Worship Resources: Propers and Trinity

CTSFW is offering new worship resources for several upcoming Sundays: eight new Introits for Proper 6A, Proper 7A, Proper 8A, Proper 9A, Trinity 1, Trinity 2, Trinity 3, and Trinity 4.

With many churches around the country considering how to transition back to in-person services in the weeks and months ahead, CTSFW’s Worship Resources page is offering simple settings of the Introit for the first few weeks after Holy Trinity. They can be utilized in small and large parishes alike and only require a soloist or unison choir.

These Introits written by Associate Kantor Matthew Machemer are available for download, printing, and distribution at https://www.ctsfw.edu/resources/worship. Click on the blue bar labeled “INTROITS.” Click on the title of the introits you’d like to download and print. Let us know if you require any assistance in accessing these resources.

Student Highlight: Anna Miels

Last month, shortly after the COVID-19 shutdown, we received the following message from Rev. Derek Wolter, Chaplain at the Lutheran Home & Harwood Place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He wrote to boast of his deaconess intern, Anna Miels, who is in our Master of Arts (Leading to Deaconess Certification) Program. She began her internship at Lutheran Home & Harwood Place in January 2020.

“Anna has been a true gift to us during this current situation,” Chaplain Wolter explained in an email to Deaconess Amy Rast, Associate Director of Deaconess Formation Programs here at CTSFW. “There is no way that the spiritual needs of our residents could ever hope to be met if we did not have her with us. This young woman truly embodies the vocation of service to the Lord’s people, and we are blessed that she is among us.”

He went on:

So what, exactly, does a deaconess do? Anna Miels, Deaconess Intern at Lutheran Home and Harwood Place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, could provide a ready answer to that question, if she would take a minute from her work during the current COVID-19 situation. So I, her supervisor, will speak on her behalf.

A deaconess in a mercy-based ministry, such as a health care center, spends hours each day visiting our residents on a one-to-one basis. She often is the only visitor that a resident will have who is there simply to provide comfort and companionship. Families are currently restricted from all visits, and staff members are overwhelmed due to absence of fellow workers. The deaconess is that one-on-one assurance that person in his/her humanity is important, valued, and cherished, not only by our Lord but by fellow members of the Church of Christ.

The deaconess answers requests to be with a resident who is actively dying, whose family is not able to be present, whether because of virus restrictions or distance from each other. She prays with and for the resident, reads the words of Scripture and offers prayers for peace and comfort during the transition from this world to our Lord’s presence. She may be the last person to speak a work of hope, to hold a hand in comfort, to ease the loneliness that often accompanies death.

The deaconess answers the call to bring a word of comfort to someone suffering through depression and hopelessness. She is there when a person is isolated by a new routine when they arrive here, or when a resident loses a child or grandchild to death. She is with the individual in their loss and hurt, bearing the burden of pain and fear with them as she speaks of Christ, His love and presence, and the hope that He brings of restoration.

The deaconess provides for the needs of the staff by taking upon herself extra duties so that staff members can rest and find some refreshment for their spirit. She may serve meals in resident dining rooms, help with resident hygiene, or make deliveries of clean clothing and supplies from families who cannot go past the front desk. She calls the families of residents she has visited, giving them the assurance that their loved one is cared for, that the resident has an advocate in the facility even though family cannot be there. She goes above and beyond to meet the needs of God’s people as they develop in real time.

The deaconess expands her offering of Bible classes and devotions to comply with orders restricting the number of people who can gather. Her number of events may go from two to six in a week, and she is there with kindness and compassion as she delivers the Word of God and the hope of the Gospel to those in her care. She may be asked, at a moment’s notice, to develop a series of devotions to include in a weekly devotion booklet, so that people can have a spiritual resource that speaks to their current fears and situation. She may arrive early and stay late so that she can enter her care notes in residents’ individual records, having spent her regular eight hour schedule in direct personal care of the residents, her duties and events having expanded due to the current crisis.

