Convocation: Life Issues (Abortion)

During today’s convocation, Dr. William Lile, OB/GYN from Florida, spoke on the topic of life issues as they pertain to abortion. Dr. Lile has served as both Chair of a hospital and instructor at a university and in a medical school. From his website

“In 1999 he took over a practice that was also the largest provider of abortion services in Pensacola. All abortion services and abortion referrals were stopped on day 1. The abortionist retired and left the country. The abortion equipment is now used to demonstrate the brutality of abortions performed in all 3 trimesters. The tools of modern obstetrics are used to demonstrate the life and personhood of the unborn. Babies in the womb are viewed as patients, abortion is never the right ‘choice’, and forgiveness is available to ALL through the blood of Jesus Christ.”

He spoke on the subject especially in light of the fact that the preborn (as he refers to babies in the womb) are viewed and treated, in his profession, as patients. If they’re patients, then that means they’re persons. And if a person, then they deserve protection.

Dr. Lile was born into a Christian family, whose parents taught him pro-life values. After he finished his residency, the OB/GYN took over a practice in the Pensacola area that also quietly operated as the largest provider of abortion services in the area, and had since the 70s.

From that day, the abortions stopped. There was no major backlash in the community (much like the concentrations camps in WWII, people turn their eyes away and do not look), and he realized that many people didn’t know what was going on behind those doors, once you walked up the stairs to the second floor. He now uses the equipment left behind to demonstrate the brutality of abortion.

Though his most well-known presentations involve these demonstrations (his first presentation was at his own church, but now he’s a nationally renowned speaker and his YouTube videos have hundreds of thousands views, which you can find by searching for “Lile abortion” and “abortion demonstration”), today he spoke primarily on chemical abortions and, borrowing from Dr. Seuss, that “A patient’s a person no matter how small.”

Chemical abortions are largely unreported, which he calculated amounted to 20% of abortions that are being done. The two main abortifacients are RU486 (a progesterone blocker which, by blocking the hormone that tells your body it’s pregnant, induces a menstrual cycle), and methotrexate, which is used in the treatment of cancer to attack rapidly dividing cells. It is 98% effective.

Reversals are now possible for both of these chemicals. So far, over 100 abortions have been reversed by flooding the body with progesterone following the ingestion of RU486, and a paper has been published and accepted on the findings, which means that ERs can now tell patients about the reversal option if they come in and ask for an abortion reversal.

As to the methotrexate, only four reversals have been done in the world. Dr. Lile performed one of them. An engaged couple were talked into an abortion after going to Planned Parenthood for advice, and both were hit with deep regret as soon as they got back to their car. The young woman was a nursing student, and when they got home she immediately began googling abortion reversal and was then connected to Dr. Lile (who lived in their area) through the website He called around to the pharmacies in the area, and finally found one carrying the drug he needed.

When he explained the dosage and directions, the pharmacist suddenly got suspicious. “Are you trying to reverse an abortion?”

He hesitated, but decided he needed to be bold. “Yes I am.”

“Oh sweetie, I’m going to take care of her.”

He wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but the young woman got her prescription just fine. The next day, when she spoke with him, she explained that he had sent her to the strangest pharmacy she had ever gone to. The pharmacist had come out from behind the counter and given her a hug. “And,” the young woman added, “the pharmacist had paid for the medication herself.”

Dr. Lile then spoke on the treatment of the preborn, which makes them patients and thus persons. This isn’t new; prenatal testing began in the 60s, not to look for reasons to abort but to diagnose problems and treat them. Now the medical capabilities are incredible. These include prenatal blood transfusions, intrauterine medications (injected directly into the amniotic fluid so as not to affect the mother), and fetal cardiac surgery at 20-22 weeks gestation.

In fact, if a doctor fails to diagnose these developmental issues in the preborn, then he can be sued for millions of dollars for failing to save the baby. So clearly there is recognized value there.

Delayed Interval Delivery. It has happened that two identical twins were born months apart – one in June and the other in August (early delivery, had to live in the NICU; kept the other baby in mother’s womb, which is an even better, more effective NICU; “It’s not ‘your body,’” Dr. Lile pointed out. “’Your body’ is an amazing life support system” for another’s.).

