Military Project Thank You

Deaconess Carolyn Brinkley shared this picture, posted to her page two days ago by Chaplain Jacob Scott with the following caption:

“Thanks so much, Deaconess Carolyn and the CTSFW Military Project! (How’d she know it was on my Amazon list?)”

When Deaconess Brinkley asked Chaplain Scott if we could share his photo with everyone on our CTSFW Facebook page, he agreed, but also wanted to add this quote:

“Thanks to ‘our’ Deaconess Carolyn Brinkley and the CTSFW Military Project for faithfully encouraging so many of us while we serve America’s sons and daughters around the globe. Her thoughtful gifts of books and worship materials have been personally edifying and undoubtedly a blessing to my soldiers.”

Deaconess Brinkley runs the CTSFW Military Project. She provides resources to chaplains (and, through them, to the men and women in the Armed Forces), also praying for those who serve and connecting them with gifts from individuals, congregations, and other groups across the Missouri Synod. She’s the hand behind the notes of encouragement the CTSFW community writes to chaplains and military personnel connected to our community that go out each quarter. You can learn more about the CTSFW Military Project at www.ctsfw.edu/militaryproject.

She also wanted to point out that the book Chaplain Scott is holding, “Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered” by Rick W. Marrs, PhD, was purchased and can be purchased from our CTSFW bookstore. You can contact the store at [email protected] or (260) 452-2160.

Overwhelming Generosity

We have been, quite literally, overwhelmed with you generosity! In just the first day and a half of open drop-off at the Clothing Co-op, Spiegel Hall (where free shopping for the students is organized across the many rooms of the former dormitory building) has received items from two trailers and 40 cars. In fact, our Clothing Co-op staff has asked if our donors could please take another break from drop-off for at least another couple of weeks. After that, they hope that donors can then continue to spread out drop-off times over the next couple of months. Because so many donations have come into our doors, these gifts are actually blocking the hallways for our student shoppers as they seek items to serve their families.

Part of the struggle is that our students haven’t been able to shop in the Co-op for months, so the shelves are still abnormally full for this time of year. Students are at last able to shop once more and have begun picking up clothing, furniture, kitchen wares, and other household items, but that number is only just beginning to increase with the start of Summer Greek this Monday. That number will jump again as we get closer to the end of summer and begin to see our second- and fourth-years (plus those first-years who already had their language requirements) return to campus for Opening Service in September.

That said, our Clothing Co-op staff stressed the need to make sure that we were very careful with how we passed on this request: we still continue to depend on your generosity to provide so many good things for our students and their families. They do not want to discourage that flow of love and care; they’re simply hoping to spread out the drop-off of items so that they have time to sort and organize.

So please bear with us as life returns to normal over the next couple of months! And please know that we are incredibly thankful for your donations (what a blessing to have such a problem!), and look forward to receiving them over the summer and throughout the school year, as always. We could not care for our future church workers as we do without all of you making it possible.

COVID Update: Food Co-op Work Continues

The Food Co-op at CTSFW continues to serve the students even in the midst of restrictions and regulated physical distance. On Tuesday of last week, they held another food drive-thru service, loading up the back of each car as they drove up to the back door of the Co-op and waited their turn. From Deaconess Katherine Rittner, Director of the Food & Clothing Co-op:

“Yes, we are still feeding our students and their families during this time, all-be-it a little differently. The staff of the Food Co-op put together insulated bags with meats in there as well as providing milk, fresh fruits and produce. Eggs are a little harder to come by, but we are able to get them thanks to our amazing donors who are buying them or donating fresh farm eggs. In addition we are putting together boxes with canned goods and staples for the pantry (pasta, instant potatoes, canned fruits, peanut butter and jelly, etc.)

“We have the most amazing donors who are showing us daily the reminder Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:25-34: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’

“‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.'”

She continued:

“We truly are blessed and because of our donors, we are able to continue feeding our students during these difficult times. Some of them are placing orders to be picked up at the local Wal-mart or Kroger and Deaconess Rittner stops to pick them up on her way to the campus. This allows us to easily restock the shelves for easy packing of the food.

In addition, we are finding new avenues to obtain much needed food items for the shelves with the generous donations that are still coming in for the support of the students. I am reminded daily of God’s love and mercy because of the amazing donors we have and I pray daily for each and every one of them. They are truly the visible reminder of God’s caring and love.”

If you are in the area and interested in dropping off items at the Clothing Co-op, the staff are working towards transitioning from appointment donation drop-offs to open drop-off times with more flexibility. Currently, all available appointment times are filled for the week of May 18-29. However, from June 1-12, curbside donations will be accepted between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Donors are not permitted inside, but can place items in the bins; receipts are available in a plastic bag on the end of the bin. The plan is to return to normal on June 15, the week that Summer Greek starts.

