is referring to is Grobien’s reorganization of the courses, which has increased the number of D.Min. students at CTSFW by making the program easier for working pastors to fit into their schedules.

Grobien joined the CTSFW faculty in 2012 as assistant professor of Systematic Theology and director of the D.Min. Program. He graduated with his M.Div. in Exegetical Theology from CTSFW in 2005, earning his Ph.D. in Moral Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 2011 where he also taught in their Department of Theology. His dissertation on “Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Minds: Christian Worship as the Root of Righteousness and Ethical Formation” reflects his intersecting interests in the doctrine of salvation, worship, ethics, virtue and natural law. His recent publications include “The Christian Voice in the Civil Realm” and “Marriage and So-Called Civil Unions in Light of Natural Law,” both published in issues of Concordia Theological Quarterly.

In 1983 Pless entered The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) by colloquy at CTSFW. For the past 18 years he has served on the CTSFW faculty as director of Field Education and assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, though he has worked in higher education since 1979, first as assistant to dean of Chapel at Valparaiso University, then for 17 years as campus pastor at University Lutheran Chapel at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He has served on multiple LCMS boards and committees, and is currently chairman of the Synod’s Commission on Doctrinal Review. He is also known for his many books, among them Praying Luther’s Small CatechismHandling the Word of Truth: Law and Gospel in the Church Today and Luther on the Care for the Sick and the Dying.

A familiar face at various conferences and seminaries both in the United States and overseas as a lecturer, Pless has served both CTSFW and many others. “Students have benefited from the teaching and prolific writing of Dr. Pless for many years,” said Dr. Gieschen. “We rejoice with him in the well-deserved honor and recognition bestowed upon him by Concordia University Chicago.”