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.