In short, the deaconess is an extension of the chapel, the visible reminder of the presence and love of God in Christ. Her hands, her voice, her skills all seek to serve the Lord by bringing comfort, meaning, and peace to his people as they experience the cares and fears of a fallen world. She is the servant of her Lord, seeking only to bring comfort to His people. She is a great resource to the Church, and a blessing to any ministry to which she is attached.

DMin Defenses (Spring Quarter)

We’ve had three Doctor of Ministry (DMin) defenses at CTSFW this past quarter. The DMin Program is designed for the working pastor, and their dissertations always reflect a topic or project that will serve their particular parish or synod in service to the Church. All three men gracious introduced themselves, spoke about their dissertation topics (all of which you can see are tied into who they are and where they serve), and what the DMin Program meant to them. In alphabetical order:

Rev. Peter Elliott; Associate Pastor, Saint John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI
The Plan of Salvation: A Fifteen-Week Christological Survey of the Scriptures for Saint John Lutheran Fraser, Michigan

Rev. Peter Elliott

“I’m a lifelong Lutheran. I was born in Ft. Wayne as my father Mark was graduating CTSFW in 1984. From my earliest memory I’ve wanted to be a pastor. My older sister Christy Rivers is a teacher at Faith Lutheran in Plano, TX, where she attends with her husband Matt. My older brother Paul Elliott is ordained, serving as a professor at Concordia Irvine, and his wife Krista teaches at St. John Orange. My younger sister Sarah lives in Dallas, where her husband, Adam Douthwaite, serves as a pastor at Our Redeemer. We all live within the LCMS bubble. I am married to my wonderful wife, Valerie, and we have 7 children: Elijah, Daniel, Isaiah, Grace, Moses, Hannah, and one in the womb.

“Since fall 2017, I’ve served as the associate pastor of St. John Lutheran Church and School in Fraser, MI. Fraser is north/northeast of Detroit, and St. John is a traditional congregation known for its school and excellent music, led by organist Mel Machemer. The congregation is about two-thirds ages 45 and younger, and we have about 600 in attendance each weekend.

“Many of the newest members come from unchurched backgrounds, which is exciting, but it has also caused difficulties. Even after attending our catechetical new member class, biblical literacy is often lacking. Therefore, I was charged with creating and leading a 15-week overview of the Bible for new members. This became my DMin project. The class covered the general content of each book of the Bible, the centrality of Christ, and Law and Gospel. The overall goal was to increase the participants desire to attend future congregational Bible studies.

“The feedback from the class—as reported through surveys and focus groups—was overwhelmingly positive. The participants were surprised by the connections between various books of the Bible and between the two testaments. The participants especially found joy in seeing Christ in the Old Testament. Bible study habits have improved, and new members have craved pastoral instruction, even during this pandemic. Through teaching the 15-week course, I became interested in the topic of typology, and so the dissertation includes an excursus on Christ types of the Old Testament.

“I would highly recommend the DMin program at CTSFW, and I’ll miss intensive courses because of the fellowship and the time I was given to attend chapel. The seminary has refreshed me for ministry in Christ’s Church.”

Rev. Jeffrey Goodman; Pastor, Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, ELCA, Ephrata, PA
The Mid-Week Divine Service: Its Theology, History, Usage and Implementation in a Lutheran Parish Church

Rev. Jeffrey Goodman’s defense, captured via Zoom. Rev. Goodman is in the bottom window. Top row, left to right: Rev. Petersen, Dr. Grime, Dr. Grobien (Director of the DMin Program); Middle row, left to right: Dr. Koontz, Dr. Weinrich, Dr. Just.

“I came into The Lutheran Church through attending a Wednesday Divine Service. To be able to receive our Lord’s Word and Sacrament in the middle of the week was a great comfort to me. So when I received a call to serve a small, struggling Lutheran parish in Lancaster County, PA, I was charged early on with developing a second service. The common assumption was that we would add another service to our Sunday, but I remembered how I came into the Lutheran Church through a Divine Service during the week and how others may as well.