But according to Washington D.C. and the eight states that do not put a cap on gestational age for abortions, one identical twin has rights and protections while the other doesn’t. Because of location, the purposefully caused death of one twin would be murder, and the other a legal termination of a pregnancy.

Dr. Lile took questions after the presentation. Dr. Fickenscher asked how his fellow doctors could perform surgery with one hand and abortions with the other, as is so often the case.

“You’ve got to have a cold heart,” Dr. Lile answered. “It’s not a choice. It’s a spiritual battle.” It’s not the first time in the history of the world that we’ve sacrificed children on the altars of idols. ““Why do I do this?” he added, speaking of his presentations and his passion for the pro-life movement. “Because it’s my peers performing these abortions.”

Dr. Grobien asked what the church’s future workers could do – her pastors and deaconesses – to assist in the battle.

“Talk about it in church,” he said, finding that many people have never heard their pastor speak about abortion from the pulpit. Since it’s a spiritual battle, he spoke on how our weapon in this fight is the Word of God. He also touched on a life apologetics course for men (to both minister to their own losses as well as to educate and train them as they are meant to be the defenders), which he held in Pensacola. Dr. Lile’s main message:

Is abortion a sin? Yes.
Is it an unforgivable sin? No.

A man came up to him afterwards, to tell the story of his first grandchild. Years ago the man had taken his pregnant, 17-year-old daughter to the clinic (in fact, the very clinic which Dr. Lile later took over) for an abortion. He briefly saw his first grandchild on the ultrasound, a sight which did not stop him from paying to terminate the pregnancy, but one which has haunted him since.

His first grandchild and, as it turns out, his only grandchild. “Oh, I have paid for it,” he said to Dr. Lile. Since then he’d also felt that he could never go to God to ask for forgiveness because it was such a vile sin. But that simple, scriptural message (Is it unforgivable? No.) drove him to repentance. His burden was lifted.

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:14)
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Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me…

Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51:5, 9-12)

Prof. Ryan Tietz Earns PhD

Dr. Ryan Tietz teaches a class.

On August 30, the Rev. Professor Ryan M. Tietz became Dr. Tietz, successfully defending his dissertation “The Deliberately Delayed Eschatological Vision: The Hermeneutical and Theological Function of Isaiah 30” and earning his doctorate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. In his dissertation he argued that Isaiah 30 functions as a mirror text for the tension in the delay of salvation, especially in Isaiah 30:18:

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.

Dr. Tietz’s interest in Isaiah goes back to his days as a seminarian, when he took a course on Isaiah 1-39 and discovered how “horribly complex” it is. “I’m convinced Isaiah is bad for your spiritual health,” Dr. Tietz said. “The moment I think I know what’s going on, I discover something new was meant. But seriously, I enjoy getting into the vividness and complexity of Isaiah and his eschatology. One of my biggest interests is how Isaiah moves us from creation to the new creation, and the tension of what it means to wait for God. Frankly,” he added, “that’s what I love about what I do.”

The Assistant Professor of Exegetical Theology first came to Concordia Theological Seminary (CTSFW), Fort Wayne, in 2015. He had been working in Chicago as an interim pastor and adjunct professor at Concordia University Chicago, teaching courses in Theology and Hebrew, when Academic Dean Rev. Dr. Charles A. Gieschen asked if he’d be open to an interview at the Seminary. He’s not the only one who’s happy he said yes. “He’s been a wonderful teacher in Old Testament as well as colleague,” Dr. Gieschen said of Dr. Tietz. “Along with the entire faculty, I rejoice in his successful completion of this Ph.D. program and am confident that his exemplary academic achievements will bear much fruit that will benefit our students and the wider church for many years to come.”

To learn more about Dr. Tietz and to view some of his written work, as well as recordings of his lectionary podcasts and other presentations, click HERE. For more information about all the faculty serving at CTSFW, visit

