LCMSU Conference at CTSFW

The best part of this sign is that it largely worked. About 300 college students and their campus pastors are with us this afternoon and evening for day three of the LCMS U conference, many of whom actually sat in the first 15 rows of seats in Sihler Auditorium rather than the back 20 as we welcomed them onto campus. Most of the conference is taking place at Purdue University Fort Wayne down the road, but we had them on the 4th until 10:30 p.m., when the day concluded with Compline in Kramer Chapel.

The LCMS U Conference took place in Fort Wayne from January 2-5, though we only had them on campus for the afternoon and evening of the 4th. If you were watching the Evening Prayer service with us on Friday (or we able to join us on campus), the many young people filling in the pews were these attendees.

The following pictures will take you through a quick summary and timeline of some of the events of the afternoon. The students had three sectionals throughout Wyneken and Loehe Halls that day, with a choice between 17 professors, instructors, pastors, and deaconesses lecturing on 18 different topics.

Rev. Matt Wietfeldt, Admission Director and Director of the Christ Academies, welcomed the attendees to CTSFW after lunch in the Katherine Luther Dining Hall.
As Dr. Rast was unable to be here, he recorded his greeting to the Church’s future servants, ministers, deaconesses, lay leaders, and congregation members ahead of time in anticipation of their arrival. One of the best (or at least most entertaining) lines had to be as he was describing Rev. Marcus Zill, Director of Campus Ministry & LCMS U, who came through CTSFW over 22 years ago: “Yes,” Dr. Rast assured the students, “he really is that old.” Dr. Rast and Rev. Zill, as you may or may not be able to tell, are very good friends.
Rev. Zill responded with a shake of his head and then a grin. Since his seminary days he’s wanted to work with college students. “It was always a dream of mine, to become a campus pastor,” he said. “Now I’m a bureaucrat.”
After the laughter died down he added, “Even though I’m not serving in that capacity anymore, I’m still supporting it.” The focus of this year’s LCMS U conference was “Witness,” particularly in a college context.
Over 300 students and campus ministry pastors and leaders were present in Sihler Auditorium. Despite the successful attempts to encourage the attendees to sit in the front, the usual line of Lutherans who trickle in late still managed to gather in the back.

Dr. Arthur Just, who serves as both Director of Spanish Language Church Worker Formation here at CTSFW and part-time missionary to Spain, had a chance to speak to the attendees about mission opportunities before they were dismissed to their sectional classes.
The opportunities he spoke of in particular were for business and office roles, which need neither theological nor language training. The Church has need of all her members, serving with all the talents and the interests given to her young people.
Dr. Gary Zieroth, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions (as well as Dean of Students), taught the sectional on “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” It’s hard to tell from the picture, but there was a double line of chairs crammed in along the side walls, borrowed from the classroom next door as the room quickly filled to capacity.
Rev. Peter Burfeind, in the larger lecture space down the hall, was teaching a course called, “Are You on the Right Side of History?” I stayed just long enough to hear this rather striking line: “The human soul cannot tolerate a vacuum.”
Other courses throughout the afternoon tackled such subjects as the problem of evil and suffering, morality and ethics (good works), spiritual warfare, celibacy, apologetics, international witness, dating and witnessing, and courses like “Gossip Girls (and Boys): The Death of Witness,” “Male and Female in the World of Caitlyn Jenner,” and “The Small Catechism as an Evangelism Tool.”
The evening also featured the service of Evening Prayer with Christmas Lesson and Carols. Associate Kantor Matthew Machemer served as organist, directed the special music, and sang tenor, which is why the choir was standing so close to the organ for their pieces.

Not caught on camera: the attendees were released from the sectionals at 8 p.m. for pizza, after which they split their time between a bonfire, games in the Student Commons, and basketball and volleyball in the gym. Our visitors left campus at 10:30 p.m., after closing out the day in prayer.