175th Anniversary: St. Paul Installation

The bird’s eye view of Fort Wayne is from 1868. St. Paul’s is number 14 on the map, on Barr St, where you can still find it today.
One hundred and seventy-five years ago on this date in 1845, Rev. Wilhelm Sihler was installed as pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne (as well as Zion Lutheran Church of Friedheim). This is the Sihler after whom Sihler Auditorium here on campus—where most of our Symposia lectures take place—is named. He lived and served in Indiana for 40 years, helping to found CTSFW as well as the LCMS, among other accomplishments. From the “What Does This Mean?” blog, by Rev. Bob Smith, CTSFW librarian:
In 1843, a copy of Wyneken’s ‘Distress of the German Lutherans of North America’ fell into [Sihler’s] hands. Moved to help German immigrants on the American frontier, he came to America as a teacher, but was soon called as a pastor in Pomeroy, Ohio. Wyneken and Löhe convinced him to embrace F. C. D.’s idea to found a seminary for second career pastors nicknamed Nothilfer (“Emergency Helpers”) and Sendlinge (“Sent Ones”) By then, Tens of Thousands of Germans each year poured onto the American frontier, looking to carve new lives out of virgin forests and swamp land. There was little time to follow the usual path of identifying future pastors in their middle school years, provide a classical high school education followed by seminary. Löhe provided an initial education in Germany and Sihler and his assistant pastor would complete it.
Photograph of St. Paul’s uploaded to wikimedia.org on April 30, 2011. St. Paul’s has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.

COVID Update: Call Day & Graduation

While Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), is making plans to begin transitioning back to normal during the summer and into the fall, the unique challenges of this academic year remain through graduation, which, along with Call Day, will be held in an online-only format. Baccalaureate will replace daily chapel on Friday, May 22, at 10 a.m., with Commencement held later that day at 4 p.m. Both services will be livestreamed at www.ctsfw.edu/dailychapel or www.facebook.com/ctsfw, Eastern Time.

Though the normal ebb and flow of activity at the Seminary looks very different these days, the reality at work remains unchanged. Thanks be to God for His great mercy in sending out workers into His harvest fields and students into the practical contexts in which they will be formed for future service. All vicar-elects and deaconess interns have an assignment, every candidate who is available for a Call at this time will receive one, and two deaconesses will receive their placements as well. Due to the technical demands, both services will be combined into a single service on Wednesday, April 29, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

To watch the service, go to https://callday.ctsfw.edu. The service will begin automatically on this site at 6:55 p.m. on April 29; the countdown to the service is currently at just a little over nine days. All vicar-elects, deaconess interns, deaconesses awaiting their placements, and candidates are pictured on this page, with a downloadable link to the service bulletin. After placements, assignments, and Calls are announced at the service, you’ll also have access to several downloadable PDF lists of these men and women, plus a map showing where they’re headed, broken down by district.

“This is certainly a day to look forward to,” said Dr. Gary Zieroth, Dean of Students and Director of Vicarage and Internship. “We can celebrate together the fact that the Lord of the Church is still sending out workers into the harvest field and we can still celebrate the fact that, as we’ve been living these ways these past several weeks, the Word—the Gospel—needs to get out. And it’s being disseminated in many and different ways. Our prayer always is that people are converted, and that people’s faith grows, and that the devil’s schemes are defeated because of this powerful and precious Word. God is with us and God will bless us as we move through these days.”

For those who like to be able to comment with their prayers and congratulations immediately (or enjoy interacting with their fellow watchers throughout the service), watch the livestream at www.facebook.com/ctsfw. Though Facebook won’t have the extra material that’s available on the Call Day website, as you all know the social media platform allows commenting and sharing. We’ll be here as well, answering questions and being with you as these days allow.

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:8-14).

DMin Program

The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree program at CTSFW is designed for the working pastor, meant to help him pursue advanced study applicable to his ministry while he continues to serve his people. The cost of tuition will be going up in the fall of 2020; for any pastor who applies to the program by March 15, 2020—exactly one year from now—with the intention of starting before the fall of 2020, CTSFW will lock in the current cost of the program, $350 per credit, for four years. This is one of the most affordable rates in the country for graduate programs.

