Lutheranism & the Classics V

Dr. Nordling (far right) speaks with conference attendees.

Lutheranism & the Classics V (“Arguing with the Philosophers”) has officially drawn to a close. The conference takes place every other year, serving as a two-day learning event for those who love the study of theology, the classics, and the classical languages; there was a lot of Latin both cited and quoted throughout the presentations. This year the conference drew over 130 attendees, about 40 of whom were CTSFW students.
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Dr. Nordling, who heads the conference, opened by introducing the first plenary speaker, Dr. Angus Menuge (Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon), who himself introduced this year’s topic by opening with a presentation on the Lutheran philosophy of reason.‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

Dr. Angus Menuge. “You can get a measure of a man by the books he has authored or edited,” Dr. Nordling said of Dr. Menuge, referring to his body of work.

He began by noting that Luther was known to speak harshly against Reason. “Frau Hulda…the devil’s prostitute,” Luther wrote in “Against the Heavenly Prophets (“Frau Hulda” was his way of personifying Reason), “can do nothing else but slander and dishonor what God does and says.”
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However, in the “Disputation Concerning Man,” Luther also acknowledges that, “Philosophy or human wisdom defines man as an animal having reason…And it is certainly true that reason is the most important and the highest in rank among all things… It is the inventor and mentor of all the arts, medicines, laws, and of whatever wisdom, power, virtue, and glory men possess in this life…a kind of god appointed to administer these things in this life. Nor did God after the fall of Adam take away this majesty of reason, but rather confirmed it.”
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Thus we conclude that Luther believed in natural reason, but recognized the limitations in it. That is, that:
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1. Reason can judge earthly matters, but cannot judge in heavenly matters.
2. Reason can know God exists, but it does not know who He is.
3. Reason can argue for God, but (not knowing who He is) constructs idols.
4. Reason can apprehend the basic meaning of Scripture, but it cannot comprehend the mystery nor grasp its promises.
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“Reason is a valuable servant,” Dr. Menuge said, “but it requires the right external input and guidance.”

Dr. Roland Ziegler on “Double Truth? Daniel Hofmann and the Discussion on the Relation of Theology and Philosophy.”

The final keynote presentation by Dr. Roland Ziegler (The Robert D. Preus Associate Professor Systematic Theology and Confessional Lutheran Studies here at CTSFW) also spoke on this question of authority, and the use of reason in religion. You have the philosophers (“The patriarchs of heathens according to carnal wisdom,” Dr. Ziegler described them) who claim that philosophy must interpret Scripture, versus St. Paul, who says the mind must be captive to Scripture. 2 Corinthians 10:5:
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“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
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And so we have a clear answer to our argument with the philosophers. There is value in reason and philosophy, but: “Philosophy,” Dr. Ziegler explained, “has to be in submission to Holy Scriptures.”‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

One of the sectionals taking place in L-7. Dr. C.J. Armstrong (Concordia University, Irvine) presenting his paper “Dear Prudentius: A Classical Contradiction in Beza’s Triumphant Exposition of Predestination Dogma.”

The longer plenary presentation are not available, but you can still access and read the abstracts from the sectionals at Dr. Sarah Byers and Dr. Christian Kopff were the other keynote speakers, though I was unable to attend Dr. Byer’s session to take notes (and Dr. Kopff had to cancel due to health issues; we prayed for him in chapel this morning). You can learn more about all four keynote speakers here:

Convocation: Lutheranism in the UK

There’s a lot of extra learning opportunities on campus this week, from Lutheranism & the Classics (a two-day, bi-annual conference for those interested in the conjunction between theology and the study of classical antiquity) today and tomorrow, to the Christ Academy: Confirmation Retreat coming up this weekend. But the learning first started this week with a convocation on Wednesday, when Dr. Cynthia Lumley, Principal of Westfield House of Theological Studies in Cambridge UK, lectured on “Lutheranism in England.”