When writing a news release, a common difficulty is having to edit out some of the details in order to make it fit into a shorter format. On this occasion, I had to cut out much of my short interview with Dr. Tietz on his newly earned PhD. Here’s some of the interview that didn’t make the cut:
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Why did you become a pastor?
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“For the longest time I was convinced I was going to be a lawyer. But I’ve always had an interest in human care and service. Then while studying for my M.Div.” at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis “I was convinced I would do Chinese mission ministry. Then I fell into hospital chaplaincy.”
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Why did you come to work at CTSFW?
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(Laughs) “Because I never wanted to. No sooner was I comfortable at Chicago River Forest when out of nowhere I got an email from Dr. Gieschen asking me to do an interview.”
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He went on (my notes here get a little choppy):
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“It’s been a fun discovery. The academic integrity. In the first year/first faculty meeting I remember thinking ‘What am I doing here?’ Surviving the learning curve was hard. But I couldn’t be happier. I’m still surprised. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I’ve been spoiled rotten. Five years ago I would have laughed if someone told me I was going to be working at CTS and that I’d like it.”
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What is your favorite thing about teaching at CTSFW?
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“Bridging the gap between Old Testament exegesis and pastoral care. I still think of myself as a hospital chaplain.” Note: here in Fort Wayne Dr. Tietz does hospital visits once a month through his local church, Emmanuel. “It’s one thing to do academic theology and another to do practical. We had a discussion in class the other day: how do I preach justice issues? How do I have that conversation in a congregation?”

Collegial Conversation: Leadership & Authority

President Rast held a Collegial Conversation today following chapel. The Collegial Conversations are a quarterly convocation for all MDiv, AR, and deaconess students, in which the president speaks on a topic that will affect students after they leave the Seminary. For the opening quarter of this academic year, Dr. Rast presented on leadership and authority, shaping his talk around the verses of LSB 718:
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“Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won.
Heav’nly leader, still direct us,
Still support, console, protect us,
Till we safely stand
In our fatherland.”
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Dr. Rast pointed out that, for future deaconesses and pastors, “It’s not ‘will I be a leader’ but ‘what kind of leader will I be.’” His practical advice? “Be intentional about it. Use the style that best fits you and don’t fall into the temptation of falling back on authority.” (Such as, “You must listen to me because I am the pastor/deaconess/etc.”) “As soon as you make that statement,” Dr. Rast declared, “your authority is shot because you’ve gone the way of the law.”
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Always the historian (besides his role as President of CTSFW, he also serves as Professor of Historical Theology), Dr. Rast looked back at the 1519 Leipzig Debate to use Martin Luther’s words for where authority rightly comes from; That, “A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.”
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“And, I would add,” Dr. Rast immediately appended, “a pastor or a deaconess.”
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Two years later, in April of 1521, Luther would give his famous Here-I-Stand speech at the Imperial Diet in Worms, again on the issue of authority. “Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves. If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it cannot be either safe or honest for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me! Amen.”
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“Ask yourself,” Dr. Rast went on, speaking of times when leadership and authority is called into question in a ministerial or service setting: “what’s at stake? Me? Or the Word of God? So be very wise.”
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He ended on the Word, and the promises given to us in Jesus Christ; those same promises of mercy, grace, and peace carried by pastors and deaconesses into the world. “God works in and through us, in all the seasons of our lives,” Dr. Rast said. “That’s leadership – to understand your place, your gifts, and the gifts He has given to others. And through it all the Lord’s promise remains true: ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
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After the half-hour talk (only shallowly summarized here), the students got together with their faculty mentors over lunch to discuss the topic of leadership and authority further in light of their unique roles as future pastors and deaconesses.


Saarinen’s Legacy

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

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

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

Lutheranism & the Classics V

Dr. Nordling (far right) speaks with conference attendees.

Lutheranism & the Classics V (“Arguing with the Philosophers”) has officially drawn to a close. The conference takes place every other year, serving as a two-day learning event for those who love the study of theology, the classics, and the classical languages; there was a lot of Latin both cited and quoted throughout the presentations. This year the conference drew over 130 attendees, about 40 of whom were CTSFW students.
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Dr. Nordling, who heads the conference, opened by introducing the first plenary speaker, Dr. Angus Menuge (Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon), who himself introduced this year’s topic by opening with a presentation on the Lutheran philosophy of reason.‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

Dr. Angus Menuge. “You can get a measure of a man by the books he has authored or edited,” Dr. Nordling said of Dr. Menuge, referring to his body of work.

