President Harrison Commenting On Strategic
Theological Education Efforts Worldwide

Today (30 June 2011) at the LCMS International Center, a “Global Impact” meeting was held with representatives from Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Lutheran Hour Ministries, and World Mission to discuss how the LCMS could bring its resources to bear to maximize impact upon the world. The idea for this meeting came from a visit President Harrison made to a faculty forum at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. At that meeting,  Rev. Dr. Paul Raabe responding to President Harrison’s vision to “Rock the Lutheran World,” said something to the effect, “What we need is a ‘war room’ with a map of the world so that we can plan how to best utilize the resources of the LCMS collectively (the Seminaries, Missions, International Center, Districts, Congregations, etc.) to have the largest and global impact utilizing the best stewardship.” President Harrison thought that an excellent idea and some six months later, the first “Global Impact,” a.k.a. “Raabe’s War Room” meeting was held.  To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time an event such as this has been held with people from the LCMS International Center (President’s Office, Church Relations, Missions, and Pastoral Education), along with both seminaries (CSL and CTSFW) and Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) gathered together to forge a collaborative strategy towards a global theological education and mission efforts.

Rev. Dr. Paul Raabe 

Now a brief word should be said about the term “war room” as it potentially sounds triumphalistic or as if we develop the right plan or strategy will produce the results we want or lead to the outcomes we desire. “War room” might also sound imperialistic. At the risk of protesting too much none of these interpretations is what is intended. In the best sense of the word something like the following was intended: “A centralized office or locale for the project manager and the project team to work on the project. It can house information on the project, including documentation and support materials. It allows the project team to work in close proximity.” In this case, it was an opportunity for the project team (LCMS Mission, Seminaries, LHM, etc.) to gather together to talk about the best way to coordinate our efforts and to utilize the Lord’s resources entrusted to us by the Lord’s church to proclaim the Gospel worldwide, talking into account requests and needs of our worldwide partners. While the harvest and fruit is not ours to decide, the Lord himself told his disciples to the “consider” the cost before building a tower.

After devotions and prayer, President Harrison began by reiterating his desire to “Rock the Lutheran World” and emphasized that the seminaries and their role in theological education was not only a strength of the LCMS (one might even say a “core competency”) but was essential to the LCMS’ missionary effort. Confessional Lutheran Theological Education rooted in the Holy Scriptures, Lutheran Confessions, the Small Catechism, and the Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel are essential to the formation of pastors (within the United States and also essential to the formation of indigenous pastors overseas) who preach boldly in a way that engages people, who then go on to share the Gospel with their family and friends. This also is essential to the formation of future church leaders at home and abroad.

View LCMS Theological Education in a larger map

Key to the Map: RED Markers Indicate Efforts of Both Seminaries;
YELLOW Markers Indicate Efforts by CSL
BLUE Markers Indicate Efforts by CTSFW
VIOLET Markers Indicate Efforts by LCC
CYAN Markers Indicate Efforts by LCMS WM

After President Harrison finished explaining his goal for the meeting, Al Collver, Church Relations, and Dave Birner, World Mission, gave an overview of LCMS and Lutheran Church Canada (also participants via email) theological education initiatives around the world. Next representatives from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, discussed significant worldwide contacts they had and initiatives they had begun. Next representatives from Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, presented their contacts and initiatives. Luther Hour Ministries (LHM) presented on the 31 countries they work in. (The countries LHM International works in can be found here.)

Over a working lunch, Rev. Dr. Glen Thomas, Executive Director of Pastoral Education, moderated a discussion on working towards policies the various entities could agree were guiding principles for collaboration and for stewardship of resources. Good progress was made on this and the group decided to have a steering committee incorporate the suggestions from the participating entities to be presented at a future meeting.

The final portion of the meeting discussed the funding challenge first presented in the May 2011 Lutheran Witness, “Blessings, Gifts, Challenges…” (click here for the issue) which specifically challenged the Synod to raise $250,000 for theological education (see http://lcms.org/projects) or click here to give now to this challenge. The goal is to have $1,000,000 per year to divide between Concordia Seminary Saint Louis, Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne, and the Lutheran Church Canada to provide theological education consisting of bringing future leaders to LCMS and LCC seminaries, sending seminary professors overseas to teach, and to support regional seminaries of partner churches.

Rev. Jon Vieker, Senor Assistant to the President, closed the meeting with the Litany.

While there is much work still to be done, details to be completed, and more input sought from the seminaries and from partner churches, today was a good start. May the Lord send labors into the field for the harvest is plentiful. This is a preliminary report of good meeting. Look for more information in the Reporter and other LCMS publications in the future.

Participants: from Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, included, Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer, President; Rev. Dr. Andy Bartelt, Vice-President Academic Affairs; Rev. Dr. Bruce Schuchard; Rev. Dr. William Schumacher; Rev. Dr. Victor Raj. From Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne: Rev. Dr. Larry Rast, President; Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, President Emeritis; Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill; Rev. Dr. Chuck Geischen; Rev. Dr. Detlev Schultz. From the Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) Rev. Dr. Douglas Rutt;  from the LCMS International Center: Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President; Rev. Dr. Glen Thomas, Pastoral Education; Rev. Dr. David Birner, World Mission; Rev. Jon Vieker; Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Church Relations.