‍‍‍‍‍Our former Associate Director of Deaconess Formation, Dr. Lumley makes the trip back to CTSFW nearly every year to talk to the students about studying abroad at Westfield House. Westfield House exists alongside Cambridge, as seminarians in Britain are expected to go to an academic college to earn an academic theology degree, while simultaneously attending a house of their specific denomination, which teaches them their doctrine and how to interpret the things they’re learning in their academic degree. Westfield House is a sister seminary of the LCMS, as we are in partnership with the ELCE (Evangelical Lutheran Church of England).
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The Lutheran presence in the UK is small, as it has always historically been. Great Britain is, in fact, rapidly changing into a mission field for all denominations, with 70% of 16 to 29-year-olds identifying no religious affiliation as secularism becomes the dominant cultural force. Only 5% of the population attends church (25% of whom are Anglican, 22% Catholic, while Lutherans fall into the “other denominations” category).
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Christianity first came to Britain in the early AD’s, with legend claiming that Joseph of Arimathea came to England’s shores in 63 AD. The English hymn “Jerusalem” by William Blake (considered, by many Brits, to be England’s unofficial national anthem) refers to this. The first recorded British Christian was St. Alban, martyred in AD 209, while the oldest archaeological evidence of Christianity is a Chi-Rho wall painting from AD 350. However, much of England fell to paganism for the next couple centuries, though Christianity remained in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. These Christians refused to try and convert the pagan Anglo-Saxons (according to Dr. Lumley they legitimately wanted them to burn in hell), they also did not stand in Augustine’s way when the first archbishop of Canterbury came as a missionary in the 600s, allowing him to reintroduce Christianity to the lost.
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Skipping forward nearly 1,000 years to the introduction of Lutheranism:
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Within four weeks of October 31, 1517, the 95 theses had been smuggled into the east coast ports from Antwerp and were being debated in pubs, particularly by the White Horse Inn Group. Henry the VIII declared Luther a heretic and the pope rewarded him with the title of “Defender of the Faith.” The pope took back the title when Henry VIII broke with Catholicism and declared himself head of the Church of England so that he could divorce his wife, but parliament later voted it back in again. “Defender of the Faith” has been one of the official titles of every ruling monarch since and is on all English coins, generally abbreviated as Fid. Def. or simply F.D.
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Henry VIII had at least one Lutheran Queen and maybe two: Anne of Cleves and possibly Ann Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth I. Elizabeth re-established the Church of England (mother church of Anglicanism), which remains the only protestant faith that has not splintered into separate denominations. However, it has done so by housing many diverse and often opposing beliefs within it. “Because it tries to be everything to everyone,” Dr. Lumley explained, “the Church of England has no clear statement of faith.”
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However, the Augsburg Confession can be found in the 39 Articles of the Church of England; five of the articles are almost identical to the Augsburg Confession and another 11 are rewritten versions. Furthermore, the Anglican forms of communion, marriage, confirmation, baptism, and burial were influenced by early Lutheran orders.
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The first official Lutheran church in Britain began in 1672, and 17 years later the Toleration Act of 1689 permitted the existence of Protestant groups outside of the Church of England as long as they accepted the doctrine of the Trinity. There was actually a Lutheran King as well: George I in 1714, who was, by royal duty, simultaneously the head of the Church of England. He spoke German and no English, and his presence brought a lot of German immigrants into the court. Lutheranism became the third most common religion at court, though it remained foreign to the common people. By 1728, there were five Lutheran churches in London.
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As to the history of the ELCE (Dr. Lumley added, with some amusement, that at every conference their two congregations in Scotland and Wales try to vote “England” out of the Synod’s official name), began on January 1, 1954, though it can trace its roots back to 1896 and six German bakers. These six founders asked Concordia Seminary in St. Louis for a pastor, each of them pledging a fifth of their weekly 25 shillings pay to support him. They were members of the LCMS Atlantic District from 1911-1954, until they were able to establish their own Synod in 1954 with the help of the LCMS. Rev. Norman Nagel was installed as their first pastor on January 3, 1954.
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Rev. Nagel had been called to the ELCE to Cambridge to get a Ph.D. and to establish a seminary. He managed to obtain prime Cambridge property for Westfield House by following a rumor. He had heard that a professor was thinking of retiring and so boldly knocked on the man’s door to ask if this were true. He invited Rev. Nagel in for tea (“Apart from the pub,” Dr. Lumley noted, “all the best conversations happen over tea.”) and agreed to sell the property to the church. Though the doctor later received several higher offers, he stuck by his original promise. Westfield House’s first chapel was a shed some of the students cleaned out.
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At this present time, the ELCE has 14 congregations, 6 missions, and about 800 members spread across the UK. Their 11 pastors hail from 9 different countries, and many of their students come to Westfield House through study abroad programs. Westfield House is a training center for those who have no seminary, including African and East Europe.
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The Lutheran church in the UK faces a lot of struggles because of its small size. There are vacant pulpits – not simply because of a lack of pastors, but because of a lack of funds – and pastors often take on dual parishes. Challenges that face Lutheranism in the UK includes:
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1. Historically, Germans were persona non-grata after both wars, and Lutheranism is – or, perhaps more accurately, WAS – seen as a German denomination.

