Our Advancement Office wishes you greeting on this, the second day of the 174th academic year at CTSFW, and wanted to pass on an opportunity to serve our future pastors and deaconesses through your financial gifts. For those of you who receive our mailings, this year’s back-to-school appeal was printed on diamond-shaped cards, in honor of the Concordia bricks that make up much of the architecture of campus. You can read a bit about the symbolic significance of the bricks by clicking the picture below.
As King David neared the end of his life, responsibility for the brick-and-mortar work of building God’s house passed to his son, Solomon. We read in 1 Chronicles 29 that God’s people responded generously to support this work with their offerings. Together they built God’s house!
Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
1 Chronicles 29:29
Today, the work of servant formation at CTSFW continues for the next generation. This work is firmly rooted in our mission statement: Concordia Theological Seminary exists to form servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all.
As we open our 174th academic year, we ask for your prayers and for your gifts in support of the brick-and-mortar work of building current students to become future servants.
Your gifts are needed in two area. Please consider a gift to:
The Fund for CTSFW: Your gifts help our students by providing resources for the day-to-day operations of the Seminary as well as meeting the 100% Tuition Grant. This is the area of greatest need.
Tuition Aid: Your gifts specifically provide for the 100% Tuition Grant, now in its second year, for our residential seminarians and deaconess students.
To make a donation, go to www.ctsfw.edu/make-a-gift. The form is automatically set to designate any gifts to the “Fund for CTSFW,” though you can choose “General Student Aid” (for the tuition grant) in the drop-down menu next to “Designation.”
As future servants start a new year of formation at CTSFW, please join us in assisting them as they begin or resume their studies and preparation. We welcome your prayers and financial support. Together we will provide workers to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and care for God’s people for future generations!
A couple of weeks ago, we published a number of Facebook posts on the joint booth we ran together with CSL for the Synod Convention in Tampa. The collegiality continued with a joint Board of Regents meeting that took place at the end of last week. BOR chairmen from both CTSFW and CSL met here on our campus. You can read more about our joint efforts here:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CTSFW)—The Rev. Dr. Ron Garwood and the Rev. Todd Peperkorn, chairmen of the Boards of Regents of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (CSL), respectively, celebrated the conclusion of a productive joint meeting of the seminary boards, held August 8–9 in Fort Wayne. They spoke highly of both schools and seminary presidents, the Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. of CTSFW and the Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer of CSL.
“I want to commend Dr. Dale Meyer and Dr. Lawrence Rast for their leadership, which has helped the two seminaries work together even more closely over the last triennium,” said Chairman Garwood. “The seminaries collaborated to host a joint reception and a joint welcome booth at the Synod Convention this summer. Our faculties and boards, through ongoing dialogue, jointly submitted a number of overtures this year as well, and we look forward to continuing close cooperation as our seminaries work to prepare faithful and loving pastors for our Synod.”
“As an alum of CTSFW while serving on the CSL board,” continued Chairman Peperkorn, “it is a particular joy for me to be on campus in Fort Wayne, seeing my new friends and colleagues working so closely with the school that formed me as a pastor. We have an almost unprecedented opportunity to shape the Church of the future with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hear in Proverbs that ‘Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another’ (Prov. 27:17). It is my prayer that our work together will continue to strengthen both schools, and that more men will be formed as pastors in the years to come.”
Among the actions approved, the joint boards agreed to establish a formal process for the leadership of each board to meet regularly, in addition to the bylaw-established annual joint meeting of the full board. This leadership group will help increase dialogue and coordination between the seminaries, and will assist in setting the agenda for the annual joint board meeting.
During the joint board meeting, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Chief Mission Officer, the Rev. Kevin Robson, presented to the boards on matters before the Pastoral Formation Committee, including the comprehensive church worker recruitment initiative being planned by the Synod, seminaries, Concordia University System, and districts. The boards also engaged on cultural changes facing the Church and how they are affecting the work of the seminaries. Additional reports included a presentation by President Rast on “Sustainable Futures: Recognizing and Confronting the Challenges Facing Christian Colleges and Universities” while the Mid-South District President, the Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola, spoke on “The 10 Tsunamis Impacting Ministries: How Do we Survive What’s Coming?”
Together, Presidents Rast and Meyer presented on the state of the seminaries. They completed their presentation with frank truth and in the hope we have in Christ: “The challenges facing our seminaries and our Church are many, but our Lord is faithful and He will see us through these current and future challenges just as He has in the past.”
