Monday, December 23, 2013

The Value of Seminaries

We are incredibly blessed in the LCMS with two of the finest Lutheran seminaries in the world.  Here's some video shot at last summer's LCMS convention that underscores this fact. 

Saturday, July 06, 2013

LCMS Presidential Elections

The announcement today of the reelection of the Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison to the presidency of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod ( got me thinking about presidential elections over the course of Missouri's "modern" history (1973 to present.  I use 1973 as the date, because in that year the LCMS changed its nomination procedure).  With the disclaimer that this is a first run through and I need to do some fact checking, here are the results showing the top two vote getters, without note or comment.

1st ballot, JAO Preus 606, WIliam Kohn 340. 1,055 total votes.  57%

2nd ballot, JAO Preus 596, Charles Mueller 330.  1,083 total votes.  55%

4th ballot, Ralph Bohlmann 722, Charles Mueller 338.  1,110 total votes.  65%

1st ballot, Ralph Bohlmann 844, Lloyd Behnken 95.  1,079 votes.  78%

1st ballot, Ralph Bohlmann 576, Robert Sauer 447.  1,029 total votes. 56%

1st ballot, Ralph Bohlmann 589, Robert Sauer 433.  1,124 total votes.  52%

4th ballot, Alvin Barry 580, Ralph Bohlmann 568.  1,148 total votes.  50.5%

1st ballot, Alvin Barry 754, Richard Kapfer 290.  1,162 total votes. 65%

1st ballot, Alvin Barry 657, Glen O’Shoney 343.  1,161 total votes.  56%

4th ballot, Gerald Kieschnick 600, Dean Wenthe 582.  1,182 total votes.  50.7%

1st ballot, Gerald Kieschnick 653, Daniel Preus 391.  1,237 total votes.  53%

1st ballot, Gerald Kieschnick 644, John Wohlrabe 514.  1,231 total votes.  52%

1st ballot, Matthew Harrison 643, Gerald Kieschnick 527.  1,170 total votes.  55%

1st ballot, Matthew Harrison 4,262, David Maier 1,906.  6,432 total votes.  66%

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Getting Ready for Conclave

There are plenty of websites out there to keep up with the latest news on the election of the next pope. offers a Roman Catholic perspective on the central players. 

I always heard "you can't tell the players without a program," and that brought this to mind.

LCMS Lutheran Withdraws from Consideration for Luther College Presidency

It looked like Dr. MarkHagerott, military professor and senior military officer of history at the United States Naval Academy and candidate for the presidency of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, was on his way to be elected to the top position of that school.  The presidential search committee had narrowed the list of candidates to two, and the Board of Regents appeared to have moved toward consideration of only Mr. Hagerott. reported the Board of Regents as follows:

After receiving the report from the Presidential Search Committee, the Luther College Board of Regents charged the committee to further explore the candidacy of a single finalist, Dr. Mark Hagerott, and to report back to the Regents no later than April 30, 2013. Â We look forward to additional engagement with Dr. Hagerott. Any decision about the election of Luther's next president will be deferred until after the receipt of the committee's subsequent report to the Board.

A clarifying statement appeared a few days later, which delayed the presidential election to later in the Spring.

How had the train gone off the tracks?

Some discomfort in the Luther community on Hagerott's affiliation with The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod emerged.  One example of this in the Luther College student newspaper, CHIPS, published an opinion piece titled "Lutheranism and the Luther Presidency."  The article's bottom line was straightforward: "The ELCA and the LCMS are both Lutheran, but only one denomination represents the Luther College community."  

On Tuesday, March 5, Dr. Hagerott withdrew from consideration for the office. has an article on Hagerott's withdrawal here.  Hagerott's own "Reflections on a College Search" may be found in CHIPS.  A couple of quotes from Hagerott's reflections follow.

It was with sadness that I withdrew from the Luther College search. My wife and I found it to be a wonderful place. People we met were so genuinely friendly. But in light of articles published in this paper and the college paper that used a very narrow lens to interpret who I am and what I stood for, I feel it now necessary to explain why I withdrew from consideration. Moreover, how I was portrayed and judged in the articles holds implications for Luther's future hiring and promotion practices.

Despite my record, the debate as framed both in the school newspaper and the community paper became one sided, portraying a requirement for theological conformity. Counterpoints were conspicuously absent. Such a demand for conformity surprised me, because as I read on the website, the Luther family was "...of all backgrounds, we embrace diversity". At Annapolis I worked with, hired, mentored, and led persons of all faiths, genders, sexual orientations, and political persuasions, and I maintained an impeccable record of tolerance.

Perhaps it is fitting that these questions come to the fore now, as we approach the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther challenged the reigning orthodoxy of his time. Perhaps the orthodoxy today is “political correctness” on college campuses across America? My hope is that Luther College will be a source of a new reformation, one that encourages persons, from liberal to moderate to religious conservative, to participate with confidence in the mission of educating the next generation of undergraduates. It was to that end, and is my hope now, that my decision to end my candidacy will allow this important debate to continue without distraction at Luther College.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Prayer of Justus Falckner

Students in my Church History IV course at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, all learn the hymn "Rise, Ye Children of Salvation" (TLH 472).  They hymn's author, Rev. Justus Falckner, was the first Lutheran to be regularly ordained in North America (November 24, 1703).  In preparing for an upcoming section of Church History IV, I came across this little prayer of Falckner's, cited by Henry E. Jacobs in "Justus Falckner," Lutheran Church Review 23 (January 1904): 171.

