The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is blessed with university leadership that seeks to reflect the confession and practice of the church. The presidents of the Concordia University System (CUS), meeting in Peachtree, Ga., in October 2014, and in Asheville, N.C., Feb. 9, 2015, have endorsed* the following identity statement and its protocols as a means to demonstrate their support for the Christian teaching, Lutheran confession and practice of the church. Pastors, congregations and parents are urged to support these faithful presidents and send students as well as financial assistance so that their mission as institutions of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod might flourish and display the truth that all true knowledge and learning is rightly ordered in relation to God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.
While some have noted the drift of colleges and universities away from the churches that gave birth to them, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod can give thanks for such a clear and forthright expression of solidarity with the church. Such commitment by the presidents is distinctive and, by God’s grace, will recommend their institutions not only to members of the church but to those publics that are seeking such a full and transparent commitment to the integration of the finest in university education with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lutheran Identity Standards for CUS Institutions
As educational institutions of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the colleges and universities of the Concordia University System confess the faith of the Church. The Concordias uphold the teachings of sacred Scripture and its articulation in the Lutheran Confessions. This includes the biblical teaching that Jesus Christ — true God and true man — is the sole way to God’s mercy and grace; that at the beginning of time the Triune God created all things; that life is sacred from conception to natural death; and that marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred gift of God’s creative hand — over against the reductionistic assumptions of many in our culture who view men and women as only transitory and material beings.
As educational institutions of the LCMS, the Concordias are committed to providing an excellent, robust curriculum in the liberal arts and professional studies, which together equip students for various vocations of service to church and society. As C.F.W. Walther wrote, “As long as and wherever the Christian church flourished, it always and everywhere proved itself to be a friend and cultivator of all good arts and sciences, gave its future servants a scholarly preparatory training, and did not disdain to permit its gifted youth at its schools of higher learning to be trained by the standard products of even pagan art and science.[i] ”
Accordingly, the colleges and universities of the Concordia University System affirm and promise to uphold these identity standards:
1. Identity statements
The institution’s mission statement (and/or vision statement) clearly identifies it as a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) institution, as do the institution’s primary print and electronic publications.
2. Governing board
All of the institution’s regents are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations (Bylaw 22.214.171.124 – 4).[ii]
3. Senior leadership
The president and the senior leaders over academics, student life, admissions and athletics are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations, and all faithfully participate in worship and religious activities on campus and in their local congregations.
Each tenure track or continuing-level faculty search is given optimal exposure among members of congregations of the LCMS to identify faculty who are qualified in their respective academic disciplines and are members of LCMS congregations.
Ideally, all faculty members are active members of LCMS congregations. When academically qualified LCMS members are not available, faculty members will be Christians who affirm, at minimum, the content of the Ecumenical Creeds and are members of Christian congregations. All faculty members promise to perform their duties in harmony with the truths of Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and the doctrinal statements of the LCMS (cf. Bylaw 126.96.36.199.2).
The majority of the full-time faculty are members of LCMS congregations. In cases where this standard is not met, the institution will develop a plan to reach this minimum standard and submit it to the CUS.
The institution has an ongoing faculty and staff development program required of all faculty, senior administrators and senior staff members that clearly explains the tenets of LCMS higher education and what it means to be a faculty, administrator or staff member at a CUS institution. Adjunct or part-time faculty members engage in a similar faculty development program that likewise explains the fundamental tenets of LCMS higher education and what it means to be a part-time faculty member at an LCMS institution.
5. Theology faculty
All theology faculty (full-time and part-time) are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations and fully affirm the theological confession of the LCMS. As the LCMS Bylaws indicate, all full-time theology faculty receive prior approval from the CUS Board of Directors before being appointed or called (Bylaw 188.8.131.52).
6. Academic freedom and responsibility
All full-time faculty acknowledge their acceptance of the CUS statement of Academic Freedom and Responsibilities. All faculty, both full- and part-time, pledge to perform their duties in harmony with Scripture, the Confessions and the Synod’s doctrinal statements (Bylaw 184.108.40.206.2).
7. Faith and learning
In accordance with the doctrine of the two kingdoms, all faculty strive to faithfully bring Lutheran theology into interaction with their various academic disciplines while respecting the integrity of those disciplines. Likewise, in other campus arenas, faculty, staff and administrators will seek to apply Lutheran theology within their campus vocations.
8. Required theology courses
The institution requires two to three theology courses for an undergraduate degree, typically in Old Testament, New Testament and Christian doctrine. Because these courses are directly related to the theological identity of CUS institutions and to the identity formation of graduates, these theology courses will normally be taken at a CUS institution. Exceptions to this will be approved by the institution’s called theological faculty.
9. Preparation of church workers
The institution provides resources to recruit, form, nurture and place students preparing for professional church work in the LCMS (e.g., pre-seminary, pre-deaconess, Lutheran teachers, DCEs, DCOs, DPMs, etc.). Specific programs vary by campus.
10. Campus ministry
The institution offers regular opportunities for worship that reflect the confession of the church. Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to participate in these services. The institution calls a campus pastor or chaplain, who is a Minister of Religion—Ordained of the LCMS, who oversees the worship life of the community, organizes opportunities for Christian service and witness, and provides pastoral care for students.
Assessment of institutional commitment to Lutheran identity
Each institution will submit an annual written report to the CUS Board of Directors describing, with evidence, how the institution meets the 10 Lutheran Identity Standards. The report will be endorsed by each respective Board of Regents and will be shared with the campus community.
