Concordia Seminary magazine | Spring 2022

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First Look

Rev. Paul Rempfer, a 2021 Concordia Seminary graduate, makes a free throw during one of the “Hoops for Hope” alumni basketball games against the Preachers Feb. 11 in the Pederson Field House. Despite their best efforts, the two alumni teams lost both games to the Preachers, 77-71 and 84-79. Photo: Michael Thomas










Deaconess Studies student Alyssa caption Lehenbauer and Master of Divinity student Jacob Scheler are near the end of their first year at Concordia Seminary. Photo: Michael Thomas


Dr. PUBLISHER Thomas J. Egger

Dale A. Meyer


Vicki Biggs



Beth Hasek ART DIRECTOR Jayna Rollings


Courtney Koll DESIGNERS Michelle Poneleit WRITERS Jayna Rollings

Dr. Charles Arand Dr. Erik Herrmann WRITERS Deaconess Rebekah Lukas Sarah Maney Sarah Maney Daniel Mattson Michael Stainbrook

Lisa Mills Travis Scholl PHOTOGRAPHERS Davin Alberson

Jill Gray PHOTOGRAPHERS Deaconess JillRebekah Gray Lukas Sarah Maney Sid Hastings Harold Rau Courtney Koll Michael Thomas Sarah Maney Michelle Poneleit Harold Rau

Dr. Thomas J. Egger. Photo: Jill Gray

Greetings, friends, in the name of Christ! The Christian Gospel makes the blind to see! When the Good News of Jesus the Savior is proclaimed to someone who has never heard, and the Spirit of God opens his or her heart to believe, it is as if scales fall from their eyes! They come to see that Jesus is alive forever, and will one day give them eternal life. They come to see that their sins have been washed away through the blood of Jesus’ cross and through their Baptism. They come to see that life has purpose: to love and serve others in Jesus’ name, bearing witness to the Lord who has redeemed them. The Gospel also gives us eyes to see the world around us in a new way. Look at the birds of the air! Consider the lilies of the field! Lift up your eyes to the heavens — who created all these? All this is the handiwork of our God. He created all things in heaven and on earth and in the sea. He still takes care of them. The Gospel helps us to see the rich, sweet, awe-inspiring, beautiful world around us as an expression of God’s great love for us. It is His gift. To us. Every day, no matter how trying our circumstances, sweet, good things come to us from our Father’s hand. Through the world He has made. Through the world He still governs every day and every minute. Here at Concordia Seminary it is our great joy and privilege to prepare servants of Christ’s Gospel. This spring we will again celebrate Call Day, when future pastors and deaconesses learn the place of their first assignment. The Lord Himself is calling them and sending them. They will go forth with God’s own Word in their hearts and on their lips. Through that Word, they will open the eyes of the blind! People will see their Savior’s bleeding love. People will see their neighbors as those needing care and hope in Christ. And people will see every meal, every bird, every sunbeam and raindrop, every landscape as a loving gift from God their Father. Life in this world is so much more beautiful with such eyes. Dear friend, may our Lord continue to give you such eyes, through the eye-opening word of His Gospel. “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Ps. 104:24 ESV). Blessings in Christ,

Concordia Seminary magazine magazine is is a a Concordia Seminary member of of the the Associated Associated Church Church Press Press member and the the Evangelical Evangelical Press Press Association. Association. and



Dr. Thomas J. Egger, President



The Fuller Story of God

10 The Camp Connection

IN EVERY ISSUE 4 From the President 14 Student Spotlight


16 Staff Focus 18 Alumni and Friends 20 Support Your Sem 22 News Worth Noting



OUR MISSION Concordia Seminary serves church and world by providing theological education and leadership centered in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ for the formation of pastors, missionaries, deaconesses, scholars and leaders in the name of The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod.

WANT TO JOIN OUR MAILING LIST? To be added to the mailing list, or to receive the magazine electronically, address correspondence to: Concordia Seminary magazine, Concordia Seminary, 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, MO 63105; call 800-822-5287; or email Congregations may request copies in bulk for distribution within their churches. Copyright © April 2022, Concordia Seminary, 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, MO 63105. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior written permission of Concordia Seminary.