He began by noting that Luther was known to speak harshly against Reason. “Frau Hulda…the devil’s prostitute,” Luther wrote in “Against the Heavenly Prophets (“Frau Hulda” was his way of personifying Reason), “can do nothing else but slander and dishonor what God does and says.”
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However, in the “Disputation Concerning Man,” Luther also acknowledges that, “Philosophy or human wisdom defines man as an animal having reason…And it is certainly true that reason is the most important and the highest in rank among all things… It is the inventor and mentor of all the arts, medicines, laws, and of whatever wisdom, power, virtue, and glory men possess in this life…a kind of god appointed to administer these things in this life. Nor did God after the fall of Adam take away this majesty of reason, but rather confirmed it.”
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Thus we conclude that Luther believed in natural reason, but recognized the limitations in it. That is, that:
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1. Reason can judge earthly matters, but cannot judge in heavenly matters.
2. Reason can know God exists, but it does not know who He is.
3. Reason can argue for God, but (not knowing who He is) constructs idols.
4. Reason can apprehend the basic meaning of Scripture, but it cannot comprehend the mystery nor grasp its promises.
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“Reason is a valuable servant,” Dr. Menuge said, “but it requires the right external input and guidance.”

Dr. Roland Ziegler on “Double Truth? Daniel Hofmann and the Discussion on the Relation of Theology and Philosophy.”

The final keynote presentation by Dr. Roland Ziegler (The Robert D. Preus Associate Professor Systematic Theology and Confessional Lutheran Studies here at CTSFW) also spoke on this question of authority, and the use of reason in religion. You have the philosophers (“The patriarchs of heathens according to carnal wisdom,” Dr. Ziegler described them) who claim that philosophy must interpret Scripture, versus St. Paul, who says the mind must be captive to Scripture. 2 Corinthians 10:5:
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“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
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And so we have a clear answer to our argument with the philosophers. There is value in reason and philosophy, but: “Philosophy,” Dr. Ziegler explained, “has to be in submission to Holy Scriptures.”‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

One of the sectionals taking place in L-7. Dr. C.J. Armstrong (Concordia University, Irvine) presenting his paper “Dear Prudentius: A Classical Contradiction in Beza’s Triumphant Exposition of Predestination Dogma.”

The longer plenary presentation are not available, but you can still access and read the abstracts from the sectionals at Dr. Sarah Byers and Dr. Christian Kopff were the other keynote speakers, though I was unable to attend Dr. Byer’s session to take notes (and Dr. Kopff had to cancel due to health issues; we prayed for him in chapel this morning). You can learn more about all four keynote speakers here:

Convocation: Lutheranism in the UK

There’s a lot of extra learning opportunities on campus this week, from Lutheranism & the Classics (a two-day, bi-annual conference for those interested in the conjunction between theology and the study of classical antiquity) today and tomorrow, to the Christ Academy: Confirmation Retreat coming up this weekend. But the learning first started this week with a convocation on Wednesday, when Dr. Cynthia Lumley, Principal of Westfield House of Theological Studies in Cambridge UK, lectured on “Lutheranism in England.”