Synod Convention comes to a close soon as voting ends and the delegates begin to go home. Here are some visual highlights of the week as we worked with our sister seminary from St. Louis. The booth design itself reflected the reality that though we are two distinct seminaries, we exist for the same Church and mission, especially as we hear the cry from our congregations for more pastors, praying that the Lord of the harvest may send more laborers into His harvest. We met with many visitors, from alumni to laypeople to a number of prospects, some of them from the Concordia Universities’ booth that was kitty corner to our location (this year they too decided to share booth space) and others who are considering the ministry as a second career.
One of our giveaways was a T-shirt, printed with “We Are Your Seminaries: For the Gospel” (with the sem logos on each sleeve) in Fort Wayne blue and St. Louis green. Our seminary presidents, Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr. and Dr. Dale Meyer, stopped by and posed with each others’ school colors. It was a joy to work with our brothers and sisters from Concordia Seminary; we shared duties and spent a lot of time laughing and trying to one up each other to see who could hand off the most swag throughout the week. We finished with the alumni reception, which was also held jointly, allowing our pastors and deaconesses to spend the evening together.
One of the smaller giveaways–a prayer card tucked into the tote bags (with both seminary logos on them, one on each side)–encapsulated our purpose and intent this week (and every week), as we worked together in Christ:
Dear God, we ask that You continue to bless both of our seminaries as they seek to prepare men for pastoral ministry, women for service as deaconesses in Your Church and other workers for Your ministry. Be with their students, faculty and staff as they seek to do Your will. We also ask You to raise up and send new laborers into Your harvest so that Your salvation reaches the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
The two seminaries shared a sign and a tower (we posed with our St. Louis counterparts in front of the tower as we began cleanup yesterday afternoon), and had separate kiosk space, though there was a lot of crossover back and forth as we worked together. Dr. Just joined us for awhile as well.
A snapshot of some of the work we did: one of our IT guys meeting with a deaconess from Bethesda to discuss technology options for the men and women they serve, working together with the St. Louis crew to stuff tote bags, handing out T-shirts, and scooping out the last of the M&Ms. We had candy dispensers at each kiosk with M&Ms special printed in blue and white and green and yellow with sem graphics printed on them. (Hauling 80 pounds of candy through the airports is another story in and of itself, but they were a big hit and well worth it.)
A snapshot of the alumni reception. Dr. Rast and Dr. Meyer are in the first picture, more alumni, including newly ordained graduate of CTSFW, is in the second, and Dr. Gard and Dr. Fickenscher (left to right, respectively, in the last picture) said they were celebrating the nine year anniversary of their mutual defeat: they not only roomed together during the 2010 Synod Convention, they allowed their names to stand as presidential candidates (numbers 4 and 5 they explained, grinning, and only on the list for necessity).
Here are some of the items we handed out to our booth visitors. The totes were the same–the picture here is simply showing the two sides–and you can catch a glimpse of the silhouette of Kramer Chapel on the blue and white M&Ms and the CSL seal on the green and yellow ones.
(Side note: the cup the M&Ms are artfully arranged in is actually a LCEF mug, who were in the booth right next door.)
It’s quiet on campus leading into the 4th of July, especially with the conclusion of Christ Academy and the Intermediate/Advanced Organist Workshop (about 90 campus guests and visitors in all). That means today is a good time to catch up on some of the events we missed last week. One such event was the LWML Convention in Mobile, Alabama, where the Director of the Food & Clothing Co-op, Katherine Rittner, manned the CTSFW booth. Dr. and Mrs. Rast were also in attendance.
The photos showcase some of the activity around the booth. In this first picture, Katherine Rittner is standing to the right of Diane Torrey from the LWML Iowa East District. The Iowa East District is just one of the many districts that support the Co-op, which helps care for future church workers by providing food and clothing while they’re just students trying to balance seminary with the practical demands of family and finances. The LWML Convention served as an excellent place to show those who care for these men and women how much they’re doing in support of their formation.
“There’s this hum and this buzz going through and everybody’s excited to be there, glad to see what’s coming next; how they can continue to serve the Lord with gladness but always asking what’s coming next,” Katherine said of the atmosphere at the LWML convention. As to “what’s next” for the Co-op, the specifics may change but the foundational answer is always the same: “We help in that preparation [forming servants in Jesus Christ] by taking care of them. We help to grow the harvesters so that we can continue to harvest the harvest field.”
Dr. Rast spent time at the booth as well, greeting people (among them alumni and recent grads) and, at one point, interviewing with the LWML National Office via cell camera. Deaconess Amy Rast was kept busy answering questions about the Deaconess Program at CTSFW, as well as about Christ Academy (which is a great opportunity for young women to find out more about the vocation of deaconess and the role of mercy work in the Church). Both she and Katherine, who just graduated from the Deaconess Program this past May, had many opportunities to talk about the residential and distance programs available at CTSFW for diaconal education.