Each week people in the pew hear portions of a story that focuses on God’s work of rescuing His creation — beginning with His human creatures. That story focuses on how God carries out His work through the promise given to Abraham, entrusted to Israel and brought to fruition with Jesus. But that story itself of God’s promise of salvation does not exhaust God’s activity or work within the world. Instead, the story of God’s promised redemption takes place within a larger context of God’s entire creation. Put another way, redemption is part and parcel of God’s creative work. That larger realm of creation includes both Christians and non-Christians along with the places where they interact with one another. Just as Christians give witness to God’s work as Redeemer, so the wider world gives witness to God’s work as Creator to which His work of redemption belongs and completes.

THE GOODNESS OF BEING A CREATURE Martin Luther explains the First Article of the Apostles Creed in a way that might not seem obvious at first glance. He opens by asking, “What does it mean to believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”? He then answers that question not by describing or cataloging and classifying all of God’s works in the entire universe that includes everything from atoms to galaxies. Instead, he answers the question of what it means to confess God is the Creator in a more personal and relational way. Namely, it means that “I am God’s creature”! What does it mean to be God’s creature? After all, we don’t use that language very much within our culture CONTINUED ON PAGE 8 >




today and when we do, it is often used with reference to nonhuman beings. But Luther uses it because it is a theological term and it implies a creator. To say that we are creatures means that someone made us. In this case, we are God’s creatures. We receive life from God and all that sustains our life in this world from God. Thus as creatures, we are by definition contingent and dependent. To borrow from Paul, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7 ESV). As individuals who do not have life of ourselves, who are not selfsustaining or autonomous, we have to look somewhere for the support and sustenance of our lives. And where we look identifies our god.

and saints (simul justus et peccator). In the eyes of the Law, we are sinners; in the eyes of the Gospel, we are justified before God. But what about all humans including those who do not confess Jesus as Lord? Do we see them only in terms of us and them? Or do we see them in terms of outsiders or insiders? Or perhaps we see them through lenses of being saved or lost? Now the latter is true and quite biblical (e.g., lost sheep) when viewed solely in terms of salvation. That is to say, there are those who believe in Jesus and are saved and there are those who do not believe in Jesus and therefore are lost to God. But the greater story offers a wideangle field of vision and highlights another underlying reality and context in which God is active for the sake of His entire creation.

“We all share a common creatureliness for we are all creatures of God.”

The truth is that no one can live without faith! Everyone has to put his or her faith and hope in something or someone. And so the issue of the First Commandment becomes one of true faith versus false faith. And what determines whether faith is true or false is whether the object of faith is the true God or not.


Let us consider how Luther’s treatment of the First Commandment and its anthropological assumption might offer guidance for Christian interaction with our non-Christian neighbors. First, as Lutherans, we are accustomed to speaking about the anthropology of Christians before God (coram deo) in terms of being simultaneously sinners



Given the story of creation and re-creation, perhaps we should think of all people as simultaneously creatures and fallen creatures (simul creatus et peccator). This distinction reminds us that in dealing with other people, we are dealing with fellow creatures of God who are fellow human creatures having been made in the image of God. As fellow human creatures of God, we share common places within creation where together we experience God’s lavish creaturely gifts. And we share common human experiences as we live out our lives in those places. These include the entire movement of our lives from birth to death, the experiences of physical hunger, emotional grief and joy, the need for human contact and healthy relationships. Second, the recognition that we share a common creatureliness (whether fallen or redeemed) opens the possibility of reciprocity — a mutual witness in which