The program offers a hybrid structure of online study paired with weeklong intensive classes on the CTSFW campus three times a year to serve our pastor-students. “The program minimized the logistical difficulties of continuing education and maximized the integration of that education into practical parish ministry,” said the Rev. Peter A. Speckhard of Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Munster, Indiana, who recently defended his thesis and will graduate this May. “I enrolled in order to give some structure and accountability to my study.”

It offers three concentrations: Pastoral Care and Leadership, Teaching and Preaching, and Mission and Culture. “This program helped me to focus my studies in a way that I could not have done on my own,” explained the Rev. Brent Klein of Trinity Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minnesota, who also will be graduating this May. “I learned from the readings, the time spent with colleagues during the intensive weeks, and the assignments for the classes. What I appreciated most was that some of the classes I took directly and immediately benefitted my congregation. Even before I had finished the classes, I applied what I had learned for the blessing of the people I serve.”

The Rev. Adam Filipek, also a spring graduate, spoke on how it has increased his skills in preaching, teaching, the biblical languages, and pastoral care, as well as the benefits he saw in his dual parishes, Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lidgerwood, North Dakota. “It has aided in cultivating, in the saints, a deeper love for the one true God, and a desire to dwell with Him here in time, in the Divine Service, and daily through confession and absolution, witness, service, and acts of mercy in the assumption of their respective vocations.”

To learn more about the program or to begin the application process, visit www.ctsfw.edu/DMin. You can also contact our Graduate Studies Department directly with questions about the program at graduatestudies@ctsfw.edu or by calling (260) 452-2203.

The Rev. Dr. Gifford Grobien, Director of the DMin Program, teaches a class.

Advent Devotion

Honor, glory, might, dominion
To the Father and the Son
With the ever-living Spirit
While eternal ages run!
(LSB 345:5)
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“And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’”
(Revelation 7:11, 12)

St. John’s vision of the Lamb seated on the throne is a victory celebration—the grand finale. Like the end of an epic movie, the hero is surrounded by all the major (and minor) characters, shouting for joy! The enemy has been defeated! A multitude from every tribe and nation surrounds the throne in white robes (Rev. 7:9). The 24 elders and the four living creatures are also there (Rev. 4:4, 6). Now the angels join in, declaring the victory of the great hero. By His work, God has shown glory and wisdom and might.
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Yet the hero is not a tall, rugged king or a young boy with unusual power. The throne isn’t even filled by a man. In John’s vision, victory belongs to the Lamb. All the celebration, all the joy isn’t for a hero who has slain the enemy but for the hero who has been slain. Jesus is the Lamb sacrificed for us. He has clothed us in white robes through His blood upon the cross. True glory, wisdom, and might is the ability to die for another. The Lamb has won!
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Let us pray: Heavenly Father, You have set the Lamb slain for the world upon the throne. Wash our robes in His blood, that we may declare His victory with the great multitude of heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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(Written by Keith Kettner, Sem IV)

Lieder Endowment for Organ Maintenance

Financial support to CTSFW comes from a lot of different directions and in a lot of different ways. We have robust student aid programs, folks who like to give to the general fund so that their money can go wherever it is most needed, and those who like to establish and give to specific projects.
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Larry and Elaine Lieder are such people. They established the Lawrence and Mildred Lieder Endowment for Organ Maintenance, which keeps the organ in Kramer Chapel in good condition. They were in Fort Wayne this past week, giving Kantor Hildebrand the chance to show them the organ and the work on the instrument that has been funded by their endowment. They got to take a look inside the Schlicker pipe organ (designed by Herman Schlicker of the Schlicker Organ Company and Eero Saarinen, the architect behind our campus who is most famous for designing the Arch in St. Louis), where the leather has to be maintained to keep leaks from developing (which causes, as Kantor Hildebrand explained it, the pipes to “sing” on their own). All 2,909 pipes were designed to fit into and match the design of the chapel itself.
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Our thanks go to the Lieders for their generosity; I think I speak for a lot of us (from the kantors to the musicians to the worshipers who attend in person and watch daily chapel online) when I say thank you. If you would like to find out more about the Lawrence and Mildred Lieder Endowment or about any ongoing needs or projects at CTSFW, contact our Advancement Office at Advancement@ctsfw.edu or by calling (877) 287-4338.