“We initially began with a vigil service on Saturdays, but this service after a year never gained traction. At the suggestion of an experienced local pastor we moved the service to Thursday evenings. Over time we were able to build a chapel for the Thursday service and eventually expand our liturgical offerings to other days of the week as well. Moreover, our liturgical calendar expanded when we started placing commemorations on the church’s calendar instead of moving them to Sundays. The second half of the paper chronicles this history.

“The first part of the paper explores the biblical evidence for having services outside of the Sunday assembly. It also looks at how the mid-divine service was used in the early church and up to the Reformation. From that I explored how the mid-week Divine Service has been used in my own tradition here in Pennsylvania through examinations of Heinrich Muhlenberg, and his heirs in the General Council of which the parish I serve was once a part. I do consider the Sabbatarian arguments made by SS. Schmucker and his Gettysburg/General Synod colleagues. Finally, three churches from the same “Muhlenberg tradition” were examined to see how they have used the mid-week divine service in their lives together.

“Because of the mid-week Divine Service, the small parish I serve has seen growth not only in numbers, but in its life together. We went from being a church that only gathered on Sunday to being a church that gathers multiple times during the week. I believe this is essential to forming a resilient, long lasting Lutheran parish church. It has also made me a better preacher simply by requiring me to prepare for more than one sermon a week. I find myself preaching two, three, and even four times a week. This makes for a more effective preacher of the Word in my mind.

“The DMin Program at CTSFW has been wonderful. I am leaving the program a much more confident and informed pastor. I have come to understand to a deeper degree what it means to be called by a parish. In my mind there is no better place for a Lutheran pastor to study then CTSFW. I am not LCMS and I was welcomed by my fellow students and teachers, but I was also challenged by them to think through my own tradition, the nature of a call, and what it means to be a faithful Lutheran pastor.”

Rev. Wade Mobley; President, Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary)
Sharper: A Proposal for Continuing Education within the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations

Rev. Wade Mobley’s (top right) DMin defense via Zoom Meeting. To his left is Dr. Grobien, Director of the DMin Program. In the bottom row, left to right: Dr. Pulse and Prof. Pless.

“The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations has no specific scope or delivery method for continuing education for her pastors. I serve as the President of our Bible College and Seminary, so I am in a position to advocate and provide for this continuing education. My project focused on finding out what/how our men are educating themselves, what their needs are for continued sharpening, and how we can best augment our MDiv program.

“The outcome of the project was a theologically-focused aim for continuing education that uses existing and yet-to-be developed means for formal and informal continuing education. The irony, though, is that the week I submitted my dissertation the whole world shut down, our summer opportunities are much in doubt, and planning for next fall seems presumptuous to our constituency. That said, this too shall pass, and I will put our plan into practice 6-12 months later than stated.

“I am thankful for the DMin program at CTSFW. I started the program shortly after accepting the call to leave my congregational ministry of twelve years to serve as President of the Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary (the Bible College and Seminary of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, AFLC). The program was academically rigorous, but also logistically accessible. The courses were well designed and the instructors highly qualified. Dr. Gifford Grobien and Mrs. Cynthia Johnson administered the program with efficiency and friendliness. Though I serve outside of the LCMS, I enjoyed the fellowship of Christian brothers in class, on campus, and online. My capacity for ministry quality and quantity increased in my time of study, and I will forever be thankful for the quality education offered by CTSFW for the benefit of our institution and the AFLC.”

You can learn more about the DMin Program at www.ctsfw.edu/DMin, or by contacting the CTSFW Office of Graduate Studies at [email protected] or (260) 452-2203.

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).