Deaconess Rittner (in blue) and Bari Robinson (far left), load up the vehicle for the Souer and Hasselbrook families (both of whom you may recognize from Call Day Service–they’re headed out on vicarage this summer).

Seminary Guild: Mail Services

The Seminary Guild meeting opened with a hymn, followed by a devotion by Rev. James Fundum (on the piano, leading LSB 414).

The Seminary Guild always breaks for January, but now that we’re into February and it’s the second Tuesday of the month, they’re back in business. Business this month is represented by the project-covered table in Luther Hall. Upcoming projects include: a $2,500 project goal to purchase a water bottle filling station (as requested by the students), a box for birthday skillet cookies, samples of handmade CTSFW t-shirts for the newborn babies, and a signup sheet for snacks during finals week. “We need 5 ladies to provide 50-60 servings each per day (Examples, cookies, brownies, Rice Krispies treats, fresh fruit & individually wrapped snacks of any kind — chips, candy, granola bars, etc.),” a handwritten note in the left-hand margin politely explains.

Printing and Postal Services Manager, Kim Hosier

Today, the Guild invited Kim Hosier, Printing and Postal Services Manager, to speak on her vocation here at CTSFW. Kim has served at CTSFW since May of 1992; in a few short months she’ll have been here for 28 years. She started as bookstore secretary before moving to editorial assistant of Concordia Theological Quarterly and secretary for Distance Education, then became manager of Printing and Postal Services in 2004. She orders office supplies for staff on campus, prints CTSFW letters, flyers, and brochures, supervises four student workers in the mailroom, sends international packages (she’s the go-to for navigating the specialized forms and rules involved in international shipping), and creates weekly and monthly reports, to name a few duties. If you’ve ever worshiped in Kramer Chapel then you’ve seen her work: she prints the chapel and Kantorei bulletins we use in services. “Believe it or not, but my degree in college was theater,” she laughed.

Much of her talk today focused on specifics of mailing (rather than her printing duties), as she felt that would be most useful to the ladies of the Seminary Guild. She went over prices, package sizes, and, with 15 years of experience in the mailing room, helpful suggestions on the least expensive way to send mail depending on destination, size, weight, etc. She had a lot of tips on international shipping, as our Seminary has a lot of connections overseas.

She also shared a little known fact: that anyone is welcome to use our mailing services. Kim is not a US postal worker as she is employed by the Seminary, but as she operates a recognized mailroom she is able to offer nearly all the same services as a regular post office, except for registered mail service (used when sending high value items like stocks and bonds, jewelry, etc.). The CTSFW mailroom is located down the hall from the bookstore. Hours:

When classes are in session: 8:30a.m.–4:30p.m. M-F
During quarter breaks and summers: 8:30–11:30a.m., 12:30–3:30p.m. M-F

She is also an excellent resource. The mailroom can be reached at (260) 452-2221. You can also ask her about printing services and fees; we tend to be much more affordable than the usual places around town.

“This is truly a blessed place to work,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better place to work. It’s wonderful working with the students and the staff and the faculty and it’s just really been a blessing. [This job] is nothing I would have expected or planned for myself.”

To learn more about the Seminary Guild and how to become involved in their works, go to www.ctsfw.edu/SemGuild. They can also be reached at [email protected] or (260) 485-0209.

2019 Christmas Marketplace

Last Thursday, December 12, the Food & Clothing Co-op hosted the annual Christmas Marketplace for our residential students in the church worker formation programs here on campus (MDiv, AR, and Deaconess Program).

Per usual, the Church’s generosity—your generosity—to our future pastors, deaconesses, and their families was astounding. You gave a total of $59,000 for this year’s marketplace. The Co-op staff were able to stuff 123 envelopes with $350 in gift cards and put them in each of our student’s mailboxes. Gift cards are for local stores, national chains, restaurants, and gas cards, plus 10 days worth of dining hall lunch tickets for the 80 students who are here in Fort Wayne but are married and live off campus with their spouse and children. It saves them from having to pack in a lunch when they’re on campus for classes over the lunch hour.

The rest of the money went towards eight $50 gift card door prize winners, 14 gift basket drawings (which included gift sets for toddlers and one for family game nights; to a roaster, countertop convection oven, and other kitchen gift sets; plus the deaconess gift set and pastoral gift set), and an emergency fund which serves our students during times of unexpected need. There were also two dorm rooms filled with hundreds of quilts, sewn and mailed in from all over the country for each family to choose from, plus a number of other crafted items like hats and mittens.

