Today and tomorrow’s commemorations go hand in hand: Monica, Faithful Mother (August 27th), and her son, Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church (August 28th).
Born in North Africa in 354 A.D., St. Augustine is counted among the greatest of the Latin Church fathers, whose works are still taught and quoted among seminarians and theologians today. His books impacted the Church throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and he’s a particular favorite among Lutherans as he is famous for emphasizing salvation through grace alone.
He died in 430 A.D., famous as a prolific theological writer and a great defender of the orthodox faith, but he certainly didn’t begin so. A brilliant teacher of rhetoric early in his career, Augustine converted to Christianity later in his life, after moving to Italy. The story of his life before conversion is well documented in his book “Confessions,” where he admits to fathering an illegitimate son, his behavior a reflection of the moral laxity of the time.
God used two particular people in Augustine’s conversion: Ambrose (Bishop of Milan from 339-397), whose preaching deeply impacted the brilliant Augustine, and his mother. Widowed at a young age, Monica prayed for all of her children’s spiritual welfare, but especially for Augustine, undoubtedly in fear for his stubborn adherence to unbelief. She followed her son from North Africa to Italy, her faithful devotion rewarded when she finally witnessed his conversion to Christianity. She died on her journey back home to Africa, in Ostia, Italy.
Augustine served as Bishop of Hippo, North Africa, beginning in 395 A.D. until his death. He dealt with Pelagianism during his life (the heresy that denies original sin, arguing that man can choose good or evil without divine aid; essentially, that a man can will himself into living perfectly, denying both the depth of sin as well as the depth of God’s grace, as won for us on the cross through Jesus Christ). From a translation of “The Confessions of Saint Augustine”:
“Although I published [my “Confessions”] long before the Pelagian heresy had even begun to be, it is plain that in them I said to my God, again and again, ‘Give what thou commandest and command what thou wilt.’ When these words of mine were repeated in Pelagius’ presence at Rome by a certain brother of mine (an episcopal colleague), he could not bear them and contradicted him so excitedly that they nearly came to a quarrel. Now what, indeed, does God command, first and foremost, except that we believe in him? This faith, therefore, he himself gives; so that it is well said to him, “Give what thou commandest.” Moreover, in those same books, concerning my account of my conversion when God turned me to that faith which I was laying waste with a very wretched and wild verbal assault, do you not remember how the narration shows that I was given as a gift to the faithful and daily tears of my mother, who had been promised that I should not perish? I certainly declared there that God by his grace turns men’s wills to the true faith when they are not only averse to it, but actually adverse.”
You can read the full book (as translated by Albert C. Outler, PhD; Professor of Theology at the Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas Texas) at www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/hum100/augustinconf.pdf. I can’t speak for the translation (this is just what I found by googling “augustine ‘confessions’ pdf”), so if anyone knows of other preferred translations, feel free to chime in the comments.
The 67th Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) came to a close in Tampa, Florida, on July 25, 2019, but not before the committees and representatives from congregations across Synod made an impact on both Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), and our sister seminary, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (CSL). This year, CSL joined CTSFW to create a joint booth in the convention hall, demonstrating the collegiality between the seminaries and reflecting the reality that, though we are two distinct institutions, sharpening each other as iron sharpens iron, we exist for the same Church and mission: that the Lord of the harvest may send more laborers into His harvest.
A number of resolutions passed at the 2019 LCMS Convention in regards to the seminaries and pastoral formation. Of specific note are:
6-01 To Support and Participate in the Comprehensive Church Worker Recruitment Initiative
A collaborative effort between Synod, seminaries, Concordia Universities, and district presidents to encourage all to identify and foster future workers for the Church.
6-02 To Promote Residential Seminary Education as the Preferred Option for the Preparation of Men for Pastoral Ministry
Besides recognizing residential seminary education as the preferred path for pastoral formation, the resolution commended the recommendations of the 13-03 Task Force to the Pastoral Formation Committee (PFC) for evaluation and appropriate follow up.
6-03A To Enhance the Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) Program
This directs the PFC to enhance the curriculum and standards of the SMP Program, review the program for optimal timing for vicarage and ordination, and report to the joint seminary boards of regents in 2020, who will then prepare an overture to Synod regarding timing. In addition, the Council of Presidents will draft guidelines and training to enhance the mentoring and supervision of SMP pastors in coordination with the PFC. Finally, all districts are encouraged to provide funding for SMP students as needed.
6-04 To Support, Encourage, and Expect Continuing Education for all LCMS Pastors
That the PFC, in addition to providing this encouragement, should consider the establishment of a method to certify post-seminary continuing education programs and resources, and that these recommendations be reported to the 2022 Synod Convention.