2020 Academic Awards

Today after chapel, Dr. Charles Gieschen, Academic Dean, presented the annual academic awards at CTSFW. You can still watch the presentation at the end of today’s daily chapel service either here on Facebook or at www.ctsfw.edu/dailychapel. Fourth-year seminarian and Student Association President Jonah Domenichelli served as master of ceremonies. At the end of the service, fourth-year seminarian Mark Kranz presented the 2020 Class Gift: “Apostolic Agenda: The Epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul to Titus and Philemon.” The translation of this work by Friedrich Balduin was commissioned and funded by this year’s fourth years. You can find a copy at https://emmanuelpress.us/2020/05/05/coming-soon-apostolic-agenda-the-epistles-of-the-holy-apostle-paul-to-titus-and-philemon


The St. Timothy Award: Silas Hasselbrook

The Zondervan Greek Award: Gino Marchetti II

The Zondervan Hebrew Award: Zachary Oedewaldt

The Exegetical Theology Writing Award: Blake Martzowska

The Classical Association of the Middle West and South Award for Outstanding Accomplishment: Alexander Blanken

The Draves Family Scholarship: Joshua Schiff

The Zondervan Theology Award: Christian Schultz

The Systematic Theology Writing Award: Gino Marchetti II

The Gerhard Aho Homiletics Award: Kyle Nelson

The Pastoral Ministry and Missions Writing Award: Daniel Gray

The Historical Theology Writing Award: Jonathan Olson


The Elizabeth Fedde Award for Outstanding Service (presented by Dr. James Bushur): Anna Barger and Kimberly Wolkenhauer

The Shepherd’s Staff Award (presented by Seminarian Jonah Domenichelli): Brett Witmer

Commemoration: Friedrich Wyneken

Today is the Commemoration of Friedrich Wyneken. In today’s sermon, Rev. Bob Smith, one of our librarians who specializes in archives and history, referenced the letter from a St. Paul, Fort Wayne, elder, pleading for a pastor, following the death of their own young pastor in 1838. His plea would bring Wyneken to the area.

You can download a copy of the translated letter here: http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/SuelflowSendusafaithfulShepherd.pdf, which includes notes and explanations. The translated text of the letter has also been copied and pasted below:

Fort Wayne, June 4th, 1838

I write with tears in my eyes and with a trembling hand to inform you that on May 23, at 8 o’clock in the morning, it pleased the almighty Lord of life and death to call into eternity our beloved Pastor, J[esse]. Hoover, at the age of 28. The deceased was bedridden for about 12 days, but had been in failing health for a longer period. Nevertheless, he pursued his calling with tireless zeal, for nothing, even in his illness, was more dear to him than his congregation. I visited him several times. When I visited him the first time in the company of several brothers, he asked me to read, for his personal edification, a chapter from the Bible. We read the 4th chapter of Acts, after which we prayed, and then we departed. When I visited him the next time, his illness had progressed to the point where he could no longer converse. On the morning of his death he did not recognize me. He died a blessed death, completely in the faith.

We buried him, our teacher, with love and thanksgiving, according to German order [Ordnung]. In the church the congregation sang: “After Trial-Shortened Days.” The procession following the casket was greater than had ever been seen in Ft. Wayne – a tribute to the love and esteem in which he was held, even by the enemies of Christianity and the Church. He was a good man. At the grave we sang the hymn: “All Men Living Are But Mortal.” After this I encouraged the congregation to remain unified so we will not be destroyed. The funeral sermon was preached in English by Mr. Baal, a Methodist minister, because no German preacher lived within miles of this area. If an English Pastor had died, it might have been possible for someone else to fulfill that duty. There is no one here among the German immigrants to preach the words of eternal life. For that reason, have pity, honored fathers and brothers and send us a Pastor. Not only the congregation in Ft. Wayne, but also a seemingly strong congregation in Adams County, Indiana mourns the loss of the deceased. If you canvas the northern part of Indiana you will soon see how important it is that you send us a faithful Shepherd. The harvest is great but unfortunately there are no workers. If it is not possible to send us a Pastor, dear brothers, then send us a circuit rider [Reiseprediger]. We hunger and thirst for the Word of God.

