Dr. Just: Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain

Dr. Just at a service in the Dominican Republic. Photo courtesy Johanna Heidor, official photographer for the Latin America, Caribbean mission region.

About a month ago, Dr. Just (our Chairman and Professor of Exegetical Theology as well as Director of Spanish Language Church Worker Formation) was installed at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis as Associate Executive Director of Regional Operations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. Dr. Just has been serving as a half-time career missionary officially since March, though he has been working with Spain for many years prior, teaching at the Seminario Concordia El Reformador in the Dominican Republic. Though this new position will change the scope of his duties on the mission field, he will continue to teach full-time during the Winter and Spring Quarters here at CTSFW.

Dr. Just (right) was installed alongside Mr. Christian Boehlke (associate director of St. Louis operations). The President of the Synod, Dr. Matthew Harrison, presides. Photo courtesy Erik Lunsford, LCMS Communications.

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Dr. Just has been in contact with the Spanish language and Latin culture since he was 13 years old, when his father moved the family to Mexico City in 1966, then later to Bilbao, Spain, first igniting his son’s interest in the area. Now Dr. Just will oversee LCMS mission work in the Spanish-speaking world. Including both Dr. and Mrs. Just, 101 people serve in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain, 20 of whom are ordained pastors. Of these 101 missionaries (including families), 79 are LCMS and 22 are from partner churches (called “alliance missionaries”).
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Dr. Just has been busy. Over the summer and fall he taught Greek Readings and Pastoral Theology courses (on Luther’s Small Catechism and the importance of visitations) in the Dominican Republic, preached in Madrid, Spain, gathered with mission partners in Jamaica and Minnesota (where they discussed the overwhelming human care needs in Puerto Rico following the hurricane), and attended the LCMS International Mission Meeting in San Diego where Dr. Detlev Schulz (Co-director of International Studies and Director of the PhD in Missiology Program here at CTSFW) presented on altar and pulpit fellowship with the Synod’s partner churches. He also had the chance to attend an ordination in Bolivia, Pastor Osmel Soliz who was the first pastor ordained from the seminary in the Domincian Republic. Three other Bolivian students from this seminary will be ordained next summer.

Students in the Dominican Republic. Photo courtesy Johanna Heidor.

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You may also recall the installation of Rev. Sergio Fritzler (as Director of SMP Español/English, which is a joint distance learning program between CTSFW and Seminario Concordia El Reformador) and Dr. Don Wiley as Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, and Assistant Director of Spanish-Speaking Pastoral Formation. Dr. Just will play a role in overseeing these men as well; CTSFW and her faculty continue to have an impact on world-wide Lutheranism.‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

This information was gathered from Dr. Just’s November newsletter regarding his mission work. You can keep up with his travels and his work overseas through his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arthurjustmissionary or by reading his newsletters here: https://us17.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=3312c6f4fc517666f9bb045bd&id=4bddd26d20.

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

As I looked,

thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
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“I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
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Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

You can see this reading from Daniel in LSB 802, “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”:
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Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
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Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.
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To all life Thou givest–to both great and small–
In all life Thou livest, the true Life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree
And wither and perish–but naught changes Thee.
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Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendor of light that hides Thee.

Military Project

Deaconess Carolyn Brinkley works here on campus, in a small windowless office from which, she explains with a smile, she gets to serve as a deaconess all over the world. She works as Military Project Coordinator, answering requests from chaplains and putting together projects to support our servicemen and women. “I am truly blessed,” Deaconess Brinkley said, speaking of all the support she receives from individuals, schools, churches, and other organizations across the country that fund these projects. “I have never had to turn down any requests that have come in.”

One of the ongoing projects is body and soul care packages, which include notes of encouragement. Yesterday after chapel, students, faculty, and staff signed these notes during coffee hour. They will go to a number of LCMS chaplains and those servicemen and women whom Deaconess Brinkley has been specifically asked to keep in mind. In the Fall Quarter at least one of these servicemen was a near-seminarian who had to put off his theological training for deployment; this quarter some of these letters will go to the brothers of current students.