October 18, 2014
[i] Walther, C.F.W., “Forward to the 1875 Volume: Are We Guilty of Despising Scholarship,” in Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther: Editorials from “Lehre und Wehre,” trans. August R. Suelflow (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1981), Pages 124-125.
[ii] For purposes of clarity, this document is using “member” inclusively to include both laypersons whose membership is in a local congregation and called ministers of the Gospel who are themselves members of Synod.
* President Dr. Viji George of Concordia College—New York, Bronxville, has requested that his name be removed until his Board of Regents can consider the statement at its May 2015 meeting.
Pictured, from left: President Gijsbertus van Hattem (Belgium); President Egon Kopereck (Brazil); Archbishop Christian Ekong (Nigeria); ILC Executive Secretary Dr. Albert Collver (USA); Chairman Jon Ehlers (Great Britain); Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt (Germany); President Antonio Reyes (Philippines).
By Mathew Block
Originally Posted on http://www.ilc-online.org/2015/01/21/ilc-executive-meets-in-england-plans-for-2015-world-conference/
ENGLAND – The Executive Committee of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) met January 15-16, 2015 at the St. Cuthman’s Retreat Centre in Coolham, West Sussex, just south of London, England. ILC Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt, Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, presided over the sessions.
The committee’s primary task was to make preparations for the ILC’s 25th World Conference, set for September 2015, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Bishops and presidents of all 34 full and associate member churches are being invited. The chosen overarching theological theme for the gathering is Bringing the Reformation to the World. In addition, delegates to the conference will choose a chairman and other executive officers for the coming three-year term.
Chairman Voigt expressed his joy over the fact that five Lutheran church bodies from various continents have made inquiries about taking up membership in the ILC. The Executive Committee also spent time examining the financial status of this global organization, which needs to be further developed.
Rev. Dr. Lawrence Rast, President of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA), facilitated intensive planning sessions for the Executive Committee as they strategized for the future and analyzed both strengths and weaknesses of the Council’s existing form and function.
Summing up at the close of the meetings, Chairman Voigt commented, “At various times in history, the Church has been especially strong when in the midst of its limitations it focused on the primary thing—that is, the proclamation of the Gospel.” Bringing the Gospel to people is the Church’s main responsibility, he added.
The message of Christmas is huge, of eternal proportions and significance: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman….” (Galatians 4:4-5). This hugeness of Christmas is so important to bear in mind, its dimenions having been so diminished in our day, often reduced to mere tinsel and trappings.
No hymn captures that hugeness better than that of Prudentius of the 4th century, aided by the 12th century plain-song tune we have sung many times (TLH 98). We do well this Christmas season to devote a little personal time its proper perspective:
Of the Father’s love begotten ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.
Oh, that birth forever blessed when the Virgin, full of grace
By the Holy Ghost conceiving bare the Savior of our race,
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, first revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.
O ye heights of heav’n, adore Him; angel hosts His praises sing;
Pow’rs, dominions, bow before Him and extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent, ev’ry voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.
This is He whom heav’n-taught singers sang of old with one accord;
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the long-expected; let creation praise its Lord
Evermore and evermore.
Immersed in and bombarded by a society and culture that have relegated Christmas to a cute little story in a faraway little town, we do well to join Prudentius in pondering the eternal dimensions of this holy day and its celebration:
Christ, to Thee, with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving and unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion, and evernal victory
Evermore and evermore.
Rev. Wakseyoum Idossa
Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m. CST
Presidents Room, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Live stream: www.csl.edu/live
The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) has a history of struggle and growth, including persecution under communist rule. With well over 6 million members today, the church continues to grow and strengthen its ministry.
Dr. Wakseyoum Idossa, president of the EECMY, will lead a discussion on the church’s holistic model of ministry that has enabled it to respond effectively and compassionately to the needs of its people.
This lecture is free to attend and will be streamed live. Set your browser to www.csl.edu/live to watch and hear the lecture on your computer.
For more information, contact Becky Pagel at 314-505-7377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod missionaries from the United States who are serving in Papua New Guinea (PNG) face ongoing attempts by the PNG Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration and his department to deport them.
The three — the Rev. Jeffrey Horn, Julie Lutz and Anton Lutz (40 years in PNG among them) — have legal representation and are in contact with the U.S. Embassy.
The three have not been officially served deportation orders nor have they seen complaints lodged against them. The minister has sought to justify the deportation action in national newspaper articles and a full-page advertisement. He alleges the three have breached PNG law and interfered in local and church politics. No investigation involving the missionaries has been carried out. On Monday, Dec. 8, the missionaries were emailed a letter instructing them to leave Papua New Guinea voluntarily by Dec. 12.
According to newspaper reports filed Dec. 5, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has intervened and ordered the Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato, not to deport the missionaries. The prime minister has set up an investigation headed by Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc. The missionaries have not yet been briefed regarding the scope of the intended investigation.
Because the complaints upon which the deportation is based are unknown, and because due process has not been followed, the missionaries welcome the prime minister’s independent investigation. The missionaries also will request a Committee of Review to look into their case so that the cancellation of their entry permits might be revoked.
As guests of Papua New Guinea over many years, the missionaries seek to abide by all PNG laws and expect public servants and politicians to do the same. They will respect the rule of law.
Posted Dec. 9, 2014