You’re looking at 2,909 pipes – or nearly that many. Not all of them made this shot, though it gives you an idea of the richness of range that is capable from this organ.
If you’ve ever been up in the choir loft of Kramer Chapel, this is a door you may have passed without noticing it. This gives the Kantors (and anyone else who needs it) access to the pipes.
Kantor Hildebrand gave the Lieders (on the right, with Advancement Officer Lance Hoffman sitting to their left) a short lesson on the organ and how its different parts work in conjunction with each other.

The Jack Phillips Case

Dr. Peter Scaer, recently returned from Tanzania, was on one of our local radio stations this afternoon (WOWO 1190 AM, 107.5 FM) to discuss the Supreme Court decision in the case of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker being sued for declining to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He had served this couple before and – even in the course of his refusal – offered to serve them again for any other celebration, but felt that he could not use his artistic ability to condone a union contrary to his beliefs. For more details, see this article from the Reporter Online. It’s an old one, published in December of last year, but still effectively summarizes the case.
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The Supreme Court decided in favor of Jack Phillips in a 7-2 decision. However, rather than taking on the larger issues of freedom of religion and how that intersects with refusal of service, the decision focused on the anti-religious bias by the Colorado Civil Right Commission towards Jack Phillips, stating that laws need to be applied to religion in a neutral way. Though many doors into the issue of religious liberty thus remain open, Dr. Scaer celebrated the decision for Jack’s sake. “It’s a huge victory for Jack Phillips,” he said. “He’s one of the kindest people you’ll meet, he’s a humble person, a loving person, the kind of person you want as your neighbor. He could’ve lost everything here.”
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As to true tolerance: “[We should] live with one another with our disagreements,” Dr. Scaer explained. “It doesn’t always have to be the destruction of a business, the destruction of a life. This is an agenda thing…this is politically hyped. When you actually get together and talk…face to face, person to person, we get along just great. But you bring in the lawyers, you bring in the politicians, and it sours.
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“We can smile at one another,” he said, “even when we disagree.” Meaning we should speak, in the words of Ephesians 4:15, “the truth in love.”
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From the LSB section on Prayers, Intercessions, and Thanksgivings:

Almighty, everlasting God, through Your only Son, our blessed Lord, You commanded us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us. Therefore, we earnestly implore You that by Your gracious working our enemies may be led to true repentance, may have the same love toward us as we have toward them, and may be of one accord and of one mind and heart with us and with Your whole Church; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Pulled from the Reporter Online, the official newspaper of the LCMS, here is President Harrison’s response to the ruling:

“The decision, while a victory for Phillips, is not all that those concerned about First Amendment rights and religious freedom might have hoped. It appears at first glance that Justice Kennedy, the court’s perennial swing vote, did not see the case as a broader First Amendment issue, as his statements in the oral arguments and decision of the Obergefell case might have indicated. We shall continue to work and pray for reasonable laws and court interpretations which find the balance between the protection of religious and ‘free exercise’ rights of Christians over against the civil rights of others.”

Read the full article HERE.

Commemoration: J.K. Wilhelm Loehe

Today is the commemoration of J.K. Wilhelm Loehe, pastor. Born in Germany in 1808, Loehe was instrumental in the formation of the Lutheran church in the United States, though he would never actually come here himself. In the mid 19th century, German pioneers were desperate for pastors, and Loehe and his friends answered this cry for need by raising money, publishing church books and founding a school near Nuremberg to teach volunteers basic pastoral skills. The spiritual need was so great that these volunteers were sent half-trained, to begin their ministries while finishing their training on American soil.

Rev. Loehe is pictured on the far right. Rev. Wyneken — the name of another classroom building — is on the far left. Dr. Wilhelm Sihler is in the middle top and Prof. August Cramer on the middle bottom.

He was devoted to Christian charity, which led to the establishment of a training house for deaconesses as well as homes for the aged. Loehe Hall (one of our classroom buildings here on campus) was named after him.

New Year’s Eve

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne,
Still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting, Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages, in Thy sight,
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night,
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all who breathe away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Be thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.

O God, our Help in Ages Past, LSB 733

All Saints’ Hymn

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
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Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might,
Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
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Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold!
Alleluia! Alleluia!
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Oh, blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
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And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
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The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
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But lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
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From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
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For All the Saints (LSB 677)