The convention also passed Resolution 6-06, “To Give God Praise and Glory for Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne’s 175th Anniversary,” calling for the Synod to recognize and celebrate our 175th academic year, coming up in September 2020. The resolution recognized that CTSFW “was specifically founded to address two needs: a clear Lutheran confession coupled with a vigorous missionary effort,” that we are a “vibrant, Christ-centered theological community that engages and resources the church and world, domestically and internationally, with distinctively Lutheran teaching, practice, and worship,” and that we have continued to grow and thrive, “privileged to provide the church with nearly 10,000 pastors and missionaries who have served the Lord of the Church throughout the United States and world.”
The resolution also commended the seminary for the 100% tuition grant provided through the gifts God granted through His people, resolving that “the people of the church be commended for their support and encouraged to continue partnering with Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne in its mission to form servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all.” The adoption of the resolution concluded with the delegates rising and singing the common doxology. You can read the full overture HERE.
“The Synod loves its seminaries, and we are blessed to have two robust, healthy, and sound seminaries,” the Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr., President of CTSFW, said in response to the passing of the resolution. “We have established the 100% tuition guarantee for our residential students because of your generosity. And while we continue to need your financial support and your help in raising up students, the future is exceptionally bright.
“And that’s truly what this resolution is about—the future. As difficult as it is for me as an historian to admit it, anniversaries are really about the future. For while they recognize what God has done, they are actually about what God will do.
“And what God will do is be faithful to His beloved children. He will strengthen and preserve them, for the Gospel promise is clear: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and He has promised to be with us always, to the very end of the age.”
Finally, the body elected two new board members along with the re-election of two incumbents. The Board members elected at convention are (with select quotes from their election bios):
Elected: The Rev. Dr. Korey D. Maas Associate Professor of History, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI
“Greatly appreciating the church’s continual need for servants deeply grounded in Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, and who are especially ‘apt to teach’ and to ‘contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,’ I would happily and humbly serve in support of the seminary’s mission to form such servants of Christ and His Church.”
Elected: Dr. Mark W. Meehl Professor of Theology, Faculty Marshal, Concordia University Nebraska (CUNE)
“CTS in Fort Wayne has faithfully educated many of my pre-seminary and pre-deaconess students for parish ministry and other service in the church. I look forward, if this church body agrees, to serving as a CTS Fort Wayne regent, bringing to bear experiences in churches throughout the US, Nigeria, and Jerusalem…and my nearly three decades of teaching undergraduate students at CUNE for the good of CTS Fort Wayne and the church at large.”
Re-elected: The Rev. William M. Cwirla Senior Pastor, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Hacienda Heights, CA
“The stewardship of our two seminaries is among the most important tasks of the Synod as it supports the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world…CTSFW [is] a leading center of orthodox doctrine and evangelical pastoral practice.”
Re-elected: Mr. David L. Daniels Business Owner, Daniels Woodcarving Co., Inc., Taylorsville, NC
“Over the years, I have seen firsthand and benefited from the seminary’s mission put into action—servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all. I have had both a son and a daughter-in-law graduate from CTSFW. And I have received the gifts of God weekly from my pastors who were also students at CTSFW…As our culture becomes increasingly hostile to the Christian faith, it is important that our seminaries are well supported to continue their crucial work.”
To learn more about the convention, visit lcms.org/convention. This site contains video archives, online reports by the Reporter, along with more specific details, such as the Convention Workbook and all resolutions, minutes, and elections. You can read more about all the resolutions passed related to pastoral formation by going to lcms.org/conventions/resolutions and selecting the drop-down menu for #06 — Pastoral Ministry and Seminaries.
Tomorrow is the feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle. Also known as Nathanael in the Book of John, this disciple is mentioned more often as a part of the whole group rather than individually. Tradition claims that he was skinned alive, and thus the main symbol associated with him is a flaying knife. The Scripture readings for his feast day speak of the healing of bones and flesh, of affliction but not despair, of Christ who fulfills His promises from now unto eternity.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
For those of you missing our chapel services while we’re off for the rest of the summer, we have several resources for watching at least the chapel sermons. One of our librarians has recently been uploading many older sermons, which you can find by going to media.ctsfw.edu and looking under “Newest Titles.” You’ll notice a number of them going back to 1999.
Another option is to go to video.ctsfw.edu, our newer media resource cite. Here’s a great place to search through our sermons. You can search for specific preachers, faculty members, or even sermons on specific readings if you’re looking for more on a specific Scripture passage. You can jump to our full archive of chapel sermons at video.ctsfw.edu/category/Chapel+Sermons, or you can check out the options we have by looking at the top navigation bar on the video site.