2. Size. Their small numbers outreach difficult.

3. Lutheran worship does not feel familiar. ELCE churches’ use the LSB as their hymnal, which means even the spelling of Savior (Saviour) is immediately foreign and unfamiliar to their eyes; it seems like a small thing, but it’s not.

4. The deeply British value of toleration, which has been taken so far that it’s almost becoming intolerant to Christianity.
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On September 25, 2010, following the Dedication of Luther Hall, Dr. Norman Nagel wrote the following to his “Dear Friends of Westfield House”:
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“How super abundant are our Lord’s blessings. He brought us through the lean years when some people were willing to let Westfield House die. But the faithful staff and loyal Friends of Westfield House held on. And today we celebrate the lives of our Lord will bless through their lodging and studying in this building. My heart is with you with overflowing and joyful gratitude.”
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Thanks be to God for His faithfulness. It was a pleasure to have you with us, Dr. Lumley, to teach us about the history of Lutheranism in the UK, and to help us to better know our brothers and sisters in Great Britain. Thank you!

ILC Conference: Rast Presentation

President Rast presented at the International Lutheran Council (ILC) World Conference today in Antwerp, Belgium. This morning the ILC welcomed seventeen new church bodies into membership, ten from Africa, three from Europe, and four from Asia, bringing the total number of church bodies in the ILC to 54, now representing 7.15 million Lutherans.
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The ILC Executive Secretary, Rev. Dr. Albert Collver who is also Director of Church Relations in the LCMS and Assistant to President Harrison, introduced the conference theme of “Ecclesiology and Ecumenism,” followed by our own Dr. Roland Ziegler (Professor of Systematic Theology and Confessional Lutheran Studies here at CTSFW).
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President Rast later spoke on the topic “Turning Points: A History of the Fellowship Issue in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.” Papers from the World Conference will be published on the ILC website in October and rumor has it that there may be an audio recording available of President Rast’s presentation. However, as these are not yet available (we will let you know here on our Facebook page once we have links to share), the following is a small excerpt from his presentation:
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“[In the 1800s, America] was a radically “churched” culture and becoming more so all the time. In this peculiar context, so different than the one that we face today, first allow me to say what the Missouri Synod’s purpose was not. The LCMS was NOT formed to establish the truth of Christianity. For most Americans in 1847, Christianity was the true religion and its Bible was the Word of God. As such, Missouri was relieved of the burden of making arguments for Christianity’s truthfulness. Rather, what was thrust upon it and what it took up willingly and vigorously was to establish the superiority of the Lutheran confession among the various confessions of the churches. And then beyond that to demonstrate the superiority of its doctrinal understanding and practical application of the Lutheran Confessions among the myriad of Lutheran synods in the United States.
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“My point is this: we have struggled, are struggling, and will continue to struggle with the implementation of biblical truth within rapidly changing historical contexts. That has always been the Church’s problem and it will continue so to be until our Lord returns. What this small study hopes to do is to locate a portion of that tension in the question regarding church fellowship. It is perspectival and does not pretend to be exhaustive. It simply seeks to offer an overview with a few explicit examples of how the Synod has faced its ‘turning points.’”
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He then presented the following turning points:

1. Coming to America
2. Forming the LCMS
3. Working Toward Confessional Lutheran Union
4. Picking Up the Pieces after the Predestination Controversy
5. Riding the Ecumenical Roller Coaster
6. We have Met the Enemy…
7. Quo Vadis Missouri?
8. (Also titled Turning Point #?) What’s Next?
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President Rast concluded:
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“The [LCMS] was from its beginning committed…to unity in the truth. Church unity is bound to unity in doctrine and is possible because of the theological unity, which has its basis in the complete truthfulness and clarity of Scripture. False teaching…and false teachers have to be avoided. On this, there is agreement throughout the history of the LCMS. But there is also significant difference of opinion on how to carry that out. Too often we claim a simple historical consensus on the part of Missouri Synod on this question. The reality, not surprisingly, is far more complicated. It is always that way in families and, I expect, it will be that way until our Lord returns. For our part, we live in the here and now with hope and expectation, always relying on the mercy of our gracious God, who has provided salvation for us in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
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You can learn more about the ILC (and especially this conference, including the new member churches), on their news page at