We heard that it was resolved at the conference in 1837 to hold the next conference in Ft. Wayne. I hope you do not change your resolve because Pr. Hoover has been called from us. Coming here you would be better able to assess our situation.

Remember us in your prayers, and cause a sigh to ascend the throne of grace in our behalf that the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ Himself might build us up and encourage us in our most holy faith, and comfort us with His help, and may the Holy Spirit sustain us. Greet all the brothers in Christ Jesus. Grace, peace, and blessing to the members of the honorable Synod.

Written by order of the church council at Ft. Wayne,

Adam Wesel

Call Day: We Had Hoped

Now faith is the assurance of the things hoped, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

On March 12, President Rast chose, with the input of the Seminary’s leadership team, to move to online delivery of education for the beginning of the spring quarter. “As the weeks are turning into months, I can tell you that I have never made a more difficult or disappointing decision,” said the Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. on April 30, in his sermon at the combined 2020 Vicarage and Deaconess Intern and Placement and 2020 Call Service at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW). “Our congregations have, in many cases, not been able to meet, or have done so under the most difficult circumstances. We grow impatient to be together, and understandably so, for it is toward evening and the day is almost over.”

And yet he also could, and with joy, open the service with this familiar greeting: “Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, Alleluia.”

The story of the Seminary’s perhaps most unique Call Night—the pews empty, the entire congregation, save for five faculty members conducting the service in Kramer Chapel, online—is one that can be told best in their own words. “Things have changed dramatically over the past several weeks for all of us—that is certainly evident in the empty pews that are in this chapel,” Dr. Rast continued in his opening greeting. “Yet even now, as we prepare to send out new vicars, deaconess interns and candidates, and pastors, much is the same.”

Thousands in the Church joined the service from the world over, from all 50 states alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ across six continents. This year’s 40 pastoral candidates watched the service on a combined Zoom Meeting, which was shown at times throughout the Vespers service.

In his sermon, Dr. Rast preached on the Emmaus passage from Luke 24:13-35. From verse 21:

“We had hoped.” The finality of the disciples’ words is overwhelming. All they had worked for, hoped for, prepared for over the course of a number of years was now ended, finished. Their hopes were wrecked, their dreams unrealized, their expectations dashed…

Yet as they trudge along, they are joined by an unrecognized companion who engages them in what may be the most ironic conversation recorded in all of the Scriptures. Ironic because we know who He is and what the outcome will be. But our downcast disciples are kept from recognizing their friend…But why? Why could they not recognize him? And the answer is simply this: so Jesus could reveal himself to them in the midst of their human weakness and within the context of their profound challenges, as He always does through the Scriptures and the breaking of the bread…

We [too] had hoped. We—students, families, congregations, staff, faculty—we are the disappointed disciples this evening. This sanctuary was supposed to be full; full of pastoral and deaconess candidates, vicars and interns, their family, friends, all expectantly waiting for news of pastoral calls, deaconess placements, vicarage assignments, deaconess internships. There is no noisier place on this campus than this chapel before Call Service every year. Tonight, it is silent. Yes, there’s a skeleton crew (I use the language intentionally), who sends this service out to a scattered community that is still largely sheltering in place, but it is not what we hoped for.

Our feet drag as we plod through a quarter unlike any in the nearly 175 year history of this school. We trudged into this virtual call service that lacks the fulfillment only a gathered community can provide. Where previously there had been hopeful anticipation, now there is disappointment. “And they stood still, looking sad.” That could be us.