To learn more about the Military Project and how you can help, go to www.ctsfw.edu/MilitaryProject.

What Child Is This?

In 1865, the manager of a maritime insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland, lay bedridden with a sudden, severe illness. Suffering from both physical and mental despair, William Chatterton Dix leaned on the promises of Christ during this period, penning the poem, “The Manger Throne.” The title probably isn’t familiar, but many of the words, phrases, and lyrics are; go to LSB 370, and you’ll find the very familiar Christmas hymn this poem eventually formed, one which asks a very well-known question:

“What Child Is This?”

The world of the 21st century wants to avoid this question. For many folks, Christmas becomes a time to reflect on the activities of the past year and to launch into the New Year. It has lost meaning even as a season to share a religious observance with family and friends. But with the stroke of a pen, Mr. Dix answered in song the most important question ever asked in the history of the world: what child is this?

In his hour of great need, the hymn writer found comfort in what This Child—the Word made flesh—does for him. One day nails and spear would pierce through This Child. One day This Child would bear the cross—for me, for you. That’s the way the King of kings pleads for sinners here and brings salvation.

Here at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, we form and equip servants to bring the Good News of Jesus, This Child of Bethlehem. We prepare these servants to answer the questions of a world desperately in need of a Savior.

In the third stanza, Mr. Dix reminds us that gifts of incense, gold, and myrrh are freely given. Such gifts—given out of love and reverence—become traveling money for the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, in their hour of great need.

Today we ask for your prayers and your financial support. Please consider a gift to the Seminary to prepare men and women to deliver the Good News of This Child. You can give today at https://my.ctsfw.edu/giving-tuesday.

As a point of interest, here is “The Manger Throne” by William Chatterton Dix in full:

LIKE silver lamps in a distant shrine,
The stars are sparkling bright
The bells of the city of God ring out,
For the Son of Mary is born to-night.
The gloom is past and the morn at last
Is coming with orient light.
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Never fell melodies half so sweet
As those which are filling the skies,
And never a palace shone half so fair
As the manger bed where our Saviour lies;
No night in the year is half so dear
As this which has ended our sighs.
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Now a new Power has come on the earth,
A match for the armies of Hell:
A Child is born who shall conquer the foe,
And all the spirits of wickedness quell:
For Mary’s Son is the Mighty One
Whom the prophets of God fortell.
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The stars of heaven still shine as at first
They gleamed on this wonderful night;
The bells of the city of God peal out
And the angels’ song still rings in the height;
And love still turns where the Godhead burns
Hid in flesh from fleshly sight.
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Faith sees no longer the stable floor,
The pavement of sapphire is there
The clear light of heaven streams out to the world
And the angels of God are crowding the air,
And heaven and earth, through the spotless birth
Are at peace on this night so fair.

Wyneken’s Journey Continues

It’s been awhile since we checked back with Friedrich Wyneken, missionary pastor to Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, who was so instrumental to the formation of CTSFW. We’ve missed a couple of 180 year anniversaries of his missionary journey into and around Fort Wayne.

On October 2, 1838, Wyneken reported on a cholera epidemic, devastating the people: “On the whole, from a human point of view, the time in which I traveled was an unfortunate time to work for God’s kingdom. Sickness raged everywhere. Often I entered a town where not one house was without a sick person: In many homes, everyone was sick, so that often my gatherings were very small.”

The congregations that gathered to hear him were small, struggling with sickness and in need of organization. A couple of weeks later he visited an area where the German settlers “belonged to no church.” Wyneken tracked them down at the taverns, dragging them by verbal argument to an evening worship service, after which he lectured them into agreeing to gather in prayer on Sundays.

His journey took him along the Wabash-Erie canal and the present rout of US 12. Six weeks of traveling throughout northern Indiana and South Central Michigan to determine where congregations could be gathered and begun, he finally returned to Fort Wayne on November 16, 1838.

At that time he was told (via letter) by the Mission Society who had sent him to accept the call as pastor at St. Paul’s here in Fort Wayne and to simultaneously remain a missionary. At that point Wyneken knew it was too much work for one man, and suggested they find and call more preachers to the area, asking that he be dismissed from missionary service. Wyneken would spend that Advent and Christmas in the area, but only because his horse was lame.