From the Food & Clothing Co-op Director Deaconess Katherine Rittner’s Christmas note to the students:

“There are many people around the country who care for you and pray for you daily. The quilt you picked out for your family is a daily reminder of that love, care and prayer from those who are not here to tell you themselves… It is because of them you received your gifts. Enjoy them and have a blessed Christmas!”

Thank you to all who gave! Paul’s words of praise regarding the Macedonians comes to mind:

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (2 Cor. 8:1-5).

In deepest gratitude: thank you. Not only for your love for our students (and your future pastors and deaconesses), but for the privilege we have in boasting of all of you. God’s richest blessings to you in this and all seasons!

Military Project: Words of Encouragement

Deaconess Carolyn Brinkley’s service to the Church is through the Military Project. She has an office here on the CTSFW campus where she writes to chaplains and military personnel from all over the world, answering requests and filling their needs as she’s able. One such project is the “Body and Soul Care Packages,” which go out to the family and friends of the Seminary community who are currently deployed. Every two weeks they receive a package containing such items as a CD with two abbreviated Divine Services, Lutheran Witness, theological materials according to the church year, and even some goodies.

Another of her ongoing projects is “Words of Encouragement.” This Monday, students, staff, and faculty signed notes during coffee hour following chapel, which in this season will send Christmas greetings to deployed LCMS chaplains and military personnel. As Deaconess Brinkley put it in her request to the community for help in signing the cards: “Your notes of appreciation and comfort mean so much to those who defend our freedoms far from home during the holidays. Looking forward to your help with this work of mercy.”

To learn more about the Military Project’s mission and work, go to www.ctsfw.edu/militaryproject. You can also contact Deaconess Brinkley at [email protected]

Prayerfully Consider Visit

PCV participants during the welcome and opening.

The Prayerfully Consider Visit (PCV) is a biannual event at CTSFW; you’ve likely heard us talk about it before. We hold this three-day visit for prospective students in both the fall and the spring, to give these men and women the time and tools they need during the discernment process as they consider whether a vocation as pastor or deaconess is in their future. About 30 PCV participants were with us from October 10-12, most of them pastoral program prospects with a few deaconess program prospects plus a handful of spouses. Spouses are always encouraged to come. They are absolutely a part of any future vocation—not just vital to the success of it, but truly a part of it.

Rev. Matt Wietfeldt

PCV began on Thursday with prayer in Kramer Chapel, then a welcome and orientation breakfast. Rev. Matt Wietfeldt, head of Admissions here at CTSFW, explained the purpose of these three days. “Take the name seriously,” he said. These men and women have taken time out of their busy lives to come to campus to consider these questions: will you become a pastor? A deaconess? Or is it better to remain in your current vocation?

By coming to campus, attendees share in the blessing of the CTSFW community. “We gather together first and foremost in worship,” Rev. Wietfeldt explained, describing the identity of the people who live, work, and study here. “We’re a community that is always in prayer. It is there [at Kramer Chapel] that we are formed and refreshed in the blood of the Lamb.”

He went on. “We are a community that is in study—but learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom.” Much of the formation process happens between classes, in the student commons or in the dining hall as classmates talk and debate and pull their professors into the discussion. There is no faculty lounge at CTSFW, so the professors are always with the students and available to them. “We are community about fellowship,” Rev. Wietfedlt finished. “It’s about being together as brothers and sisters, in worship and study but also as we lift each other up in good and bad.”

After his welcome, Rev. Wietfeldt had the participants stand and introduce themselves. Participants came from as close as the Fort Wayne area but also from Virginia, Albuquerque, NM, and Seattle. A handful were seniors at university (there aren’t usually as many college students at PCV during the fall as most of them attend Christ Academy: College at the end of the month) and plenty were second career from a variety of backgrounds. Some of these men and women are lifelong Lutherans, but others have come to us by much longer journeys, like the former charismatic who loves the scriptural doctrine of Lutheranism.

“I’m here to see if this is a fit for my life,” one participant explained. “It’s been in the back of my head for a long time.” Another participant knew he wanted to work for the Kingdom but hadn’t decided whether that would mean as a pastor; he’s here to find that out.

Still others know they’ll be starting in the fall. “I was 15 or 16 when my grandma told me: you should be pastor,” one prospect admitted. “I laughed but haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.”

One deaconess prospect explained that she was a teacher and felt that diaconal work seems very similar to what she was already doing. She simply wants to get stronger in theology. An undergraduate still in college said she had attended the high school program for Christ Academy and wanted to become a deaconess.

One of the attendees who has been thinking about becoming a pastor for the past thirty years recognized his thoughts in the words coming out of his fellow brothers’ and sisters’ mouths. “I wondered: gosh, am I the only one who grapples with these things?” He looked around the group, grinned, and answered it for himself: “Nope.”