But it cannot be us. Because we have hope. We hope because we know and believe the outcome of Jesus’ story. We know that Christ is risen: he is risen indeed! Alleluia. Tonight is different, no doubt. There has never been a call night, vicarage assignment, deaconess placement and internship service like this. We expected something quite different. We had hoped we could do things the way we had traditionally done them. But no. Still, tonight is no different than those other nights in this most important respect: for 174 years, Christ has called men to pastoral service in his name; he will do so again in mere moments. Christ has formed servants for service in his name and diaconal positions. He continues to do so. Christ continues to form servants through vicarages and internships. This very night the work of Christ continues. He is faithful.

The Rev. Dr. Gary W. Zieroth, Director of Vicarage, announced vicarages for 34 Master of Divinity (MDiv) students and one Alternate Route student. “Dear brothers in Christ,” he began, “As you hear your names called, remember the words from Deuteronomy 31:6: ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.’”

Four deaconess internships were announced, as were two deaconess placements. In his introduction before their distribution, the Rev. Dr. James G. Bushur, Director of Deaconess Studies, explained the role of deaconesses in the Church:

The Gospel of divine mercy does not begin with God speaking, but with His hearing. Mercy begins when He hears the blood of Abel crying out from the dirt; when He hears the desperate pleas of His children in Egyptian bondage; when He hears the groans of Jonah from the belly of the fish. Indeed, dear friends, the joy that is ours this Easter season is found in the intercessory blood of Jesus, which speaks better things than that of Abel. Indeed, it is this blood that even now continues to speak before the father ever moving Him toward mercy.

And so it is for this reason that we count it a great blessing on this campus to participate in the formation of both pastors and deaconesses. If pastors are called to speak, deaconesses are formed to hear, to be—shall we say—the ears of God. The deaconess vocation is about perceiving the need of our neighbor, and in responding to those needs with the salutary fellowship of Christ’s body the Church. And so deaconesses serve so that the cries of the aborted and the abused, the afflicted, the hungry, the lonely, the oppressed, and the sick are heard by the Church, a hearing which then comes before our heavenly Father and invites His mercy. How profound the need for this vocation is in our day.

The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey H. Pulse finished the night’s distributions with the announcement of 40 pastoral calls. “So where does one begin?” he asked. “I spent considerable time, which I seem to have a bit of right now, trying to sort out the beginning of this address. ‘It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.’ Already been done. ‘These are extraordinary times we find ourselves in.’ Already been overdone. ‘Even though we cannot be together, in fact, we are always united in spirit.’ Blah, blah blah…

The most important realities have not changed at all. The Church still needs workers in the harvest field. The congregations still need pastors to carry out Word and Sacrament ministry. The Seminary still needs to get rid of you so we can bring in another class. And because these things do not—have not—changed, I have good news for our Church Body, good news for your Seminary, and really good news for all of you: all 40 students who are ready to be placed are receiving a call this evening…

This year, there are 36 MDiv candidates and four Alternate Route candidates from our Seminary for a total of 40, and 52 MDiv candidates and four Alternate Route candidates from our sister seminary in St. Louis. Combine this with SMP, CHS, CMCEIIT—those students—then we have a total of 103 candidates: 96 MDiv and Alternate Route. There were 129 calls available for us and 100 calls extended, as well as one for a colloquy candidate. That leaves 28 calls available and not used. This is actually a few more than last year, so the need for pastors continues. We would ask for your prayers, of course, for those congregations not receiving a candidate at this time.

As always, the announcements of the pastoral calls ended with the Charge to the Candidates for the Holy Ministry. These 40 men rose from where they were sheltering in place, standing in apartments and houses and churches across the nation. “Go then, take heed unto thyself and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made thee overseer,” Dr. Rast began the charge, finishing with, “The Lord bless thee from on high, and make thee a blessing unto many, that thou mayest bring forth fruit and that thy fruit may remain unto eternal life. Amen.”

The answering, “Amens!” were scattered by the technological challenges of syncing 40 voices separated by distance, but spoken in the same truth and promise as those in every generation of pastors in the 173 years before them. Thanks be to God!