Lieder Endowment for Organ Maintenance

Financial support to CTSFW comes from a lot of different directions and in a lot of different ways. We have robust student aid programs, folks who like to give to the general fund so that their money can go wherever it is most needed, and those who like to establish and give to specific projects.
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Larry and Elaine Lieder are such people. They established the Lawrence and Mildred Lieder Endowment for Organ Maintenance, which keeps the organ in Kramer Chapel in good condition. They were in Fort Wayne this past week, giving Kantor Hildebrand the chance to show them the organ and the work on the instrument that has been funded by their endowment. They got to take a look inside the Schlicker pipe organ (designed by Herman Schlicker of the Schlicker Organ Company and Eero Saarinen, the architect behind our campus who is most famous for designing the Arch in St. Louis), where the leather has to be maintained to keep leaks from developing (which causes, as Kantor Hildebrand explained it, the pipes to “sing” on their own). All 2,909 pipes were designed to fit into and match the design of the chapel itself.
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Our thanks go to the Lieders for their generosity; I think I speak for a lot of us (from the kantors to the musicians to the worshipers who attend in person and watch daily chapel online) when I say thank you. If you would like to find out more about the Lawrence and Mildred Lieder Endowment or about any ongoing needs or projects at CTSFW, contact our Advancement Office at [email protected] or by calling (877) 287-4338.

You’re looking at 2,909 pipes – or nearly that many. Not all of them made this shot, though it gives you an idea of the richness of range that is capable from this organ.
If you’ve ever been up in the choir loft of Kramer Chapel, this is a door you may have passed without noticing it. This gives the Kantors (and anyone else who needs it) access to the pipes.
Kantor Hildebrand gave the Lieders (on the right, with Advancement Officer Lance Hoffman sitting to their left) a short lesson on the organ and how its different parts work in conjunction with each other.

2018 Fieldwork Assignments

Dr. Pless begins the announcement of field education assignments. Local pastors were in attendance to meet their new fieldworkers.

Dr. John Pless and Deaconess Amy Rast announced fieldwork assignments for the first-year pastoral and diaconal students this morning following chapel. Pastors and other representatives of these local churches were in attendance to meet their new fieldworkers, who will serve at these churches for the next two years, gaining practical experience in preparation for vicarage and deaconess internships.

Phyllis Thieme, President of the Seminary Guild, passes out a copy of the PCC to a first-year seminarian.

The Seminary Guild was on hand following the assignments to pass out copies of the “Pastoral Care Companion” (PCC), a book that contains prayers, readings, hymns, liturgy, and other guidance in every situation from birth to death. Originally designed for pastors, the book is also adaptable to diaconal service and acts of mercy as these women will be faced with many situations that require the comfort and encouragement of Scripture. “It’s not just another textbook,” Dr. Pless, Director of Field Education, explained, “but a resource that will follow them through the days of Seminary and into congregations.”

To learn more about the Legacy Project (as this ongoing Seminary Guild project to provide every diaconal and pastoral student with a copy of the PCC is called), contact [email protected] You can also learn more about the work of the Seminary Guild at

To view all field assignments, go to

The first-year class of diaconal students with their copies of the PCC, following fieldwork assignments. Deaconess Amy Rast, Associate Director of Deaconess Formation, stands on the far right.

SMP Intensives

“The Lord’s Supper” with Dr. Masaki (SMP Class of 2015 and 2016); “Lutheran Confessions: Intro and Overview” with Dr. Mayes (Class of 2018); and “Heaven on Earth” with Dr. Grime (SMP Class of 2017).

SMP Intensives ended at noon today, which is a week-long, intense course of on-campus classes for students in the Specific Ministry Pastor program. Due to the uniqueness of the course and its long-distance nature (the SMP program is designed to train and mentor a leader within a congregation that could not otherwise call a pastor – often a vacancy that has no funds or a non-English-speaking ministry that would be damaged by the prolonged absence of the student – and is not meant for, let alone open to, most men who desire to become a pastor), we rarely get to see these men, though they are a part of our student body.
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Gemütlichkeit (and a couple of Theology Nerds, if their shirts are to be believed).

Most of the hours in each day are packed with classes, though time for worship in Kramer Chapel was built into their schedules, which is why the pews looked more full than usual this week during daily chapel services. On Thursday evening, the students of the SMP program also took the time to host gemütlichkeit for the whole Seminary community. Gemütlichkeit is a German word that is in some ways untranslatable – it describes a feeling rather than a specific term, one of warmth, friendliness, contentedness, and good cheer – but here at CTSFW it means the weekly Friday evening get-together for faculty, students, and their families to gather at the Student Commons to drink beer and talk.
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It can be hard to convey how much of the formation process of Seminary occurs between classes. There’s a lot of laughter at these get-togethers, but if you eavesdrop on the conversations, 90% of it is about theology. They argue, agree, run their questions and opinions past the professors (one of the things we are quietly proud of here is the fact that CTSFW has no faculty lounge; the professors eat lunch and drink coffee – and beer – with their students), and through it all learn. In the words of Proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” And so it is a joy to have these men here with us. God’s blessings to our SMP students as they travel home to their families and their ministries!

