One of the highlights of our campus (which you may have recently seen in a Facebook live tour led by Director of Admission Rev. Matt Wietfeldt) is the architecture, designed by Eero Saarinen, who is famous for the St. Louis arch. We had a follow-up question from one of our viewers, asking with Saarinen was a Christian. Our resident Saarinen expert, Prof. Robert Roethemeyer, Director of our Library, had this to say:
Yes, the evidence suggests that he was a Christian, even a Lutheran in confession. His father’s father was a Lutheran pastor in Finland. His father was a Finnish-American architect whose last project was First Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
Our chapel is one of five Saarinen-designed sacred buildings.
Eliel Saarinen (Eero’s father) designed two churches:
First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana (1942)
Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1949)
Eero Saarinen designed two chapels and one church:
Chapel at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1955)
Chapel at Concordia Senior College, now CTSFW (1958)
North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana (1964)
The two chapels are notable for their simplicity of design. The chapel at MIT is in the shape of a cylinder, giving us architecturally the circle and theologically eternity. The chapel at CTSFW is architecturally a triangle and theologically symbolizes the Trinity.
Another architectural piece to note on campus are the bricks all throughout the buildings. The lay horizontal through most of the campus, symbolizing our connection with one another in community. In the chapel, they lay vertically, emphasizing God coming to us.
Today is the Commemoration of Friedrich Wyneken. In today’s sermon, Rev. Bob Smith, one of our librarians who specializes in archives and history, referenced the letter from a St. Paul, Fort Wayne, elder, pleading for a pastor, following the death of their own young pastor in 1838. His plea would bring Wyneken to the area.
I write with tears in my eyes and with a trembling hand to inform you that on May 23, at 8 o’clock in the morning, it pleased the almighty Lord of life and death to call into eternity our beloved Pastor, J[esse]. Hoover, at the age of 28. The deceased was bedridden for about 12 days, but had been in failing health for a longer period. Nevertheless, he pursued his calling with tireless zeal, for nothing, even in his illness, was more dear to him than his congregation. I visited him several times. When I visited him the first time in the company of several brothers, he asked me to read, for his personal edification, a chapter from the Bible. We read the 4th chapter of Acts, after which we prayed, and then we departed. When I visited him the next time, his illness had progressed to the point where he could no longer converse. On the morning of his death he did not recognize me. He died a blessed death, completely in the faith.
We buried him, our teacher, with love and thanksgiving, according to German order [Ordnung]. In the church the congregation sang: “After Trial-Shortened Days.” The procession following the casket was greater than had ever been seen in Ft. Wayne – a tribute to the love and esteem in which he was held, even by the enemies of Christianity and the Church. He was a good man. At the grave we sang the hymn: “All Men Living Are But Mortal.” After this I encouraged the congregation to remain unified so we will not be destroyed. The funeral sermon was preached in English by Mr. Baal, a Methodist minister, because no German preacher lived within miles of this area. If an English Pastor had died, it might have been possible for someone else to fulfill that duty. There is no one here among the German immigrants to preach the words of eternal life. For that reason, have pity, honored fathers and brothers and send us a Pastor. Not only the congregation in Ft. Wayne, but also a seemingly strong congregation in Adams County, Indiana mourns the loss of the deceased. If you canvas the northern part of Indiana you will soon see how important it is that you send us a faithful Shepherd. The harvest is great but unfortunately there are no workers. If it is not possible to send us a Pastor, dear brothers, then send us a circuit rider [Reiseprediger]. We hunger and thirst for the Word of God.
We heard that it was resolved at the conference in 1837 to hold the next conference in Ft. Wayne. I hope you do not change your resolve because Pr. Hoover has been called from us. Coming here you would be better able to assess our situation.
Remember us in your prayers, and cause a sigh to ascend the throne of grace in our behalf that the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ Himself might build us up and encourage us in our most holy faith, and comfort us with His help, and may the Holy Spirit sustain us. Greet all the brothers in Christ Jesus. Grace, peace, and blessing to the members of the honorable Synod.
Written by order of the church council at Ft. Wayne,
Next year we’ll begin a number of 175th Seminary Anniversary celebrations, but in the lead-up to the 2020/2021 academic year we’re already beginning to see some significant dates in our history, beginning with:
On this date, September 9, 1845, F.C.D. Wyneken was installed as pastor of St. Paul’s congregation, Baltimore, Maryland.
As one of our Seminary fathers, we’ve talked about Wyneken quite a number of times before. Rev. Wyneken was a pastor and missionary to Indiana, setting his home base here in Fort Wayne, and he also tutored the first two students of Concordia Theological Seminary out of his own home in 1844 (before its first formal classes in October 1846). He was the third founder of the Fort Wayne seminary, as well as the author of “Notruf” (“The Cry of Need” or “Emergency Call”), which was instrumental in moving our Lutheran brethren back in Germany to send spiritual aid to the pioneers in America. Wyneken later served as the second president of the LCMS.
If you want to read more about his history with the Baltimore congregation, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church has a short write-up on their website, which you can read by clicking here. Wyneken plays a key part in the first paragraph of their history.
Back in November, Prof. Robert Roethemeyer (CTSFW Library Director) and Dr. David Scaer (member of the faculty since 1966) were coming back from the Concordia Historical Institute Board of Governors meeting and the organization’s Annual Awards Banquet when they took a detour through Springfield, Illinois—CTSFW’s old stomping grounds. Prof. Roethemeyer took the opportunity to capture a couple of photos of the plaque that was installed there by the Central Illinois District in 2013.
The plaque reads:
Illinois State University –
In 1852, the family of Pascal Enos donated this ground for an institution of higher learning. Rev. Francis Springer, an educator and Springfield’s first Lutheran minister, led efforts to establish Illinois State University, a college preparatory school, here. An impressive four story facility was completed in 1859. The school offered a classic curriculum and theology classes were offered under Prof. Simeon Harkey.
Many citizens of Springfield, including Abraham Lincoln, supported the school with annual subscriptions. Robert Todd Lincoln and John Milton Hay, President Lincoln’s future secretary, were students here.
Numerous problems plagued the school and attendance never exceeded 140 students. In 1869 the trustees closed the school, although several members of the faculty reestablished it in Carthage, Illinois as Carthage College. The properties were sold at sheriff’s auction and Rev. William Passavant utilized the facility as an orphanage for a short time. Eventually the properties were purchased by Trinity Lutheran Church with plans for a Lutheran female college, which never materialized. However, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod viewed the facilities as a solution for overcrowding at its St. Louis Seminary and in 1875, under the leadership of Prof. August Craemer, Concordia Theological Seminary moved into the abandoned building.
The building – renamed Die Kaffeemuehle because it resembled a coffee mill – was razed in 1931. However, other buildings were erected, acreage was added and the Seminary was eminently successful for 100 years. In 1975 the Missouri Synod voted to move the Seminary to Fort Wayne, Indiana. The campus is now used by the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The Central Illinois District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
and the Illinois State Historical Society.
Today was Donation Day, which is a tradition nearly as old as the Seminary itself. Donation Day started as a way to feed the student while they were studying for full-time church work. The CTSFW Seminary Guild cares for our students through Donation Day, taking on additional student projects through donations and their membership dues, as well as using their baking and crafting skills throughout the year for birthdays, snacks during final weeks, and gifts for newly born babies.
Phyllis Thieme, the President of the Guild, opened donation day immediately after chapel with a welcome to the visitors. Eighty-one years ago, in 1938 (the year before the Guild came into being), 1,0008 registrants arrived at the Springfield Campus for Donation Day. “Since the founding of CTS in 1846, the ladies of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod have always supported CTS, the students, and their families,” Mrs. Thieme said. “Let’s fast forward now to today. We may not have 1,008 registrants bringing their donations as they did back in 1938; however, the donations by the Lutheran Women Missionary League represent thousands of women who have given their donation, their support of the students here at CTS. A lot has changed since 1939, but one thing has not: the faithful giving of the many Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod women to help our future pastors and deaconesses and their families.”
Jonah Domenichelli, 4th-year and president of the Student Government Association, introduced the five LWML District Presidents who were able to make it to Donation Day. He and his wife moved to Fort Wayne with three children and now have five; they know the tension between family needs and the rigors of education very well. “Moving here, like most students and families experience, can be very stressful because you’re trying to figure out where the money’s coming from; how are you going to pay for school? How are you going to take care of your family? How are you going to take care of yourself if you’re a student by yourself?” he said. “However, we were reassured that the Lord would provide for us when we moved here. And indeed he has. We have been supported through countless student adoptions and donors like yourselves, and God is faithful. And we appreciate everything He has provided through you.”
The five LWML District Presidents in attendance were Susan Gruber (Michigan District); Barbara Kaun (Wisconsin South District); Janice Gerzevske (Northern Illinois District); Jeanne Schimmelmann (Ohio District); and Marge Gruber (Indiana District). All five brought greetings from their districts and asked that the students from their districts stand, that they might recognize them. After chapel they met with these seminarians and deaconess students in the student commons for coffee, and later each gave a short report during the afternoon meeting on their work with the Food & Clothing Co-op (generally large grants to help fund the Co-op as well as student aid and scholarships).
“This morning is the very best way to start the day,” Mrs. Schimmelmann said in her greetings to the Seminary, “worshiping our Lord in this beautiful chapel with our brothers and sisters in Christ. As it has been said, ‘It doesn’t get better than this.’”
Deaconess Katherine Rittner, Director of the Food & Clothing Co-op, began her speech with another historical comparison between now and then. In 1949, ten years after the Seminary Guild started, donation day visitors donated 221 dozen eggs, 97 chickens, 5,000 quarts of home-canned goods, and $1,500 in cash donations. “But what a difference 70 years makes!” she exclaimed, before reading another set of numbers. Last year, through the support of donors, the Food Co-op provided over 2,000 dozen eggs, 4,000 pounds of Brakebush Chicken (not to mention over 2,500 pounds of cow plus 12,000 pounds of pork), over 36,000 pounds of produce, and $12,225.06 was spent at local grocery stores. “In this ever-changing world, the focus of the Guild remains the same: to care for their students and families,” she said. “As mentioned, the LWML is a large supporter of us; we can’t do this without you.”
She then had all the students stand, starting with those who hadn’t stood yet and finally asking that all students rise to their feet. “This,” she said of the standing students, “this is who you are caring for. From the students, from the faculty, from the staff—as a former student, former student wife, current staff member—from the bottom of my heart I thank you for what it is that you do for our students and their families. Thank you.”
During lunch, as a treat for the ladies Deaconess Rittner had student wives (and at least one student wife who is also a seminary student herself, studying to become a deaconess) and their children held a fashion show. They wore clothes they found at the Co-op. Most of the little girls—when they weren’t feeling shy—were thrilled; the boys less so. You can view photos from the show in the pictures provided here.
Lance Hoffman, Advancement Officer since 2016 and newly appointed Assistant Vice President of Operations, also spoke at the afternoon meeting. He taught at Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne for 26 years before joining CTSFW. The high school is his alma mater; when he graduated from college with a teaching degree and was called back to his old school, his father was a colleague and his little brother was one of his students.
As a former history teacher and now an advancement officer serving the financial needs of CTSFW, Mr. Hoffman’s presentation married both: to effectively raise money for CTSFW, the Advancement Department has to understand both where society came from and where it’s going. “Changes in our society require changes in our strategy,” he explained.
He largely bypassed the first 100 years of CTSFW’s history (“Things are so different before that it’s almost useless to consider strategies,” he explained), and focused on the past 80 years. The post-war era from 1945-1975 was the golden age of the middle class in America. Television began replacing radio and print and everyone answered their phone and read their mail. “We’ll get to today when virtually none of this is true,” Mr. Hoffman said briefly, before returning to the post-war period. Planes and cars had replaced trains as interstate highways and airports sprung up everywhere. Synodical support was high.
Because of this, the Seminary operated on a “big net, small fish” strategy; what we would now call the Annual Fund approach. With a robust middle class (and in conjunction with modest educational costs), it worked well. With many small gifts meeting their needs, little attention was given to major gift cultivation or long term planning. “But if there’s one thing you can be sure of,” Mr. Hoffman said, “is things will always change.
“Both seminaries were blindsided by undergraduate debt. No one predicted that we would have pastoral and diaconal students coming in with $100,000 in debt,” he explained. In the 1960s a part-time job could pay for most education costs. In the 70s, the wealth gap between rich and middle class began to expand while educational costs rose almost incomprehensibly fast. “Minimum wage has not gone up 2,000% like education costs,” he said. “Times have changed and the math doesn’t add up anymore.”
“Big net, small fish” no longer works on its own. The top 10% of the nation holds 67% of the wealth and the bottom 90% the remaining 33%. Nor have communication changes been conducive to philanthropy efforts. Land lines and snail mail are fading. There are a dozen new ways to contact people (email, cell phones, social media) but in a sea of noise, that’s made it harder to be heard. There have been no major changes in transportation from 1976-2019, save for access: with private planes and 24/7 travel, people now live seasonally and the wealthy own multiple homes. National trends have affected the LCMS at all levels, especially in the difficult years in the 80s and 90s. Synod still supports her seminaries, but not in the same way financially. Both seminaries have had to become financially independent.
Many middle class donors still continue to give to their seminaries. They provide millions a year—but today that’s millions short. We have thousands of donors who give generously of their means, but we’d need thousands more to make up the difference.
This is where major gift cultivation—particularly through endowments—come into play. An endowment is a gift that can never be spent. Rather, the gift is invested and CTSFW spends a percentage of the earnings. The great advantage is that these gifts last as long as the Seminary does. Since the post-war era, CTSFW has gone from 0 in endowments to millions. “Not bad for a school our size,” Mr. Hoffman said. But: “Bad for a school our age.” Harvard, for example, has endowments in the billions. The difference is that Harvard, established in 1656, has been cultivating major gifts for hundreds of years. CTSFW didn’t start until 100 years into her history.
Chairs are another type of endowment, set up to pay for a specific professorship, as the earnings from the investment pay for that position’s salary and benefits no matter who holds it. CTSFW has five at this point, all still currently held by their original faculty recipients: Dr. James Bushur in The Carl and Erna Weinrich Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Church Studies chair; Dr. Cameron MacKenzie in The Forrest E. and Frances H. Ellis Professor of German Reformation Studies chair; Prof. Robert Roethemeyer in The Wakefield-Kroemer Director of Library and Information Services chair; Dr. David Scaer in The David P. Scaer Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology chair; and Dr. Roland Ziegler in The Robert D. Preus Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Confessional Lutheran Studies chair. These will be passed on as these men retire and new faculty take their place.
The Advancement strategy, according to Mr. Hoffman, is clear: “Blending the tried and true with the new.” We need both those who give major gifts and those who give according to their more modest means. And that doesn’t yet take into account the generosity that comes to our students in the form of home congregation gifts, student adoptions, and the Co-ops. There’s also the additional projects, like the recent renovations to W8 and L7 (the campus was only 20 years old when CTS first moved onto the grounds but now the infrastructure is 65 years old and starting to show it), the capital campaign for the library expansion project, and, in 2018, the introduction of the 100% tuition grant for full-time residential pastoral and diaconal students.
“You’ll note,” Mr. Hoffman said. “I didn’t say ‘free.’” A seminarian may no longer be responsible for his tuition (though he’s certainly expected—and is required to promise—that he will help by applying for scholarships and aid), but someone’s certainly paying for it: the Body of Christ. The Church cares for her future pastors and deaconesses.
This is important, not only because it meets the modern challenge of the educational debt crisis, but because we need church workers. Enrollment is down at both seminaries, as is church worker enrollment in the Concordia University System. Take into account that 50% of pastors in the LCMS are over the age of 55, and in the next 10 years we’ll lose 3,000 pastors to retirement. (Though perhaps slightly later, Mr. Hoffman conceded: “Pastors are a weird breed,” he said to laughter, “They don’t often retire at normal retirement age.”). Our two seminaries are currently producing only about 100 new pastors a year; or, 1,000 new pastors over the 10 years.
Mr. Hoffman’s solution: “Give us the students. We’ll figure out the money.”
And we remember this too: the need is urgent, but not desperate. With the Lord of all—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—on our side, we can never be desperate. But we can ask ourselves what we can do where He has placed us. Some of us give financially, some of us choose to go into church work, still others serve as the voice that asks her grandson, or his neighbor, or our friend if he has ever thought of becoming a pastor.
“The seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how,” (Mark 4:27). The Lord of the harvest grows His kingdom and commands that we pray to Him for laborers. May we do so cheerfully and boldly, knowing we can trust His promises.
Today, September 17, 2019, we celebrate 100 years and one month of deaconesses in the LCMS:
The roots of the office of deaconess go back to the first two verses of Romans 16, when Paul commends to the saints at Rome “our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae…for she has been a patron of many and of myself.”
Some 1,800 years after Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, Lutheran deaconesses in Germany were bringing aid to widows, orphans, and the sick and disadvantaged in response to the hardships that arose from the industrial revolution. These trained church workers particularly cared for women in distress, serving in girls’ schools, hospitals, homes for the mentally ill, and in training schools for teachers and deaconesses. Today, deaconesses function in much the same roles: as nurses, social workers, and parish assistants to pastors in a congregation.
However, when the LCMS came into being in Chicago in 1847, though the new Synod was well aware of the work of deaconesses from reports back in Germany, they were wary of doctrinal issues and cautious about beginning a training program on new soil. Some had accused (not always wrongly) deaconesses of being a copy of the Roman Catholic nuns, while others feared that training female diaconate would bring unbiblical ideas and practices into the Church.
For decades, the LCMS essentially left the issue alone. Each congregation cared for the needs of their own flocks, though as populations and need grew they began banding together into welfare societies and institutes that served wider geographic areas. In 1904, the Associated Lutheran Charities brought together every synodical agency involved in charity work and convened for their first convention. By 1908, a couple of pastors in the association noted that other Christian denominations used trained deaconesses to great advantage, and began the conversation of how to secure trained deaconesses for the Lutheran church. The suggested answer: “Why not begin the training of deaconesses for our work?”
Synod was not immediately enthusiastic. Though they recognized the gifts and talents of women in mercy work, officially recognizing a female diaconate and training deaconesses for service remained controversial because of the history of doctrinal issues associated with the role. In 1911, Rev. Herzberger, the first urban missionary installed in Missouri (and one of the pastors in the 1908 conversation), addressed Synod at Convention, hoping for their blessing on the creation of a Deaconess Home. He said (in part):
“We emphasize that this be a Lutheran Deaconess home. The representatives and supporters of this Lutheran Deaconess Home do not want it to be from the unbiblical Deaconess existence such as found in the days among the “schwaermer” schismatic and pseudo Lutherans who would have nothing more than a Protestant nunnery…
“What motivated the representatives of this conference to plan such a Deaconess Home is not because of business or to look for something new, but because of a crying need of the many places that desire such Deaconess ministry. Our Lutheran hospitals and boarding schools especially desire them. How greatly feminine care makes itself felt. Often it is difficult to obtain such a woman leader (head nurse) or Director in our Institutions.”
Synod didn’t reject the idea of the home, but neither did they give it their blessing. The committee that responded to the matter recommended that Synod not take the existence of the Deaconess matter into their own hands though a synodical committee should oversee and safeguard any such program from “getting out of hand.” The committee also requested “that Synod promise this establishment in the Lutheran—that is Biblical spirit—from the beginning and while in operation. Since Deaconesses, especially in our times, would find a blessed circle of activities in the hospital, in city missions as care givers for the sick and the poor in our congregations, in our mission to the heathen, being recognized as care givers they could bear witness to the Gospel in the course of their service of mercy.”
Four months later, Rev. Herzberger expounded on the scriptural and historical basis of a confessional Lutheran diaconate. Only notes from the presentation, written down by a pastor in attendance (the Rev. Herman Bernard Kohlmeier), remain. Seven alphabetized points summarized Rev. Herzberger’s main arguments, three of which were:
A. There is only one divinely instituted office, the holy ministry. All other offices are auxiliary offices, and may be established, changed, abrogated by the church as she deems best for her welfare.
B. The office of the female diaconate is such an office. It flourished in the early Christian church, lost its character, however, and disappeared under popery, and has been re-established in some parts of Christendom in our time.
E. It is not implied that deaconesses are a special spiritual order in the church, nor serving in the ministry. Scripture bars women from the office of the ministry but they can exercise the right and obligations of the priesthood of believers. Therefore deaconesses give instruction, admonition, comfort of Scriptures as the situation requires.
The presentation kept the discussion alive in Lutheran circles for the next eight years, while Rev. Herzberger (and others with the Associated Lutheran Charities) wrote letters to the presidents of districts and Synods affiliated with the Synodical Conference. These men began to express their support for a deaconess training school. In 1918/19, Rev. Herzberger wrote a tract on “Woman’s Work in the Church,” expanding on these points:
“So we learn direct from Scripture [earlier in the tract he referenced Romans 16:1 and 2 as well as the saintly widows in 1 Tim. 5:9 and 10] that it was customary for the congregations in times of the Apostles to employ women workers! They were servants of the particular congregation in which they labored and were under the jurisdiction of the local congregation and assistants of the pastor or bishop. It is of the highest importance to remember that fact that the female diaconate is an auxiliary office of the Holy Ministry…there is but ONE divinely created office in the Church viz. the office of the Holy Ministry. The pastor is exclusively THE teacher, THE shepherd and overseer of his congregation and will have to give an account to God for his stewardship. (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:1-3; Hebrews 13:17). Because of that fact all other offices in the Church are but human ordinances. They can and ought to be created as exigency and the welfare of the local congregations demands. But they must all have their root in the divinely appointed Ministry and stand in vital relation to it…
“The Apostle Peter tells us emphatically, I Peter 3:7: “that Christian women are heirs together with the men of the grace of life” and hence, they belong to that “chosen generation and royal priesthood” of which he speaks in his second chapter, “who are to show forth the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.” On account of their SPIRITUAL PRIESTHOOD women have the same call to labor in the Church of Christ that Christian men have. There is but one limitation—imposed by the Lord of the harvest Himself—they are not to preach the Gospel in public worship [I Cor. 14:34-35 and I Timothy 2:11-14)…
“Our sorrow grows greater when we think of the many opportunities we miss for winning souls for Christ because of our NEGLECT in training and supporting gifted and pious women in our midst for missionary and charitable work. The World War may be over, but the sad conditions it has created in all ranks of society are not over! If ever the Church of Christ was called upon to bend every effort for the saving and uplifting of redeemed souls that time is NOW!”
Diaconal service grows from the mercy so richly poured out on undeserving sinners. “Mercy is central to who God is, as evidenced in the Father’s compassionate giving of His Son, in Christ’s bearing of our sins, and His sacrificial work on the cross for us, and in the faith-creating and sustaining work of the Spirit,” Associate Director of the Deaconess Formation Programs at CTSFW, Deaconess Amy Rast, would write nearly a hundred years later. “Mercy is a way of life for God’s people, as they respond to His mercy in faith toward Him and in love toward one another. Therefore, mercy is central to the life of a deaconess as she attends to physical needs, shares God’s Word, teaches the faith, encourages believers in the Christian life, consoles the suffering, confronts the sinning, and tells the Good News of salvation. CTSFW Deaconesses teach, reach, and care—and that is a life of mercy.”
Years of writing letters, giving presentations, and persistently teaching the Biblical basis of the role of women in the Church and their work as members of the royal priesthood met with success. One hundred years and one month ago, on August 17, 1919, the Lutheran Deaconess Association was formed at a meeting held at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne. Diaconal training in the LCMS had begun.
Today’s history lessons was summarized with quotes ransacked (save for the quote from Deaconess Rast) from the first chapter of “In the Footsteps of Phoebe” by Cheryl D. Naumann (CPH, 2009).
In a booklet for the 35th year of the Concordia Seminary Guild, 1974-1975, there is a note that reads:
“Concordia Seminary Guild was organized in February 1939 for the purpose of promoting the annual Donation Day and to further any other projects to materially aid the Seminary that the Synod could not provide.”
Meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month from October to May, excluding January, in Selcke Lounge.
The meetings are now held the second Tuesday of each month from September to April (still excluding January), but in Luther Hall at the Fort Wayne campus where the ladies begin with a devotion and a keynote presentation from a staff or faculty member before getting down to business. This month’s business is the same one for which they were formed: Donation Day.
This year’s Donation Day is coming up on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, the 80th year of the Seminary Guild’s existence. Donation Day precedes the formation of the Seminary Guild by many years, but is directly responsible for it. As food and board costs rose for seminarians in the 1930s, the 1938 Donations Day Committee chairman, Mrs. Baepler, floated the idea of forming a new society to meet these needs. They held the first meeting of the Seminary Guild less than four months later, on February 1, 1939. Seventy-five women attended.
In the Guild’s 10th anniversary year, the Donations Day Committee reported record-breaking donations: 5,000 quarts of home-canned goods; 221 dozen eggs; 97 chickens; 57 pounds of lard; 50 pumpkins and squash; 106 bushels of potatoes; and cash donations totaling $1,500.
By the Guild’s 25th year of existence, the stereotypical seminarian had changed from young, single men (not allowed to date nor become engaged until after graduation) to second-career students, many married with children. Plans for a Student Adoption Program began. The Seminary Guild opened the first food and clothing banks for the students.
Their efforts thrived: last year, the CTSFW Food & Clothing Co-op fed 435 students and their family members, boasting even greater numbers of donations given over the 2018-2019 academic year through their generous supporters: 36,296 pounds of fresh produce; 626 pounds of hamburger (plus two and a half butchered cows, yielding an additional 2,159 pounds); 12,398 pounds of pork; 4,000 pounds of Brakebush Brothers Chicken; 6,000 pounds of food from the local food pantry; 500 dozen local farm eggs; 2,741 gallons and 878 pints of milk; and $12,225.06 spent at local grocery stores.
Through the support of local and national donors, many of them backed, encouraged, and promoted by our LWML sisters, the Seminary Guild and the entire wider community of the Church continues to feed, clothe, and care for her students.
All are welcome to join us in this endeavor. To learn more about the items that are in particular need at this time, to view the schedule for Donation Day on October 8, or to register for the annual gathering, CLICK HERE. You can also register by emailing [email protected] and paying the $15 fee (which includes lunch) when you come to campus for the day. RSVPs are due in two weeks, on September 27.
If distance prevents your presence, join us in prayer, in support, or as an associate member of the Guild. You can learn more about their work at www.ctsfw.edu/SemGuild.
The historical information referenced in this article was discovered in the archives of the Seminary Guild, from the article “Through the Years…Guild helps students through thick and thin,” by Dorothy Klug. You can read the original article by clicking on the title. Written in 1992 and republished for use in a fundraising project in 1995, a year before the Seminary’s 150th anniversary, today’s article is written a year before the Seminary’s 175th anniversary. “We strive,” wrote Seminary Guild member Bonnie Hazen in September 1995, “to assist the seminary with the training of men for the holy ministry.”
The 2019/2020 academic year marks the 174th year of our existence, but it owns another significant milestone: it is the 80th anniversary year of the Seminary Guild. Yesterday was the first monthly meeting of the academic year for the women who work so tirelessly to support our students. Formed in 1939 in response to rising food and board costs, their support has been ongoing for 80 years.
Rev. Jim Fundum, admission counselor at CTSFW and spiritual advisor to the Guild, opened the meeting with a devotion, using Scripture passages that reference 80 years. Moses came up (he was 80 when God called to him from the burning bush) as did Barzillai from 2 Samuel 19 (verse 32, “Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old,” began the reading, but Rev. Fundum had to stop at this point in the verse as the Seminary Guild women in their 80s had a good laugh over the description). He finished with Psalm 90:10: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”
But Psalm 90 does not end there. Verse 12: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” and at the last, in verse 17: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”
“That’s why you’re here, serving the Guild,” Rev. Fundum said. “He establishes the work of the Seminary Guild’s hands.”
Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr., President of CTSFW, served as yesterday’s keynote speaker. A historian first and foremost, Dr. Rast spoke of the Guild in the context of church history, particularly that of the Lutherans in America, focusing around the three major “disruptions” that rocked the Synod’s history. These are times when all seems to be in flux. “We as a church body, as a seminary, as congregations, find ourselves in situations that are unique,” Dr. Rast explained. “We experience things we have never experienced before, that threaten to derail our work.”
These disruptions are a reality of the fact that we are a member of the church militant. “’Their span is but toil and trouble,’” Dr. Rast quoted, calling back to Psalm 90.
Yet through those disruptions, through the toil and trouble, next academic year CTSFW will celebrate 175 years of existence, grown from a class of 11 students in October of 1846. The following year, our entire church body will celebrate another 175th anniversary: that of the LCMS. “That really is something,” Dr. Rast said. “One hundred and seventy-five years. God continues to bless us.”
Lutheranism in North America officially set foot on the continent 400 years ago this month. A few days into September of 1619, Lutheran Danes attempting to find a route to China got stuck in Hudson Bay. Realizing that winter would soon set in, on September 7 they decided to make camp at what is now Churchill, Manitoba; an area famous (though unknown to the 66 sailors onboard their ship at the time) for polar bears. Their Lutheran pastor, Rasmus Jensen, held the first Lutheran services on the continent. Of the 66, three men survived the winter (Rev. Jensen not among them), most dead of scurvy or lead poisoning. The survivors returned to Denmark.
Nearly 250 years later, the LCMS formed on April 26, 1847, in Chicago. At the time, there were dozens of Lutheran synods. So why begin another?
When the LCMS started in 1847 as Die Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio und andern Staaten, the “Deutsche” (“German”) was inclusive, not exclusive. Germany didn’t exist and wouldn’t until 1871. German speakers hailed from across Europe, from many smaller states and regions that fall under entirely different countries now. The first-generation of Dr. Rast’s family in America spoke German and are listed in the US census as either Prussians or Russians. Though that particular geographic area is now in the middle of Poland, the family remains emphatic: “NEVER Poland,” Dr. Rast insisted, laughing.
In 1847, including all German speakers was an important part of the church’s outreach strategy. Into the early part of the 20th century, Lutherans were the most ethnically diverse denomination in America. It wasn’t just the Saxon church or the Prussian church; it was the church for all German speakers. The language was central to the Lutheran church’s identity.
However, by 1917, that became a liability: WWI had begun. The “German” in “German Lutheran” was suddenly dangerous. For example, Dr. Rast’s vicarage church, Immanuel Lutheran in Terre Haute, Indiana, originally had a school. But in 1918, the school was forcibly closed when the town grabbed the school’s only teacher and threatened to tar and feather him for, as they claimed, “Teaching the children to be German spies.” He escaped tarring and feathering, but was driven from town. Immanuel Lutheran hasn’t had a school since. In Nebraska, new state laws demanded that the German Lutherans stop teaching in German. The Lutheran church fought the law on legal grounds, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court. They won. “And then stopped using German a couple of years later,” Dr. Rast finished with a laugh.
Dr. Rast asked the women of the Seminary Guild to imagine how the transition, pressed on them by outside forces out of their control, must have felt to the founders and first generation. Their children were bilingual, many of whom favored English over their parent’s native tongue, but for that first generation of immigrants, German was their heart language.
By 1938, the LCMS had officially stopped using German as the Synod’s official language. “It was almost a non-event,” Dr. Rast said. In 1917, Die Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio und andern Staaten dropped “Deutsche” from their name and thought that would be enough. It was not. In 1921, they officially adopted the English translation: “The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States.” Seventeen years later, at the 1938 Synod Convention in St. Louis, a delegate got up and suggested they no longer keep minutes in German.
Another delegate seconded, and that was it. “In 20 years,” Dr. Rast pointed out, “they went from a German Church to an American Church.”
The Seminary Guild came into existence in 1939, less than a year after Synod officially dropped German from their minutes and during CTSFW’s Springfield days. The Fort Wayne Seminary had already moved twice at that point, first to St. Louis in 1861 to study alongside their sister seminary (reputedly to keep their students from being drafted into the union army, “But I suspect that was just a smokescreen,” Dr. Rast added as an aside. “The frugal Germans wanted to save money. Two seminaries, one faculty.”), then to Springfield in 1875. Between the two seminaries they had run out of room and Concordia Theological Seminary decided to move to Milwaukee.
It was a practical choice: the area was filled with Lutherans and Lutheran churches, which offered plenty of fieldwork opportunities for their students. However, at almost the last moment they received an unbelievable deal in Springfield instead. The city had only one Lutheran church, but the campus and grounds were basically given to Synod. The frugal Germans were pleased. They taught seminarians in Springfield for 100 years, until Concordia Theological Seminary moved back to Fort Wayne in 1976.
The year that the Seminary Guild formed in 1939, the Wizard of Oz had premiered in Hollywood (asbestos served as the snow in the poppy field scene), the Girls Scouts sold Thin Mints for the first time (then known as Cooky Mints), and on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland; Britain and France would declare war a couple of days later. The longest-serving president of the Synod had recently begun his first term in 1935 (he would remain in office until 1962), just as WWII would bring a second wave of anti-German sentiment to America.
Known as one-eyed Jack (an accident with a baseball had robbed him of an eye when he was a child), the Rev. Dr. John Behnken was the first truly bilingual president. He was American-born and preferred English. Dr. Rast’s connection with Dr. Behnken is even more personal: One-eyed Jack (then serving as a District President) introduced his grandfather to his grandmother. Dr. Behnken asked two sisters to sing a duet at the young Rev. Rast’s ordination service, then gave this sage advice to the new graduate: “Choose one.”
He chose Edith. Then, twenty years later, the former district president found a place for one of their sons at Concordia River Forest. The young music teacher met a Chicago undergraduate. “My mother,” Dr. Rast explained. “I owe Dr. Behnken my life, not just once but twice.”
With these stories always come the “What if?” What if he’d missed the train? What if he’d worked somewhere else? What if Dr. Behnken hadn’t asked two sisters to sing a duet? “You all have stories like these,” Dr. Rast said to the women of the Seminary Guild. “Stories end up fitting together, working together. The Lord has put all these pieces together.” He has done so in the small, personal matters; He has done so through the disruptions that have shaken the LCMS throughout her history; He has done so on the cross, where justice and mercy at last met one dark Friday afternoon.
Dr. Rast’s concluding point: 80 years is something to celebrate, as is the ongoing impact of the Seminary Guild to the Seminary’s mission. “It’s huge!” he declared. The Seminary Guild serves in “small” ways. They provide snacks for the students during finals week, birthday cookies for the single students, homemade t-shirts and booties for the newborns, furniture projects in student services, a book project for the new students during fieldwork assignments, and the annual donation day to support the work of the Food & Clothing Co-op. “We can’t qualify [these tasks] from this side of heaven,” Dr. Rast said. Only when we step back—and perhaps only when we finally step back into eternity—will we see how the puzzle pieces all fit together, according to God’s good will and purpose and promises.
From 1932-1962, the LCMS doubled in size from one to two million. This is not the trend we see today; we too are living through significant disruption as the world howls in hostility at the inerrant Word of God. “We remember the really good days, always,” Dr. Rast said. But the reality is that the golden years were probably not as golden as we imagine. “Don’t pine for a past that probably never was.”
Instead, we are simply called to be faithful. And so we pray Psalm 90, the only psalm attributed to Moses, a man of God whose life began, in many ways, at 80:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
Here is more from our librarian, Rev. Bob Smith’s, series covering the missionary work of Friedrich Wyneken, before the formation of the Seminary or the Synod. From the post:
“It broke [Wyneken’s] heart to have to ignore the many pleas to come and prepare children for confirmation and to meet many desperate needs. He could see whole villages sinking back into paganism. On his longer trips, sometimes four to six weeks from home, Wyneken had to depart settlement after settlement, sick with the knowledge that not even a survey missionary would minister in these places for the next few years. He could only promise to return from time to time and tell them of his many letters to Germany, begging for help.”
Friedrich Wyneken wrote the famous “Notruf,” or “The Cry of Need” (or even “Emergency Call”), which eventually spurred the faithful answer from Germany, who sent America her young men, still training to become pastors. You can see where Wyneken’s desperation came from as you read through his missionary journey in the Indiana area:
This great article from the Sangamon County Historical Society tackles a subject dear to our hearts: the Concordia Seminary campus when it was in Springfield, Illinois. There’s a photo of the dedication of Luther’s statue (one of the largest items that moved with us to Fort Wayne), and a rather entertaining rundown on the strictly frugal Rev. Friedrich August Craemer, president of the Seminary when it moved to Springfield in the 1870s.
(Plus the bonus line: “Students were finally allowed to have automobiles on campus in 1941, but even then only under the condition that they ‘were not to be used to cart girls around.’”)