It would be another 7-8 years before formal classes began for the Seminary in Fort Wayne, but you can see where Wyneken’s understanding of the deep need of the Lutherans in American started. In 1842 he would visit Germany and write the “Notruf” (“The Distress of the German Lutherans in North America”), which directly led to the formation of the LCMS and CTSFW as the practical seminary to help meet the desperate need of the German settlers. They were spiritually starving, and the laborers were too few.

This image created by Concordia Historical Institute (and held in their collection) was likely painted at Lesum, Germany in 1842. Friedrich Wyneken was on his famous tour of Germany–where he wrote the Notruf–to raise funds and recruit pastors for America.

This information gathered from the following posts, written by one of our librarians, Rev. Robert Smith. To read more about Wyneken’s missionary work in detail, go to:

Friedrich Wyneken’s Missionary Journey

Wyneken Heads South to the Wabash

Friedrich Wyneken Returns to Fort Wayne

Faculty Travel: Pless & Masaki

We have a handful of faculty overseas at the moment, taking advantage of the quarter break. One is Dr. John T. Pless, in Sweden at a mission conference. He gave two lectures at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gothenburg, his first on “Confessing Christ in a Hostile Culture: A Lutheran Response to the New Atheists” and the second on “A Confessional Lutheran Approach to Missions Today.”

Because of the location, he had the opportunity to reconnect with many friends, including pastors who had earned their STM at CTSFW. The names of these men and their connections to CTSFW can be found in the description of each photo.

With Pastor Jakob Appell (left) and Pastor Daniel Lars Brandt (right).
With the family of Dr. Daniel Johansson (far left).
Dr Bengt and Maria Bergesson. Dr. Bergesson, now retired, received an honorary doctorate from CTSFW.
Lunch with Pastor Fredrik Sidenvall , a leader of the confessional movement in Sweden and principal of a large Lutheran high school (575 students) in Gothenburg. Pastor Sidenvall has spoken at the Symposium at CTSFW and is a good friend of our seminary.

Dr. Naomichi Masaki is another of our faculty currently out of the country, this time in Nigeria. He will be in Africa until this weekend, teaching at the Jonathan Ekong Memorial Lutheran Seminary in Uyo. His three classes are on the Lutheran Confessions, the Lord’s Supper, and a Theological Seminar for all students, and will also preach at chapel every day .

Dr. Masaki has reported that the weather is very different from Fort Wayne (90 degrees Fahrenheit and “like being a sauna!”) and he added this, concerning the seminary and his students:

“Quite encouraged by a confessional Lutheran atmosphere of the seminary. Thoroughly enjoying to study with eager and promising young pastoral students. Shortage of pastors and theologians is the urgent need of this growing church body. Let us remember this seminary in our ongoing prayers!”

He has also had the opportunity to visit the Rev. Dr. Christian Ekong, archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria at his headquarter office. Dr. Masaki expects that he will have further opportunities for preaching, teaching, and meeting others. “In the foreign field you will be asked to do something only on a very short notice,” he wrote. “I am accustomed to it.

“I do know that I will be able to observe a funeral tomorrow morning. I will visit a village church on Sunday where I might be asked to preach. There will be a traditional kind of dinner on Wednesday next week at the seminary. And at the national convention perhaps I will be asked to bring a greeting from LCMS.”

God’s richest blessings to our brothers and sisters in Africa (and across the whole world), and to Dr. Masaki as he finishes his journey in Nigeria and returns back to us here in Fort Wayne in time for Winter Quarter.

Dr. Masaki with some of his Evangelist 1 students. The typical formation process is two years as an Evangelist 1 then 2 student (similar to pre-seminary), followed by two years of serving at a church, then three more years of study (as a Pastoral 1, 2, and 3 student), followed by another two or three years of service in a congregation, and finally ordination.
This is one of Dr. Masaki’s Theological Seminars, typically hled for all student on campus. “A lively theological conversation is taking place every day,” Dr. Masaki noted on his Facebook page. “Quite enjoyable!”
Lutheran Confessions with the Pastor 1 students.