"O God, who has thrust me into this harvest, be Thou with me, Thy lowly and very feeble laborer, with Thy special grace, without which I must perish under the burden of trials that often overwhelm me.  In Thee, O Lord, have I trusted; let me not be confounded.  Fit me for my calling.  I did not run, but Thou didst sendThou didst force me into this office.  Do Thou forgive whatever wrong a corrupt nature hath unconsciously wrought within me; pardon me, humbly praying through our Lordyea through my Jesus Christ. Amen."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Obama Nominates Gard for Navy Reserve's Highest Rank

President Barack Obama has nominated the Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Gard, an LCMS chaplain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., to serve as a rear admiral (lower half) in the role of deputy chief of chaplains for Reserve Matters, U.S. Navy.

Gard's nomination as rear admiral, the highest rank for a chaplain in the Navy Reserve, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced the promotion, along with several others, Feb. 14.

Gard said he is humbled by the opportunity that awaits him.

"To be a pastor is the greatest honor a person can have and then to have been sent in uniform to minister to America's magnificent men and women who risk all for freedom is a privilege beyond what I deserve," he said. "All I can say is 'Soli Deo Gloria' -- to God alone be the glory!"

Gard is completing a tour of duty as Joint Task Force Guantanamo chaplain, Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He will resume his seminary teaching duties during Holy Week. He also is the dean of Military Chaplaincy Programs at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS).

"Dr. Gard's service to this seminary, the church at-large and to his country has been exemplary and provides an excellent example of a good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ," said CTS President Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. in a seminary news release.

Gard asked for prayers that he be a "faithful servant of our Lord."

"God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and family and with the support of a unique community of faith, study and prayer at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne," he said. "There we have a mission that is unequaled in this world -- to form servants in Christ Jesus to teach the faithful, reach the lost and care for all."

To read the U.S. Navy's release about Gard, click here.

Posted Feb. 21, 2013

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Ethiopian Lutherans Break Fellowship with ELCA

Significant news that affects world Lutheranism.

February 7, 2013
Lutheran church in Ethiopia severs relationship with ELCA

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is severing its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Church of Sweden and “those churches who have openly accepted same-sex marriage.”
     The action for “all Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus departments and institutions (at every level) to implement this decision” was ratified at the denomination’s general assembly, which met Jan. 27-Feb. 2 in Addis Ababa. The denomination’s church council took action at its July 2012 meeting to initially sever these relationships.
     “The ELCA is very saddened by this decision,” said the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission. “The ELCA and its predecessor church bodies have been walking with the people of Ethiopia for more than 50 years, and our sister church, the Church of Sweden, for more than 150 years. In this journey, we have learned from one another, we have deepened and extended the bonds of fellowship and partnership in the gospel.” Malpica Padilla was in Addis Ababa for meetings with program and ministry partners of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.
     To ensure that the decisions by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus are implemented, members of the denomination “will not receive Holy Communion from the leadership and pastors of the (ELCA and the Church of Sweden). The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus will not distribute communion to these churches,” as stated in the minutes of the denomination’s July 2012 council meeting.
     “Representatives of these churches at national level or leaders at every level would not be invited to preach or speak at the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus congregations or other gatherings. They should not be invited for any spiritual ministries of this church,” stated the minutes, which also reflects that leaders and pastors of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus “at every level will not visit the synods, dioceses, congregations and national offices of churches that have accepted this practice without proper permission from the head office of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.”
     While the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is “closing the door to this partnership,” Malpica Padilla said that the ELCA and the Church of Sweden “are not locking the doors from our side. It is open for when you decide it is time to resume this journey together. It is my hope that in the near future, we will again walk together in Christian love. We will do this not because of doctrinal agreements or consensus, but because the gospel compels us to do so.”
      The ELCA has consistently kept its Lutheran companion churches informed about the ELCA’s process that led to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly decisions, which included the adoption of a social statement on human sexuality, said Malpica Padilla.
      “We shared the study documents and invited their input,” he said. “When decisions were made, we wrote to (leaders of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus) expressing our commitment to not impose our actions and to respect the policy and practice of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus in the assignment of mission personnel,” he said.
     The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said the actions of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus are “deeply troubling.”
      “Our own statement on human sexuality acknowledges that the position held by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is also held by members of the ELCA. We are not of one mind, but we are one in Christ, in faith and in baptism,” said Hanson, adding that the relationships between Lutherans in North America and in Ethiopia “has been sustained through periods of oppression, divisions within the Ethiopian church and in times of turmoil among Lutherans in North America. The action of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus church diminishes our capacity together to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, to serve our neighbors and to care for the creation.
      “As the ELCA, we are always standing ready to open the door of conversation for the sake of reconciliation and our shared commitment to proclamation and service,” Hanson said. “Reconciliation is not an option. It is given in Christ, and we stand ready to engage with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus on what this gift of reconciliation might mean for us now.”
- - -
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or
Living Lutheran: