Wyneken’s Journey Continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friedrich Wyneken’s Missionary Journey

Wyneken Heads South to the Wabash

Friedrich Wyneken Returns to Fort Wayne

Saarinen’s Legacy

Professor Roethemeyer, Director of our library and Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, was invited to participate in a National Symposium on Design, Community, and Preservation in Columbus, Indiana, on September 27-28. A highlight for him was the opportunity to meet and interact with Eero Saarinen’s son and daughter, Eric and Susan. Professor Roethemeyer is pictured to the right of the Saarinen siblings at North Christian Church in Columbus, a church designed by their father.

Though most famous as the architect of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, we know Eero Saarinen more familiarly as the designer of our own award-winning Concordia campus. Dedicated sixty years ago on May 20, 1958, our chapel is one of five sacred buildings designed by the Saarinen family. Eliel Saarinen (Eero’s father) designed First Christian Church in Columbus, IN, dedicated in 1942, and Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN in 1949. Eero also designed a church (North Christian Church in Columbus, IN in 1964, where this picture was taken) as well as two chapels: one at MIT in Cambridge, MA in 1955 and the other our own Kramer Chapel at Concordia Senior College (now CTSFW) in 1958.
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The two chapels by Eero 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.
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Art, design, and creativity continues to run in the family. Eric Saarinen is a cinematographer and film director. He is the director of photography and co-producer of the award-winning documentary, “Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future.” Released this past December in the PBS American Masters series, the documentary explores the life and visionary work of Finnish-American modernist architectural giant Eero Saarinen. Now Eric is working on a documentary project that explores the work of his grandfather, Eliel Saarinen.
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Susan Saarinen is an artist, designer, and artisan comfortable working in many different media. She holds degrees in Fine Arts (weaving and ceramics) and Landscape Architecture. Her firm, Saarinen Landscape Architecture, concentrates on environmentally appropriate projects. She is presently writing her memoirs.‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

(With thanks to Professor Roethemeyer for writing today’s post.)

ILC Conference: Rast Presentation

President Rast presented at the International Lutheran Council (ILC) World Conference today in Antwerp, Belgium. This morning the ILC welcomed seventeen new church bodies into membership, ten from Africa, three from Europe, and four from Asia, bringing the total number of church bodies in the ILC to 54, now representing 7.15 million Lutherans.
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The ILC Executive Secretary, Rev. Dr. Albert Collver who is also Director of Church Relations in the LCMS and Assistant to President Harrison, introduced the conference theme of “Ecclesiology and Ecumenism,” followed by our own Dr. Roland Ziegler (Professor of Systematic Theology and Confessional Lutheran Studies here at CTSFW).
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President Rast later spoke on the topic “Turning Points: A History of the Fellowship Issue in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.” Papers from the World Conference will be published on the ILC website in October and rumor has it that there may be an audio recording available of President Rast’s presentation. However, as these are not yet available (we will let you know here on our Facebook page once we have links to share), the following is a small excerpt from his presentation:
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“[In the 1800s, America] was a radically “churched” culture and becoming more so all the time. In this peculiar context, so different than the one that we face today, first allow me to say what the Missouri Synod’s purpose was not. The LCMS was NOT formed to establish the truth of Christianity. For most Americans in 1847, Christianity was the true religion and its Bible was the Word of God. As such, Missouri was relieved of the burden of making arguments for Christianity’s truthfulness. Rather, what was thrust upon it and what it took up willingly and vigorously was to establish the superiority of the Lutheran confession among the various confessions of the churches. And then beyond that to demonstrate the superiority of its doctrinal understanding and practical application of the Lutheran Confessions among the myriad of Lutheran synods in the United States.
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“My point is this: we have struggled, are struggling, and will continue to struggle with the implementation of biblical truth within rapidly changing historical contexts. That has always been the Church’s problem and it will continue so to be until our Lord returns. What this small study hopes to do is to locate a portion of that tension in the question regarding church fellowship. It is perspectival and does not pretend to be exhaustive. It simply seeks to offer an overview with a few explicit examples of how the Synod has faced its ‘turning points.’”
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He then presented the following turning points:

1. Coming to America
2. Forming the LCMS
3. Working Toward Confessional Lutheran Union
4. Picking Up the Pieces after the Predestination Controversy
5. Riding the Ecumenical Roller Coaster
6. We have Met the Enemy…
7. Quo Vadis Missouri?
8. (Also titled Turning Point #?) What’s Next?
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President Rast concluded:
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“The [LCMS] was from its beginning committed…to unity in the truth. Church unity is bound to unity in doctrine and is possible because of the theological unity, which has its basis in the complete truthfulness and clarity of Scripture. False teaching…and false teachers have to be avoided. On this, there is agreement throughout the history of the LCMS. But there is also significant difference of opinion on how to carry that out. Too often we claim a simple historical consensus on the part of Missouri Synod on this question. The reality, not surprisingly, is far more complicated. It is always that way in families and, I expect, it will be that way until our Lord returns. For our part, we live in the here and now with hope and expectation, always relying on the mercy of our gracious God, who has provided salvation for us in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
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You can learn more about the ILC (and especially this conference, including the new member churches), on their news page at https://ilc-online.org/news/.

180th Anniversary: Wyneken’s Journey

It’s another 180th year anniversary in the life of Friedrich Wyneken, the Seminary’s first president. On September 20, 1838, the then-missionary reached the settlement of Friedheim (near Decatur, IN). From the writings of our electronic resources librarian (and historian), Rev. Robert E. Smith:

“The first German he met in Indiana received the missionary with suspicion. ‘If you are an honest pastor, then go to that house over there. A very sick man lies in it,” the woodman challenged. ‘If you are something else, like most pastors coming from Germany, then go over there to the rich wagonmaker!’ ‘Nevertheless, I’d love to see the sick man first,’ Wyneken quipped and then carried through. At this sick man’s home, he learned of Karl Friedrich Buuck, the leader of Jesse Hoover’s Adams County congregation and the pastor’s future father-in-law.”

As was his habit, Wyneken stayed in the area some days to minister to the people there before moving on to Fort Wayne and New Haven. The Wabash-Erie Canal (which made Fort Wayne a focal point in the nationwide water transportation system — in fact you can still walk along the remains of the canal, which serves as a popular bike and walking trail near the Seminary — and thus a good home base for Wyneken who had been assigned the task of surveying Indiana and its ministerial needs) had been completed to Logansport, IN only the year before.

To learn more about this leg in Wyneken’s missionary journey into Indiana, go to https://whatdoesthismean.blog/2018/09/20/friedrich-wyneken-in-indiana.


Today in History

Today in institutional blasphemy: the presidents of the seminaries (President Rast on the left and President Meyer on the right) were spotted sporting each other’s school colors.

From Dr. Rast’s Facebook post with this picture: “My two favorite seminary presidents wearing the ties of my two favorite seminaries.”

But seriously: thanks be to God for the men He has called to serve the Church and especially her future pastors and deaconesses.

In Remembrance

On September 11, 2001, Rev. Radtke was on his way to the Seminary to preach the first sermon of the new term when he heard the news of the two planes hitting the twin towers on his radio. He rewrote his sermon in the car on the way in. We do not have video or audio of the sermon that day, but the text was published in the October 2001 volume of Concordia Theological Quarterly, which you can read at ww.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/radtkesermon9-11.pdf. He began, as the Church always has and always will, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today in History: September 10

Missionary Friedrich Wyneken reached America (specifically Baltimore) in the June of 1838, just as a letter from an elder at St. Paul’s in Fort Wayne reached the Mission Committee of the Pennsylvania Ministerium, begging for a pastor as their own had died. The Baltimore pastors, having gotten to know Wyneken over the summer, recommended him in August, and 180 years ago today, the missionary stopped for supplies in Lima, Ohio, with 64 miles still to go to Fort Wayne. He was following an old Indian trail on horseback.
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A German there pleaded for him to stay, and he did so: for eight days. In those eight days Wyneken preached nine times, baptized fifteen people, and confirmed a young married man who had been catechized but never communed. The missionary thanked God in a letter to a friend that “at the very beginning of my ministry, He had led me to such hungry hearts,” and in a letter to the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Mission Society admitted:
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“I regret now, that I didn’t stay longer with the Germans in western part of the State of Ohio, and did not visit more settlements, because there are no pastors there, and also, as far as I can tell from what I’ve been told, none have been visited by a circuit rider to date”
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Six years later, in 1844, he would begin tutoring the first two students of Concordia Theological Seminary out of the St. Paul parsonage, where he served as pastor in Fort Wayne and Decatur while also traveling to a number of nearby settlements, before formal classes began in October 1846.
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For more details about Wyneken’s week in Lima, visit https://whatdoesthismean.blog/2018/09/10/pastor-wynekens-lima-ministry (with thanks to CTSFW librarian, Rev. Robert E. Smith).

New Gym Facebook Page

The Wambsganss Gymnasium here on campus now has its own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CTSFWGym. Our athletic director is working on increasing reach to the community by letting people know when the gym is open for personal use, as well as rental costs for local schools and other organisations who may be interested in using the gym, fields, or track for practice or games.

Which leads us to our afternoon trivia:

Did you know that the first and only unassisted triple play in World Series history was performed by a Missouri Synod Lutheran who had at one point studied to enter the ministry? His two brothers did become pastors, but Bill Wambsganss ended up in professional baseball as second baseman for the Cleveland Indians. In game five of the 1920 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, “Wamby” (as he was called by headline writers) caught a line drive, stepped on second base to get his second player out, then tagged his third coming from first base.

The gym is named for the family, who were very supportive of programs on campus, and in honor of their son’s athleticism.


The L7 and W8 Auditoriums have long been our most complained about rooms on our student evaluation forms at the end of each school year. If you’re a Fort Wayne alum, you probably know what we’re talking about. This summer we’ve finally been able to prove that we’ve heard these cries, due to the generosity of one of our donors who particularly enjoys tackling brick-and-mortar projects. The remodel is going to be finished in time for the new school year, though the pileup of desk chairs outside each auditorium has become a familiar sight in our classroom buildings.

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On a historical note, while doing some research in the book “Prairie School of the Prophets: The Anatomy of a Seminary 1846-1976” (by Erich H. Heintzen), I found a familiar lament on page 91: “[The Board of Control] would never be free of concern over ‘bricks and mortar.'” The statement followed a handful of notes from their meeting minutes. The following were both recorded on February 5, 1877:
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“Craemer offered his horse to the seminary for drayage purposes but warned that the harness was not strong enough to bear the strain imposed by the bottomless streets; it was resolved that Mr. Sell should look for stronger gear.”
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“The professors requested action by the board to prevent the college animals, particularly the pigs and the cows, from running about between the college and the professors’ homes. The board was sympathetic.”

500th Anniversary of a Summons to Rome

Yesterday was the 500th anniversary of a date that is, in many ways, as much if not more significant than the posting of the 95 Theses:
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On August 7, 1518, Martin Luther received a summons from Rome to defend his 95 Theses. When he first posted the theses, Luther had no idea that anything significant had just taken place. Largely aimed against the abuses of indulgences (an indulgence was a way for Christians to purchase forgiveness for themselves or their loved ones, shortening their time in purgatory), Luther would have expected his theses to simply inspire debate among scholars.
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However, following the translation of the Theses into German and their wide distribution across Europe, the proposed scholarly discussion about indulgences turned into a charge of heresy about the supposed infallibility of the Pope. This summons changed the entire face of the debate. From our librarian, Rev. Bob Smith:
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“What did happen was a steep decline in the purchase of indulgence letters. John Tetzel, the Dominican monk that so annoyed Luther, responded by attacking the theses as heretical. The Archbishop of Mainz forwarded them to Rome, recommending a reprimand for the Wittenberg professor. John Eck of Ingolstadt, who was to become Luther’s chief academic opponent, wrote and circulated an extended handwritten review of the 95 Theses. To Luther’s great surprise, they accused Luther of limiting the Pope’s power and did not focus on his challenge to indulgences at all. In doing so, they turned Luther’s attention to the claims of the pope. He poured over the Scriptures on the subject. Luther composed an extended defense of his theses in February 1518.”

(CLICK HERE to read the full article.)
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God is able use all things and all people for his good purpose. These men, concerned with the sudden loss of income, tried to browbeat and kill the discussion by skipping over the talk of indulgences and pointing to the authority of the Pope instead, driving Luther to Scripture to weigh their words, and thereby changing the significance of his 95 Theses to something theologically and historically momentous. It’s only hindsight that allows us to see the divine hand working in the fools of history.