In this particular picture taken by Katherine, Deaconess Rast is standing to the right of Rev. Thomas Dunseth, who works with Mill Neck Foundation for Deaf Ministry as they talk with two young women. If you recognize this organization’s name, it’s because they run the Church Interpreter Training Institute (more commonly referred to as CITI) that takes place each summer right before Christ Academy. We wouldn’t be able to offer these Deaf Ministry courses for our students without their partnership, as they also provide instructors for Deaf Ministry here at CTSFW.
One of the moments that particularly stuck out to the Director of our Co-op was the opportunity to meet with many of the LCMS District Presidents, even if for less than a minute. “Being able to get just that little 30 second time slot, you tell them, personally, thank you, to let them know how important they are to us—to tell them, in all honesty, without them I can’t do my job and I can’t take care of our future pastors and deaconesses and their families,” Katherine explained. “To tell them what it means to me and to the students, to have their continued prayers and support, makes a huge difference. Not just for them but also for me.”
And she always comes to these conventions armed with thank you letters from students. Though the majority of these LWML women and the future servants they’re supporting will never meet face-to-face in this life, the pen-and-paper notes create a tangible connection. Said one LWML convention attendee, “I read the note and I couldn’t help but cry.”
Thank you. Thank you all for your prayers, your encouragement, and your support. From Thessalonians 1:2-3: “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
[With credit to the LWML Iowa East District for the photo of Katherine and Diane next to the CTSFW booth.]
The Seminary Guild held their last meeting of the academic year yesterday, gathering for a luncheon that was preceded by some Guild business and thank yous from Director of the Food and Clothing Co-op, Katherine Rittner (who was once a student wife with six children, and knows their support firsthand—“We made it because of you,” she said to the ladies) and President Rast (“Your support is invaluable. You are truly a blessing”). It was followed by a keynote presentation, Bible Study, and the installation of the new board.
The keynote presentation featured deaconess students who had traveled to the Dominican Republic last May. Second-year deaconess student Kate Phillips began the topic, “God’s Mercy in Mission,” with an audio clip of school children singing “This Is the Day the Lord Has Made” in Spanish, from morning devotions in Santo Domingo. Showing a picture of a gate in front of one of the churches, designed as Luther’s Rose, she explained: “In this presentation we will open the doors of our experience to you.”
The goal of the mission work in Latin American is three fold: Spread the Word, Plant Churches, and Show Mercy. While there, the students were able to visit all four congregations in the Dominican Republic, attend Bible Studies, and visit schools and centers for mercy. “There’s something special about worshiping with brothers and sisters in a different language, but the same words” said second-year deaconess student Bethany Stoever. A Spanish hymnal is currently in the works, and the liturgy is very familiar even in a different language. Catechetical instruction is also very important to the mission in the Dominican Republic.
Culturally, time is far more relaxed; services start when people—especially the pastor—shows up. Church buildings are also barred outside of service hours for security reasons (a commonplace practice across the country). However, during offering, which is not passed around but rather carried individually to the front of the church, Bethany said, “It was truly humbling to see the members walking forward in front to drop off their gift.” Expenses in the Dominican Republic are very similar to American expenses, and yet minimum wage is $200 a month. Many people—even those with specialized education and careers in the medical field—have to work multiple jobs.
The Dominican people are very social, their homes incredibly close together. “The fellowship aspect of their culture is something America lacks,” Kate noted. During their visitations to homes in Palmar Arriba and Pueblo Nuevo, the deaconess students listened to the stories of these members’ lives, holding the hands of those they listened to and offering encouragement. They also participated in home Bible studies. “These are things we all need,” she said. “Prayer, human touch, and the Gospel. We are all part of the Body of Christ.”
Another second-year deaconess student, Stephanie Wilde, spoke of the seminary in the Dominican Republic. Seminario Concordia El Reformador serves the entire region, their nine students hailing from all over Latin America. The Deaconess Program there is not nearly as formal as that for the pastoral students, but Stephanie noted the many similarities between their seminary and ours: fieldwork, vicarage, and coffee and conversation between classes and chapel. “Building relationships is important,” she stressed. The three-story building shares space with a congregation and an elementary school, with the school on the first floor, the congregation worshiping on the second, and seminary classrooms and guest housing on the third. The dorms are located down the hill from the seminary.
Schools are also a great way to reach out into the community with the Gospel, as they are here in America, both today and historically. The school in Palmar Arriba serves preschool through sixth grade. Students pay $10 a month to attend, and the school’s finances are supplemented by a congregation in Florida. The school day begins with a Bible story taught by a deaconess, as they work to increase biblical literacy.
