Thanksgiving and Prayers for Our Seminaries

Our eldest son, Zachary, is moving to Fort Wayne this week with his wife and children, in order to begin his studies at the seminary next month. It’s a bit of déjà vu for my wife and me, as Zach was a newborn infant when I started Greek at the seminary thirty-five years ago this fall!

We’re also in the process of finalizing our youngest daughter’s plans to attend Christ Academy: Phoebe School again this summer, which was such a joyous blessing to her last year. It is a joy to see my children connecting with a campus that has such a deep significance in my own history.

These happenings are just two of the numerous things that have brought our seminaries to the forefront of my mind recently – both of our LCMS seminaries, to be sure, but especially the one right here within our Indiana District: Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.

Both of our seminaries had their graduation exercises this past Friday, the 17th. of May; and the next day, at Fort Wayne, the electors chose and then announced the new president of CTSFW, the Reverend Dr. John Bruss. I have enjoyed getting to know Dr. Bruss over these past couple of years, and I look forward to working with him and supporting his efforts to care for the Seminary in the years ahead. It is indicative of the Lord’s gracious and manifold blessings upon our Synod that any one of the final four candidates for the office of Seminary President would have been an excellent and worthy choice. I am grateful for each of these men and for their faithful service.

Of course, it was just this past month that the seminaries had their Call/Placement Services, and the Church rejoices in the men who have been called and will soon be ordained to the Office of the Holy Ministry at various congregations throughout our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. God bless each and all of them, along with their families and the communities they will serve.

And this past weekend, I had the privilege of celebrating one pastor’s twentieth anniversary – of his ordination, and also of his ministry at the same congregation where he has served ever since – and then installing a new pastor at another congregation. Those were quite different occasions in some respects, but each event highlighted the centrality and significance of the pastoral office in the life of the Church, and therefore, by extension, the vital role that our seminaries serve in the Ministry and Mission of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. As the Office of the Holy Ministry is the God-established means whereby He bestows His gifts of the Gospel upon His Church, the careful and conscientious preparation of men for that Office and its sacred work has always been – and still remains – one of the most important purposes of our Synod fellowship.

At the Convention this past year, the Synod acknowledged the various alternative routes that we now have in place for men aspiring to become pastors, but also affirmed the tremendous benefits and blessings of residential seminary education, training, and formation. There is simply no real substitute for the relationships that are formed and the personal growth that occurs through the in-person interactions that happen on campus – in the chapel, the classrooms, and the cafeteria.

Reminiscing about my own years at the seminary, thinking about my son as he is about to begin his studies there, and fondly recalling when my Dad similarly came to Fort Wayne and started at the seminary (the winter of 1977-78) after his years as a Lutheran teacher and administrator, I am so profoundly grateful and give thanks for the work of our seminaries; and I pray that our Lord in His tender mercies and steadfast loving-kindness will continue to support and sustain them in all the challenges and changes of the coming years in the midst of this fallen and perishing world!