COP Presentation: A Changing World and Unchanged Hope

President Lawrence R. Rast Jr. (CTSFW, standing at the podium) and President Dale A. Meyer (CSL, far left standing in the back) presented to the Council of Presidents in San Diego last week on how the seminaries can help the Church in our present culture.

American culture has changed, deeply. The cultural landscape is one of multiculturalism, identity politics, post-sexual revolution, bioethical changes, economic disparity and record debt, distrust of institutions, anti-Christian judgments, and dysfunction at all levels. Religiously, Protestant/Judeo-Christian morality in America has given way to the morality of self-fulfillment, even within the church. According to Barna Trends 2017:

  • 91% of US adults and 76% of practicing Christians agree that the best way to find yourself is to look within yourself.
  • 89% and 76% agree that people should not criticize someone else’s life choices.
  • 86% and 72% agree that to be fulfilled in life, you should pursue the things you most desire.
  • 84% and 67% agree that the highest goal of life is to enjoy it as much as possible.

Or, as the study concluded, that “While we wring our hands about secularism spreading through culture, a majority of churchgoing Christians have embraced corrupt, me-centered theology.”

Congregations are trending smaller and older, as are their pastors. Additional trends promise challenges, and others opportunity: people are concentrating in the largest churches, congregations are more independent, there’s increasing ethnic diversity of predominantly (and historically) white congregations, more informal worship, more gender inclusiveness, great acceptance of homosexual behavior, and more technology.

And what are the seminaries’ response to these changing times? “Dale and I have one word to describe the present and future of the seminaries,” Dr. Rast said, speaking to the District Presidents. “You have one word to describe your district’s present and future. We have one word to describe the LCMS’s present and future:


Our hope is in Christ, our confession founded firmly on the rock of God’s Word. As such, the present educational intentions in training future clergy remain clear: to facilitate the interpretation of texts, to raise students’ consciousness of historical and contemporary contexts, to cultivate student performance in public clergy roles, and to nurture dispositions and habits integral to the vocation of religious leadership.

To assist the church in facing these challenges, both seminaries continue to offer the very best in pastoral formation, grounded in our rich historical theology while helping our students and graduates to apply what they learn to our challenging 21st century realities. They also offer resources to laity and clergy, and graduate studies. These resources and graduate courses are available to Lutherans worldwide, as well as to other Christians. “Lutheran leaven!” Dr. Rast called it. In these challenges, we have been given great opportunity.

A number of the District Presidents came up to Dr. Rast afterwards to tell him and Dr. Meyer how much they appreciate their clear understanding of the issues—both the challenges and the opportunities—and to thank them for their leadership as they serve as a model for working together for the good of the Church.

Rural & Small Town Mission Conference

Last week, CTSFW had three representatives at the LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission Conference: Dr. Don Wiley (Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions), Sem I Chase Lefort, and Sem II Dan Golden (who you may recognize as one of our recent student interviewees). One of our guest professors, Dr. Robert H. Bennett, also served as a plenary speaker.

From left to right: Dr. Wiley, Mr. Nathanael Poppe (principal of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School in Concordia, MO), Dan Golden, and Chase Lefort.

The conference began with a four-day series of lectures and sessions before the three men (Dr. Wiley, Chase, and Dan) spent the next couple of days on a “Rural Immersion,” touring country churches, schools, farms, and rural life. The tour gave them a feel for the wide and unique variety of the people and communities that make up rural and small-town settings, helping them to understand the perspective of family farmers and ranchers, and teaching practical strategies and resources for ministry in these locations.

One of the many churches they visited. Their rural immersion tour took them to churches, schools, farms, and dairies.

To learn more about the LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission, check out www.facebook.com/LCMSRSTM.

Gothenburg Site: Pless

Dr. Pless (in the blue and black sweater) and his class.