Top: Gemütlichkeit inside. Director of Admission, Rev. Matt Wietfeldt sits on the far right with students. Bottom: Gemütlichkeit spreads out into the portico while the weather remains good.

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Today we remember St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. From Matthew 9:9-13:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

180th Anniversary: Wyneken’s Journey

It’s another 180th year anniversary in the life of Friedrich Wyneken, the Seminary’s first president. On September 20, 1838, the then-missionary reached the settlement of Friedheim (near Decatur, IN). From the writings of our electronic resources librarian (and historian), Rev. Robert E. Smith:

“The first German he met in Indiana received the missionary with suspicion. ‘If you are an honest pastor, then go to that house over there. A very sick man lies in it,” the woodman challenged. ‘If you are something else, like most pastors coming from Germany, then go over there to the rich wagonmaker!’ ‘Nevertheless, I’d love to see the sick man first,’ Wyneken quipped and then carried through. At this sick man’s home, he learned of Karl Friedrich Buuck, the leader of Jesse Hoover’s Adams County congregation and the pastor’s future father-in-law.”

As was his habit, Wyneken stayed in the area some days to minister to the people there before moving on to Fort Wayne and New Haven. The Wabash-Erie Canal (which made Fort Wayne a focal point in the nationwide water transportation system — in fact you can still walk along the remains of the canal, which serves as a popular bike and walking trail near the Seminary — and thus a good home base for Wyneken who had been assigned the task of surveying Indiana and its ministerial needs) had been completed to Logansport, IN only the year before.

To learn more about this leg in Wyneken’s missionary journey into Indiana, go to


Corpus Christi Conference

Photo essay: ‘Future and Hope’ at the 2018 Corpus Christi conference

Dr. Masaki shared photos on his Facebook page from this article on the Corpus Christi conference, which was also published in the September 2018 issue of the Reporter. Thanks go to Erik Lunsford, photojournalist for LCMS Communications, who so beautifully documents the mission, world relief, and human care work of the LCMS. Dr. Masaki has a number of personal connections and behind-the-scenes insight into the Corpus Christi conference that was held in July in Prague, Czech Republic. In this words:

“The conference, which was originated in the leading work of a CTSFW’s graduate of the STM program, Rev. Jakob Appell of Gothenburg, Sweden, has now reached the milestone of the 10th anniversary.” (Dr. Masaki mentioned that it was inspired by Higher Things, though the Corpus Christi conference is open to a wider age-range since the number of young adult, confessional Lutherans in Europe is so small.)

“As a Director of the STM program of CTSFW, I am very proud to have found two current students of the STM in Gothenburg extension site: Rev. Romans Kurpnieks of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) and Rev. Konstantin Subbotin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR), as well as our STM graduate of the main campus, Rev. Tapani Simojoki, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE).

“Obviously there are others from our STM program participating and playing leadership roles in this international conference. May the Lord continue to have a good use of these colleagues of ours! His blessings abound! And thank you, Cynthia Wrucke, for this wonderful report!”

Dr. Just Appointed to New Position

Dr. Arthur Just was recently appointed to a new position by the Office of International Mission as Associate Director of Regional Operations – Latin American and Caribbean (including Spain). As you can see, Dr. Just is another of our faculty very active overseas, with his particular focus in the Spanish-speaking world. Here on campus he also serves as Director of Spanish Language Church Worker Formation alongside his teaching duties. You can keep up to date with his travels through his Facebook page, Arthur Just Career Missionary.

Left to right: Rev. Dan McMiller (Executive Driector of OIM), Dr. Just, and Rev. Jim Krikava (Associate Executive Director of Eurasia/Asia)

You may recognize another face among these pictures: Rev. Sergio Fritzler, who was installed at CTSFW during Opening Service a couple of weeks ago as Director of SMP Español/English. The Friday after he was installed, he and Dr. Just (along with Pastor Fritzler’s sons, Enzo and Martin) visited Concordia Chicago University to see President Dan Gard, and that Sunday got to see one of our vicars at work in St. John’s Wheaton (Illinois). Vicar Miguel Barcelos is from Portugal (far left in this picture), and will return to his country to serve as a minister.