‍‍‍‍‍Our former Associate Director of Deaconess Formation, Dr. Lumley makes the trip back to CTSFW nearly every year to talk to the students about studying abroad at Westfield House. Westfield House exists alongside Cambridge, as seminarians in Britain are expected to go to an academic college to earn an academic theology degree, while simultaneously attending a house of their specific denomination, which teaches them their doctrine and how to interpret the things they’re learning in their academic degree. Westfield House is a sister seminary of the LCMS, as we are in partnership with the ELCE (Evangelical Lutheran Church of England).
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The Lutheran presence in the UK is small, as it has always historically been. Great Britain is, in fact, rapidly changing into a mission field for all denominations, with 70% of 16 to 29-year-olds identifying no religious affiliation as secularism becomes the dominant cultural force. Only 5% of the population attends church (25% of whom are Anglican, 22% Catholic, while Lutherans fall into the “other denominations” category).
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Christianity first came to Britain in the early AD’s, with legend claiming that Joseph of Arimathea came to England’s shores in 63 AD. The English hymn “Jerusalem” by William Blake (considered, by many Brits, to be England’s unofficial national anthem) refers to this. The first recorded British Christian was St. Alban, martyred in AD 209, while the oldest archaeological evidence of Christianity is a Chi-Rho wall painting from AD 350. However, much of England fell to paganism for the next couple centuries, though Christianity remained in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. These Christians refused to try and convert the pagan Anglo-Saxons (according to Dr. Lumley they legitimately wanted them to burn in hell), they also did not stand in Augustine’s way when the first archbishop of Canterbury came as a missionary in the 600s, allowing him to reintroduce Christianity to the lost.
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Skipping forward nearly 1,000 years to the introduction of Lutheranism:
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Within four weeks of October 31, 1517, the 95 theses had been smuggled into the east coast ports from Antwerp and were being debated in pubs, particularly by the White Horse Inn Group. Henry the VIII declared Luther a heretic and the pope rewarded him with the title of “Defender of the Faith.” The pope took back the title when Henry VIII broke with Catholicism and declared himself head of the Church of England so that he could divorce his wife, but parliament later voted it back in again. “Defender of the Faith” has been one of the official titles of every ruling monarch since and is on all English coins, generally abbreviated as Fid. Def. or simply F.D.
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Henry VIII had at least one Lutheran Queen and maybe two: Anne of Cleves and possibly Ann Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth I. Elizabeth re-established the Church of England (mother church of Anglicanism), which remains the only protestant faith that has not splintered into separate denominations. However, it has done so by housing many diverse and often opposing beliefs within it. “Because it tries to be everything to everyone,” Dr. Lumley explained, “the Church of England has no clear statement of faith.”
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However, the Augsburg Confession can be found in the 39 Articles of the Church of England; five of the articles are almost identical to the Augsburg Confession and another 11 are rewritten versions. Furthermore, the Anglican forms of communion, marriage, confirmation, baptism, and burial were influenced by early Lutheran orders.
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The first official Lutheran church in Britain began in 1672, and 17 years later the Toleration Act of 1689 permitted the existence of Protestant groups outside of the Church of England as long as they accepted the doctrine of the Trinity. There was actually a Lutheran King as well: George I in 1714, who was, by royal duty, simultaneously the head of the Church of England. He spoke German and no English, and his presence brought a lot of German immigrants into the court. Lutheranism became the third most common religion at court, though it remained foreign to the common people. By 1728, there were five Lutheran churches in London.
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As to the history of the ELCE (Dr. Lumley added, with some amusement, that at every conference their two congregations in Scotland and Wales try to vote “England” out of the Synod’s official name), began on January 1, 1954, though it can trace its roots back to 1896 and six German bakers. These six founders asked Concordia Seminary in St. Louis for a pastor, each of them pledging a fifth of their weekly 25 shillings pay to support him. They were members of the LCMS Atlantic District from 1911-1954, until they were able to establish their own Synod in 1954 with the help of the LCMS. Rev. Norman Nagel was installed as their first pastor on January 3, 1954.
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Rev. Nagel had been called to the ELCE to Cambridge to get a Ph.D. and to establish a seminary. He managed to obtain prime Cambridge property for Westfield House by following a rumor. He had heard that a professor was thinking of retiring and so boldly knocked on the man’s door to ask if this were true. He invited Rev. Nagel in for tea (“Apart from the pub,” Dr. Lumley noted, “all the best conversations happen over tea.”) and agreed to sell the property to the church. Though the doctor later received several higher offers, he stuck by his original promise. Westfield House’s first chapel was a shed some of the students cleaned out.
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At this present time, the ELCE has 14 congregations, 6 missions, and about 800 members spread across the UK. Their 11 pastors hail from 9 different countries, and many of their students come to Westfield House through study abroad programs. Westfield House is a training center for those who have no seminary, including African and East Europe.
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The Lutheran church in the UK faces a lot of struggles because of its small size. There are vacant pulpits – not simply because of a lack of pastors, but because of a lack of funds – and pastors often take on dual parishes. Challenges that face Lutheranism in the UK includes:
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1. Historically, Germans were persona non-grata after both wars, and Lutheranism is – or, perhaps more accurately, WAS – seen as a German denomination.

2. Size. Their small numbers outreach difficult.

3. Lutheran worship does not feel familiar. ELCE churches’ use the LSB as their hymnal, which means even the spelling of Savior (Saviour) is immediately foreign and unfamiliar to their eyes; it seems like a small thing, but it’s not.