The student panel, left to right: Ethan Stoppenhagen, Anna Barger, Katherine and Aaron Schultz, Jeremy McDonald, Haley Kazmierski, Jeffrey Kazmierski (with admission counselor Rev. John Dreyer in the background between the Kazmierskis.)

They would hear much of their thoughts echoed back to them later that evening, during the student panel discussion. The Admission Department had five current students (plus two spouses) answer questions about what their own journey was like. One couple, for example, attended 3 or 4 PCVs before they officially joined the CTSFW community. “We took our time,” he explained. “There was no doubt we were going to come, it was just a matter of when.” It took them about four years to work first through the discernment process and then prepare for the move. They had to uproot their family, and the couples’ own parents were worried. “They thought we’d be on food stamps.” Instead, that Christmas they came home with an abundance—fresh produce, given to them by the Food Co-op that they didn’t want to waste. “In the absence of truth, the imagination takes over,” his wife explained.

The transition was far faster for another couple. A Lutheran school teacher for ten years, the thought of becoming a pastor had always been with seminarian Aaron Schultz. “I felt a restlessness,” he explained, which grew alongside those long-held thoughts of becoming a pastor. He told his wife he finally wanted to go for it in October, and he was attending classes by the next September. She was on board from the first. “It was a quick process for us,” she explained.

Another student was a former Specific Ministry Pastoral program graduate, whose District President encouraged him to go back to Seminary to earn an MDiv so that he could serve full time. “I made a decision and went for it…God finds you and steers you,” he explained. “I had a lot of people praying for me. I’m not a lifelong Lutheran, and this doctrine is important to me.”

Second-year deaconess student, Anna Barger, is the daughter of a deaconess. So naturally: “No way, I thought. Not me.” However, she has long been interested in sign-language and, during a weeklong intensive course about the incredibly specialized vocabulary of signed liturgy, learned that 85-90% of the deaf community had no faith. “No one speaks their language,” she explained. “That didn’t sit well with me. I realized how much I took it for granted that I can go anywhere in the country—even the world—that I can sit in a pew and know what’s going on.” She gave in: she would become a deaconess, continuing to hone her skills in sign language alongside the specialized niche of theological language.

Another second-year seminarian came to us immediately out of college. Ethan Stoppenhagen has known his course for years. In high school, he explained to a teacher that he too wanted to become a teacher. “Why not a pastor?” she asked. His immediate response: “Well I can’t do that!” It stuck with him, though. He attended Christ Academy High School and by the time he was in college he knew exactly where he was going to go.

Rev. Wietfeldt summed it up well: “The discernment process is specific and unique because they’re all specific and unique,” he pointed out. Their ages are different, the length of discernment is different, and the transition process too is shaped by the individuals going through it.

Earlier in the day, Dean of the Chapel, Dr. Grime, had introduced himself to the participants of PCV as they began the three-days of discernment, speaking briefly on bringing Christ to a fallen world. “Into that hopelessness, you have interest in taking a sliver of that hope into a corner of the world. And it is a corner. Thank goodness we haven’t been asked to save the world.” And why are some called to these unique vocations? Or, in the words of the late Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel, “Why would you want to do it? Because it was given us to be done.”

Coffee hour following chapel. PCV participants mingled with both current students and faculty (that’s Dr. David Scaer in the foreground talking to one of the prospective students).
Prospective deaconess student meets and talks with current first-year deaconess students.

2019 Donation Day

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).

Dr. Paul Grime and 4th-year seminarian Jonah Domenichelli stand in the back row; the women, left to right: Marge Gruber, Susan Gruber, Jeanna Schimmelmann, Deaconess Katherine Rittner, Janice Gerzevske, Barb Kaun

“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.”

Donation Day visitors spent time in the student commons after chapel to meet the students and families that they are supporting.

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.

Behind the scenes in the dining hall, as the families wait for their cue to come walk the floor in Luther Hall.

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.

The Seminary Guild’s 80th Donation Day

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.

Phyllis Thieme, president of the guild, addresses the 2018 Donation Day visitors.

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.

Deaconess Katherine Rittner, Director of the Food & Clothing Co-op.

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.”

May we strive to do the same. Thanks be to God.

The Seminary Guild and Disruptions in the LCMS

Rev. Fundum leads devotion.

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.”

President of the Guild, Phyllis Thieme, sits in the foreground of this shot as they study God’s Word.

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.

Dr. Rast points out the Seminary Guild sign, recently discovered in the archives of the Seminary–meaning, he explained with a laugh, that it had likely been found and dug out of a closet.

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.

Members of the Guild register for the first meeting of the year. Deaconess Amy Rast (in black), Dr. Rast’s wife, greets the ladies.

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!