Chelsie MacIntosh, the final second-year deaconess student to speak, spoke of the special needs centers and programs they also visited, like the Good Shepherd Home and the Home for Adults with Developmental Disabilities. They traveled to centers that cared for orphan adults with disabilities; in one center, all but two of these men and women were nonverbal, having grown up in orphanages with no specialized care before they aged out.
One of the focuses of the mission work in the Dominican Republic at such places is to teach caregivers that these men and women are neither angels who are put on earth to teach people spiritual or moral lessons (whose physical needs thus come secondary), nor should they be neglected or dehumanized. The lack of care is almost always due to a lack of education. Patient care has improved as the nurses learn, and the care centers have changed from dehumanizing institutions where patients are referred to by numbers, to more home-like environments where patients are recognized as people with names and given opportunities to go outside. The greater goal has become to help them rejoin their families and communities.
The mission in the Dominican Republic has had a great impact, as the people have learned, as Chelsie put it, to “See with the eyes of light, to see them as people. It’s a beautiful model of how to care, seeing our neighbors as children of God.”
Deaconess Amy Rast, Associate Director of Deaconess Formation Programs, concluded the presentation with a thank you to the LWML (knowing that many of the women in the Seminary Guild serve both through the Guild as well as through their LWMLs at their home congregations) for supporting these missions. So far, nine graduates of the Deaconess Program here at CTSFW have served in Latin America, and two more will intern in the Dominican Republic in just a few months. You’ll find out which ones in less than three weeks, during Deaconess Internship Assignments.
Deaconess Rast also added that there are currently 37 women in the Deaconess Program right now, including both residential and long-distance students, as well as those on their internships. “Thank you for all that you do in support of that,” she said.
Brittni Brown, Deaconess Studies Program Intern, then followed up with a Bible study on Psalm 116. “You get to join us for a class,” she told the ladies. The deaconess students study psalms throughout their program, and this academic quarter features Psalm 116. “And I also love it,” she admitted with a smile.
I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”
The Seminary Guild then called their meeting to order, finishing with the installation of the new officers and closing devotions by Rev. Jim Fundum, Admission Counselor and theological adviser to the group. Their next meeting takes place after summer, on September 10, 2019, for the Getting to Know You Tea. “As Dorcas (Acts 9:36) supported the apostles as they spread God’s word, we, as sisters in Christ, have an opportunity to share God’s love through our support of the students, faculty, staff and the seminary as a whole,” the Seminary Guild explained in their meeting agenda. “We want our Guild to thrive for years and years to come, but do that, we need YOU. See you back here in September.”
Friends of the Fort is a group of pastors, supported by their congregations, who bring simple gifts of gratitude to the staff members and faculty that serve here at CTSFW. These past two days you’ve seen two of their number preach in chapel: the Rev. Dr. Steve Sohns from Resurrection Lutheran Church in Spring, Texas, on Thursday and the Rev. Dr. Scott Seidler from Concordia Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri, just his morning. Five others joined them for their trip to campus (and an additional Rev. Dr. who couldn’t make it this year, but whose congregation still contributed to the gifts). Some are alumni of CTSFW, but others claim our sister Seminary in St. Louis as their alma mater. They hail from Florida, Texas, Nebraska, California, Missouri, and Illinois.
“The Friends of the Fort have told us repeatedly what a joy it has been to get to know all of you,” Carrie O’Donnell, Assistant to President Rast, wrote in an email to all staff and faculty, “and they appreciated the opportunity to thank you in person for all that you do in service to our Lord and His Church.”
Our gratitude goes out to Reverends Jeff Skopak, Al Doering, Santiago Keinbaum, Tim Klinkenberg, Steve Sohns, Scott Seidler, Ken Krueger, Charles Mueller, and Chris Esget; for the gifts from your congregations; for stopping by each office and work station to meet all of us; for the thank you cards and letters created by the kids of Grace Lutheran Church and School (Jacksonville, Florida); and for the joy you have given all of us as you have taken this time in the busy season of Lent to encourage those who work behind the scenes.
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
A Lenten and Eastertide message from our Advancement Office:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
The peace which Christ spoke to the disciples, to you, and to the entire world is not rooted in idle talk. Rather, Jesus speaks of what He alone brings: life and salvation. The Gospel promise, first spoken by the Lord in Genesis, is the promise of Satan’s utter defeat (Genesis 3:15).