4. The deeply British value of toleration, which has been taken so far that it’s almost becoming intolerant to Christianity.
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On September 25, 2010, following the Dedication of Luther Hall, Dr. Norman Nagel wrote the following to his “Dear Friends of Westfield House”:
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“How super abundant are our Lord’s blessings. He brought us through the lean years when some people were willing to let Westfield House die. But the faithful staff and loyal Friends of Westfield House held on. And today we celebrate the lives of our Lord will bless through their lodging and studying in this building. My heart is with you with overflowing and joyful gratitude.”
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Thanks be to God for His faithfulness. It was a pleasure to have you with us, Dr. Lumley, to teach us about the history of Lutheranism in the UK, and to help us to better know our brothers and sisters in Great Britain. Thank you!

ILC Conference: Rast Presentation

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

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

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 [email protected] 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.

2018 Fieldwork Assignments

Dr. Pless begins the announcement of field education assignments. Local pastors were in attendance to meet their new fieldworkers.

Dr. John Pless and Deaconess Amy Rast announced fieldwork assignments for the first-year pastoral and diaconal students this morning following chapel. Pastors and other representatives of these local churches were in attendance to meet their new fieldworkers, who will serve at these churches for the next two years, gaining practical experience in preparation for vicarage and deaconess internships.

Phyllis Thieme, President of the Seminary Guild, passes out a copy of the PCC to a first-year seminarian.

The Seminary Guild was on hand following the assignments to pass out copies of the “Pastoral Care Companion” (PCC), a book that contains prayers, readings, hymns, liturgy, and other guidance in every situation from birth to death. Originally designed for pastors, the book is also adaptable to diaconal service and acts of mercy as these women will be faced with many situations that require the comfort and encouragement of Scripture. “It’s not just another textbook,” Dr. Pless, Director of Field Education, explained, “but a resource that will follow them through the days of Seminary and into congregations.”

To learn more about the Legacy Project (as this ongoing Seminary Guild project to provide every diaconal and pastoral student with a copy of the PCC is called), contact [email protected] You can also learn more about the work of the Seminary Guild at

To view all field assignments, go to

The first-year class of diaconal students with their copies of the PCC, following fieldwork assignments. Deaconess Amy Rast, Associate Director of Deaconess Formation, stands on the far right.

SMP Intensives

“The Lord’s Supper” with Dr. Masaki (SMP Class of 2015 and 2016); “Lutheran Confessions: Intro and Overview” with Dr. Mayes (Class of 2018); and “Heaven on Earth” with Dr. Grime (SMP Class of 2017).

SMP Intensives ended at noon today, which is a week-long, intense course of on-campus classes for students in the Specific Ministry Pastor program. Due to the uniqueness of the course and its long-distance nature (the SMP program is designed to train and mentor a leader within a congregation that could not otherwise call a pastor – often a vacancy that has no funds or a non-English-speaking ministry that would be damaged by the prolonged absence of the student – and is not meant for, let alone open to, most men who desire to become a pastor), we rarely get to see these men, though they are a part of our student body.
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Gemütlichkeit (and a couple of Theology Nerds, if their shirts are to be believed).

Most of the hours in each day are packed with classes, though time for worship in Kramer Chapel was built into their schedules, which is why the pews looked more full than usual this week during daily chapel services. On Thursday evening, the students of the SMP program also took the time to host gemütlichkeit for the whole Seminary community. Gemütlichkeit is a German word that is in some ways untranslatable – it describes a feeling rather than a specific term, one of warmth, friendliness, contentedness, and good cheer – but here at CTSFW it means the weekly Friday evening get-together for faculty, students, and their families to gather at the Student Commons to drink beer and talk.
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It can be hard to convey how much of the formation process of Seminary occurs between classes. There’s a lot of laughter at these get-togethers, but if you eavesdrop on the conversations, 90% of it is about theology. They argue, agree, run their questions and opinions past the professors (one of the things we are quietly proud of here is the fact that CTSFW has no faculty lounge; the professors eat lunch and drink coffee – and beer – with their students), and through it all learn. In the words of Proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” And so it is a joy to have these men here with us. God’s blessings to our SMP students as they travel home to their families and their ministries!

Top: Gemütlichkeit inside. Director of Admission, Rev. Matt Wietfeldt sits on the far right with students. Bottom: Gemütlichkeit spreads out into the portico while the weather remains good.