One more resource we’re highlighting today is the Media Server Scripture index. This is a resource mediated by our Library, created to walk you through how to find items on a Bible passage (including more than just sermons–opening up all of our resources to the search). This guide will walk you through how to use the index:
In remembrance of today’s commemoration of Samuel, here is a hymn and a handful of chapters from the first book of Samuel. One of the words that sticks out in chapter 7 (copied and pasted below) is “Ebenezer,” which immediately brought to mind the hymn we’ve shared here: LSB 686 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Verse 2 begins with “Here I raise my Ebenezer, Hither by Thy help I’ve come;” which is a reference to the stone of remembrance that Samuel raised to God’s glory. He called the stone Ebenezer, meaning: “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”
1 SAMUEL 1
There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”
The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
And he worshiped the Lord there.
1 SAMUEL 3
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.
Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”
And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
1 SAMUEL 7:3-17
And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.
Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah. Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.
Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
LUKE 1:26-38; 46-55
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her…
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
A couple of weeks ago, we published a number of Facebook posts on the joint booth we ran together with CSL for the Synod Convention in Tampa. The collegiality continued with a joint Board of Regents meeting that took place at the end of last week. BOR chairmen from both CTSFW and CSL met here on our campus. You can read more about our joint efforts here:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CTSFW)—The Rev. Dr. Ron Garwood and the Rev. Todd Peperkorn, chairmen of the Boards of Regents of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (CSL), respectively, celebrated the conclusion of a productive joint meeting of the seminary boards, held August 8–9 in Fort Wayne. They spoke highly of both schools and seminary presidents, the Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. of CTSFW and the Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer of CSL.
“I want to commend Dr. Dale Meyer and Dr. Lawrence Rast for their leadership, which has helped the two seminaries work together even more closely over the last triennium,” said Chairman Garwood. “The seminaries collaborated to host a joint reception and a joint welcome booth at the Synod Convention this summer. Our faculties and boards, through ongoing dialogue, jointly submitted a number of overtures this year as well, and we look forward to continuing close cooperation as our seminaries work to prepare faithful and loving pastors for our Synod.”
“As an alum of CTSFW while serving on the CSL board,” continued Chairman Peperkorn, “it is a particular joy for me to be on campus in Fort Wayne, seeing my new friends and colleagues working so closely with the school that formed me as a pastor. We have an almost unprecedented opportunity to shape the Church of the future with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hear in Proverbs that ‘Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another’ (Prov. 27:17). It is my prayer that our work together will continue to strengthen both schools, and that more men will be formed as pastors in the years to come.”
Among the actions approved, the joint boards agreed to establish a formal process for the leadership of each board to meet regularly, in addition to the bylaw-established annual joint meeting of the full board. This leadership group will help increase dialogue and coordination between the seminaries, and will assist in setting the agenda for the annual joint board meeting.
During the joint board meeting, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Chief Mission Officer, the Rev. Kevin Robson, presented to the boards on matters before the Pastoral Formation Committee, including the comprehensive church worker recruitment initiative being planned by the Synod, seminaries, Concordia University System, and districts. The boards also engaged on cultural changes facing the Church and how they are affecting the work of the seminaries. Additional reports included a presentation by President Rast on “Sustainable Futures: Recognizing and Confronting the Challenges Facing Christian Colleges and Universities” while the Mid-South District President, the Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola, spoke on “The 10 Tsunamis Impacting Ministries: How Do we Survive What’s Coming?”
Together, Presidents Rast and Meyer presented on the state of the seminaries. They completed their presentation with frank truth and in the hope we have in Christ: “The challenges facing our seminaries and our Church are many, but our Lord is faithful and He will see us through these current and future challenges just as He has in the past.”
Early in July, Professor John Pless gave a lecture on Law and Gospel in Confession and Absolution at the 8th International Luther Symposium at our sister seminary, Seminário Concórdia in São Leopoldo, Brazil. The seminary train ministers in one of our partner churches in Latin America, the Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil, or Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil. Prof. Pless taught a course on “The Catechism: A Field Manual for Discipleship.” Two of his books, translated into Portuguese, were also featured at the symposium: “Manejando Bem a Palavra da Verdade” and “Palavra: Deus fala conosco” (“Handling the Word of the Truth” and “Word: God Speaks to Us”).
Like many of our faculty, Professor Pless has a full travel schedule, especially in the summer months. He attended this symposium in Brazil, returned in time to travel south to Tampa, Florida, for Synod Convention (where he also signed copies of his books—though in English this time—at the CPH booth close by the Seminary booth), and left from there to go to South Africa.
Prof. Pless spoke highly of the seminary in São Leopoldo (which is part of one of our partner churches in Latin America, ), from the depth of its theological education to the warm community of faculty and students. As always, we thank God for the partnerships we have with our sister seminaries across the world, and for our brothers and sisters from all nations.
Photos courtesy Filipe Schuambach Lopes of Concordia Seminary of São Leopoldo.