The mock trials, beatings, and bloody battle on the Cross at Golgotha, in which Christ’s heel was bruised in order to crush Satan’s head, might trouble people. The sinful hearts of all who hear the passion of Christ can be tempted to stumble and be afraid. Yet, such fears are only whispers of the deceiving Satan who assails the heart with doubt. Scripture teaches us that heavenly peace results from this conflict.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther wrote concerning John 14:27, “It is a very comforting and pleasing bequest that He leaves them. It does not consist of cities and castles or of silver and gold; it is peace, the greatest treasure in heaven and on earth. He does not want His disciples to be fearful and mournful; He wants them to have true, beautiful, and longed-for peace of heart. ‘For so far as I am concerned,’ Christ says, ‘you shall have nothing but sheer peace and joy. All My sermons to you and all My associations with you have let you see and realize that I love you with all My heart and do for you everything that is good, and that My Father is most graciously disposed toward you. That is the best I can leave to you and give you; for peace of heart is the greatest peace’” (Luther’s Works, Vol 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapter 14–16).
Since Jesus Christ obtained the victory all your fear s are removed. Therefore we are given peace in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and sing joyfully:
“Praise we in songs of victory
That love, that life which cannot die,
And sing with hearts uplifted high:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”
(LSB 475:3; text copyright Cyril A. Alinton)
Concordia Theological Seminary exists to form servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all. As these future servants prepare to bring the peace of Christ to others, will you join us in guiding them toward such a noble purpose? Your prayerful and financial support to CTSFW is welcomed and is vital for our continued work. You can learn about the many ways in which you can support your future pastors and deaconess at www.ctsfw.edu/give-for-today, or by contacting our Advancement Office at [email protected] and (877) 287-4338.
Out of love for our seminarians, deaconess students, graduate students, and their spouses, Grace Place Wellness Ministries held a free weekend retreat in Fort Wayne for those who had never attended one of their two-day wellness and wholeness retreats before. Dr. John Eckrich, founder of Grace Place Lutheran Wellness Ministries led the retreat. Rev. Timothy Puls (Advancement Officer and Director of Alumni and Church Relations) and Dr. Gary Zieroth (Dean of Students) and his wife Joann were in attendance as well.
The retreat is designed to help cultivate spiritual wellbeing, using the Lutheran Spiritual Wellness Wheel with baptism and our identity as a new creation in Christ in the center. The topics covered the spokes of the wheel: relational wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, financial wellbeing, vocational wellbeing, and intellectual wellbeing.
As explained by Rev. Puls: “Not all these areas are necessarily strong for every person or marriage or congregation. However, every Christian’s baptismal identity, specifically how they have been made new and alive in Christ, may positively impact all these areas (the spokes) in the lives of pastors, their marriages, their families, and congregations.”
Say good afternoon to the ladies of our Seminary Guild! Normally, any pictures taken at these meetings are from the back of the room, but today we had the opportunity to take one from the front. These faithful women serve our seminarians, deaconess students, and their spouses and families in very personal, meaningful ways.
Some of their ongoing projects include support of the Food and Clothing Co-op, providing snacks to the students during final weeks and birthday treats for the single students on their birthdays, making t-shirts and booties for babies born to our married students throughout the year, and the annual Legacy Project. They also support a larger project that benefits the students each year; most recently, this project was to purchase new furniture for Student Services.
Today marked the second to last of their meetings for the academic year. The final meeting is a Spring Luncheon on April 9, though their work will continue through the end of the year and into graduation, when they host additional receptions and give gifts to the wives of each graduate and to the deaconess graduates.
On Tuesday, the Seminary community wrote notes of encouragement to our servicemen and women (some of them the siblings of seminarians and others the children of a staff member here), as well as to the LCMS chaplains serving these men and women. This is an ongoing work of the Military Project, established by CTSFW and overseen by Deaconess Carolyn Brinkley. You can learn more about the program at www.ctsfw.edu/militaryproject.
The last time the community wrote cards, one of the recipients was LCMS Chaplain Gregory Todd, as congratulations for his recent promotion to the rank of rear admiral. He now serves as deputy chief of Navy chaplains and chaplain of the US Marine Corps. From the Reporter article, “LCMS Caplain Gregory Todd promoted to rear admiral in Washington, D.C. ” (https://blogs.lcms.org/2018/chaplain-gregory-todd-promoted-to-rear-admiral):
“Our military chaplains are really an extension of the outreach of the local parish,” Todd explains. “We are here to care for our LCMS young people who join the military, as well as proclaim the Gospel to all people hungry to hear of Christ’s forgiveness. We get to be present with military members in good times and bad, representing a divine presence and the support of folks back home.”
Thank you to Deaconess Brinkley and to the CTSFW community for playing a part in that encouragement and support from back home.