To re-watch the service, view the map for where these 81 men and women are headed, and to access the pdf lists for the 2020 Vicarage Placements, Deaconess Internships, Pastoral Calls, and Deaconess Placements, go to https://callday.ctsfw.edu.

A Silent Kramer Chapel

By Jason L. Iwen, Assistant to the Chief Information Officer at CTSFW and Second-Year MDiv Student; he was in Kramer Chapel on Call Night to help with recording directions for the faculty and kantors.

Peter Scaer said that an empty chapel is hard on the eyes. A silent chapel is just as hard on the ears.

If you’ve ever been in Kramer Chapel on call night, you know that it is anything but silent before the service begins. The room is filled with energy as old friends greet one another. Family members discuss the possibility of being placed near a beach or mountains. Professors joke with them that they will instead end up in rural Nebraska or the frozen tundra of North Dakota. Laughter and joy-filled conversation—this is what Kramer Chapel is supposed to sound like before the call service begins. This year, however, was much different. This year, silence is what surrounded the eight of us who were physically in Kramer Chapel for the service. The difference between this night and all previous call nights was striking.

In the chancel: Dr. Grime lights the candles. He does so in silence.

In the pulpit: Dr. Rast stands awaiting my cue to begin his words of introduction and welcome. He stands in silence.

In the aisle near the baptismal font: Dr. Bushur (who is holding the crucifix), Dr. Pulse, and Dr. Zieroth all wait for the appointed time to begin the procession. They stand in silence.

In the choir loft: Kantor Hildebrand sits at the organ console, and Kantor Machemer stands ready for the service to begin. They, too, wait in silence.

Certainly, there are brief conversations as the appointed time approaches. Mostly, though, it is the silence that crowds my memory—because silence is not what should be filling Kramer Chapel on this night.

We finally get a reprieve from the silence. The clock strikes seven, and the service begins with Dr. Rast’s opening remarks, followed by the processional hymn. Those of us in the chapel are able to hear the hymn, even though it isn’t happening live in that space. And the room is filled once again with the glorious sounds of music made by the saints of God. I close my eyes and envision the room full of people, as we all had hoped it would be on this night.

To be sure, many of the other parts of the service do not fill the chapel with the sound we are all accustomed to hearing. But at least it isn’t silent. The Word of God is proclaimed through the reading of Scripture and through Dr. Rast’s wonderful sermon. It is also proclaimed in song, and the music is wonderful to my ears—even when it is not happening live in the chapel. When the hearts of all God’s faithful children from around the entire country – indeed, the entire world – join together with those of us praying in the chapel, those prayers rise as incense before God, and we know that He hears them.

During all of these portions of the service, the silence is gone, and Kramer Chapel sounds a little bit like it should on call night.

When the reading of names and placements commences, however, the silence returns. Each time a name is read, it is followed by silence. I know that the reason for this silence is to allow time for those viewing the service from home to see the person who has just been named, and where they are being sent. Not having that visual, though, I am only able to see the silence. As the announcements continue from vicarages – to deaconess internships – to deaconess placements – to candidate calls, the silence intensifies and becomes almost deafening. It intensifies to the point that I can almost touch it.

There is a part of me that wishes that I had been able to see the video of this service as it was happening. But I know that I was where I needed to be for this event. Making this service a reality took a team of people—each of us in a different role and all of us doing our very best to make it the best that it could possibly be. We had many reasons to set the bar so high. We wanted this to be a special service for all those men and women receiving placements, and for their families. We wanted this to be a special service for the congregations receiving vicars, deaconess interns and deaconesses, and pastors. Above all, we wanted God to be glorified in this service. I believe He blessed those efforts, and I feel truly privileged and blessed to have been a part of it!

I have now seen the video of the service. The visual difference in the full procession of all previous years fading into the minimal 2020 procession is striking. As Dr. Scaer said, an empty chapel is hard on the eyes. Being inside the chapel, the difference in sound was just as striking. A silent Kramer Chapel is hard on the ears.