Prof. John T. Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, is in Gothenburg, Sweden, this week, teaching a course on “Baptism and Catechesis” at the Lutheran School of Theology. A few years ago, CTSFW partnered with the Gothenburg school in order to offer the Master of Sacred Theology degree to our brothers in Christ at this European site, and a number of our faculty take frequent trips to teach intensives during the program. The pastors in Dr. Pless’s class represent many countries; he has students from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Latvia, Romania, and Moldova.

Församlingsfakulteten and the chapel. The words on the altar are Swedish, and come from Matthew 7:7: ““Ask, and it will be given to you.”

Sem Guild: Christ Academy

The Seminary Guild meets almost every second Tuesday of each month during the Academic Year. Before they discuss their ongoing or future service projects for the students, they begin each meeting with a presentation by a staff or faculty member. The presentation is often a learning seminar, acting as a thank you for their work and often affording them an inside view of what’s going on at the Seminary, which in turns gives them ideas for how they can possibly assist.

Rev. Matthew Wietfeldt, Director of Admissions and Christ Academy, presented on Christ Academy. Father to five daughters, Rev. Wietfeldt began his presentation by explaining, with a grin, that Christ Academy is his sixth child, “And the only one that’s male–or at least partially male,” he added. “It’s a great joy of mine.”

Christ Academy is a youth vocational discernment program, and a way to begin raising up future generations of pastors and deaconesses even while the Seminary is training the current generation. Christ Academy serves three age levels: confirmation, high school, and college. The high school program is further divided into male and female programs.

A picture from our Christ Academy archives, back in 2000. If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, that’s a very young Dr. Benjamin Mayes in the middle when he was still just a seminarian at CTSFW rather than our Assistant Professor of Historical Theology.

Founded in 1999 by the Admission Department, the program began as just the high school academy for young men (go to the photos from that year and you’ll find our very own Dr. Benjamin Mayes standing among the students; he served as Student Director and was instrumental to getting the program off the ground). The college program was added in 2006, Phoebe (the high school women’s program) started in 2012 as just a three-day weekend for both mothers and daughters, and in 2015 the Confirmation Retreat (which had already been ongoing through another department) was added to its umbrella. For its 20th year, the program will have two Confirmation Retreats for pastors and their confirmation classes in the Spring and Fall, the two-week summer academy for high school men and women (called, respectively, “Timothy School” and “Phoebe School”), and the college retreat also in the fall.

Though these programs serve different age levels, Christ Academy always works on a three-fold platform, designed around liturgical worship (students join the community in worship in Kramer Chapel), confessional Lutheran catechesis (“We don’t dumb down our teaching,” Rev. Wietfeldt explained. “Our faculty teach them the same way they do seminarians. We raise students up to a level they can reach rather than lowering the bar.”), and fun. Fun is important because getting together as the body of Christ is important; you learn to like each other, to smooth out each other’s rough edges, and how to both lead and be led.

Though they could arguably be called camps (especially the two-week programs for the high schoolers), they are not called that in order to distinguish them as fully structured Seminary experiences. “The point of the academy is that you are diligent in your worship, diligent in your learning, and, yes, diligent in your fun,” Rev. Wietfeldt said. “We don’t play around in worship, worship our work, or force learning into our play.” Though there’s naturally some crossover between the three, they all have their roles, and their own time and place.

Most youth vocational programs of this type see about 20% of their participants eventually become the vocation they were studying (in this case, pastors or deaconesses). Christ Academy is at about 25%. And that doesn’t include those who have gone on to our sister seminary in St. Louis, nor those who become other types of church workers, like teachers, DCEs, music directors, organists, and kantors. If you add those, Rev. Wietfeldt calculated the number at 35-40% of participants. Add on to that the young men and women who are beneficial to their congregation as theologically and liturgically-minded laypeople serving their home churches, and he guesses that it rises to 75 or 80%.

“The Church has a lot to be excited about because we are putting through such qualified individuals,” Rev. Wietfeldt said. As to the Seminary Guild: “The biggest thing you can do is pray. Pray, pray, pray. Pray for these young men and women. ‘The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.'”

Rev. Matthew Wietfeldt explaining Christ Academy to the women of the Seminary Guild.

To learn more about the Seminary Guild, go to www.ctsfw.edu/SemGuild.