Jason Iwen took some additional photos for the chapel, as well as a few selfies (he was under orders to, by command of the social media manager—me). Here’s one of them. He’s on a headset with our video lead, John Elmer, as his job was to cue the faculty and kantors when it was time for them to begin the next part of the service.

A Holy Haunting

This photo was taken last night by Kantor Kevin Hildebrand, texted with the caption: “Fyi…a view from the organ bench tonight.”

Some reflections from Dr. Peter J. Scaer, Professor and Chairman of Exegetical Theology here at CTSFW, on Call Day and Night (pulled, with permission, from his personal Facebook page):

I can tell you where history ends, and so can the men of Concordia Theological Seminary. Tonight, we celebrate call night, as our men find out the fields in which they will labor and sow the gospel seeds. To be sure, this night is historic, in that the service will be online. The technological revolution in service of a message that turns the world upside down.

These men are being called to preach the one who is Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. They are being sent to proclaim the Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world. They are being called to tell the world that the one whom the prophets foretold did indeed come. This is Emanuel, God in the flesh, who lived for us, and died for us, who rose again from the dead, and who will, soon, very soon return.

Where does history lead? It leads to Christ, the one through whom this universe was created, the one who put the stars in the sky, the fish in the sea, and the animals on the face of the earth. The one who created us in his image, and fulfilled his promise to redeem us, that we might be one with him…

An empty chapel is hard on the eyes.

On the other hand, those present were surrounded by angels and archangels and a great company of emojis, from east and west. Goldilocks would have found the sermon just right. Expressing the disappointment, but true joy, President Rast hit the nail on the head. We had hoped. But hope is alive in Christ…

But the highlight of the night? The presence of students, if even at a distance. Enough to bring tears, so beautiful, so poignant. Man, has our seminary been blessed by their presence. When they sang, it was a little piece of heaven…Tonight the chapel was haunted by the Holy Spirit. The pews were empty, but the Spirit of Christ was present, and we knew it. A little sadness, to be sure, but so much that was so sweet.

You can read both of his full reflections here (which includes some direct thank yous to the specific men who made last night possible):

Before Call Night: https://www.facebook.com/pjscaer/posts/10163495600980252
Following Call Service: https://www.facebook.com/pjscaer/posts/10163499260410252

Call Candidates

Here are the Call candidates for this year, starting with the top row, going left to right:

1st row: Jakob and Rachel Andrzejewski; Christopher and Karin Antonetti; Tyler Arends; Albert and Gretyl Bader; Patrick and Whitney Baldwin

2nd row: Norlyn and Elaine Bartens; Daniel and Teresa Broaddus; Lyle (wife Christine isn’t pictured) Buettner; Jon and Shannon Carpenter; Jared and Anna Cooksey

3rd row: Simeon and Emily Cornwell; Jonah and Renee Domenichelli; Keith and Farrah Emshoff; Robert Etheridge; Daniel Fickenscher and Taylor Brown-Fickenscher

4th row: Scott and Zara Hedtke; Jeffrey and Haley Kazmierski; David and Mikayla Keating; Andrew and Maggie Keller; Mark and Bethany Kranz

5th row: Kurt Laskowsy; Timothy and Mary Magill; Gino Marchetti II; Mark and Debra Matheny

6th row: Joseph McCalley; Sawyer and Rebecca Meyers; Zachary and Amber Oedewaldt; Jonathan and Marie Olson; Joshua and Megan Reber; Brock Schmeling

7th row: Daniel and Christine Schuetz; Timothy and Kaitlin Sheridan; Grant and Kimberly Sorenson; Titus and Rianne Utecht; Thomas and Elizabeth Van Hemert

8th row: Jay Weideman; Nathan Wille; Isaac and Bethany Wirtz; Brett Witmer; Justin and Victoria Woodside