the lives of both Christians and non-Christians can bear witness to the different aspects of God’s story. That is to say, as we go into a world that God Himself has created, we are giving witness to the story of which non-Christians are already a part — even though they are unaware of that story. This means we go out into a world in which we receive not only God’s saving work but also His creating work. In that regard, we stand alongside everyone else as fellow creatures of God! Christian witness entails listening. Listening certainly means being attentive to that which is missing in the lives of people who do not yet know Christ. To be sure, it means being wary of that which threatens and undermines the Gospel — those things in human experience that can so easily become a false religion. In this kind of listening, we are relatively well-versed. We know well the negative effects of the culture upon Christian witness. We are familiar with the things that erode our moral life, that erode the presuppositions of our faith. But what about listening for that which is consonant with the faith — those things that contribute to joy, hope and love? Can we be witnessed to? Can non-Christians enrich our own understanding of what God is doing in this world? We also suggest that we listen not only because it is a strategically good idea to have a little give-and-take when we talk to non-Christians. But we listen because it is a necessary consequence of confessing the fuller biblical story that is grounded in God’s creation and is about God’s creation. Part of confessing that story is to confess that it is far bigger than any of us can grasp. It is cosmic in scope; the goal of salvation history is that God would be all in all. We listen because God is working through His human creatures. We listen because they may

unveil and thus help us see aspects of creation and human life that we had not seen before — whether that be listening to a biologist uncover the remarkable world of the ant, a BBC special on the wonders of our Blue Planet or an astrophysicist who gives us a glimpse into the wonders of the cosmos. In other words, all of the intricate details of what God has created and is still creating and redeeming are still unfolding. We ourselves are still growing into Christ, and being conformed to His image — and the whole world waits with eager anticipation for the full redemption of God’s children.


Our Christian witness in the 21st century takes place in a culture that knows less and less of the Christian story. And what fragments people do know probably make little sense since they do not know how they fit within the larger story. So it becomes imperative that we relearn how to tell the story, the full story that stretches from creation to the new creation. But as we tell that story, we will discover new opportunities for witness. This includes not only the way in which we diagnose the brokenness of this world and human lives, but also the way in which we live out the underlying truth that this world remains God’s world. In it He is present and active so that, as we live alongside our fellow human creatures, we are “richly and daily supplied” with a profusion of possibility for faithful witness to God’s goodness and grace. This article is adapted from an address at Concordia Seminary’s Theological Symposium held in September 2013 and was printed in the Spring 2015 Concordia Journal. Dr. Charles Arand is the Eugene E. and Nell S. Fincke Graduate Professor of Theology and director of the Center for the Care of Creation at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Dr. Erik Herrmann is professor of Historical Theology, dean of Theological Research and Publication, and director of the Center for Reformation Research at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.






Lutheran and Christian summer camps rise from the country’s landscape, stretching from Washington to Florida, from North Dakota to Texas. These camps are the epitome of summer fun with their cookouts, campfires and canoes. But for many Concordia Seminary students, faculty and alums, these camps are about much more than fevered relay races and starry late-night hikes. They are where their Christian faith was deepened. Where their skills for ministry were tested and learned. And, for some, where the seed for vocational ministry was planted and watered as God’s Word was shared and studied during the sweltering days of summer. “The Holy Spirit definitely used camp to bring me here,” says Luke Onken, a second-year Master of Divinity (M.Div.) student who attended Lakeview Ministries in Indiana from the time he was in kindergarten until he was able to volunteer and serve on staff, most recently during summer 2021. Soe Moe, a student in the Seminary’s Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT), shares a similar experience. “During my first summer as a counselor [at Camp Lutherhaven in Indiana], I came to understand that it was my calling to become a pastor,” he says. “My family thought I was crazy because, in my culture, young people cannot become pastors.” Moe, however, at the age of 25 is in his fourth year and nearing completion of the EIIT distance ministerial formation program. This same story is echoed over and over by students and alums from across the Seminary’s various residential, distance and Advanced Studies programs. Rev. Michael Nielsen, who graduated from the Seminary in 2010, attended Camp Luther in Wisconsin as a child, then served on staff there and at Lutheran Island Camp in Minnesota. The camps helped cement his childhood dream of becoming a pastor. He is now serving as pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Barron, Wis., and





will graduate from the Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Program this spring. “Camp,” he says, “kept reaffirming the decision to go to Seminary to be equipped to serve the church.” Alexandria Shick, a concluding Deaconess Studies student, served as a counselor at Camp Geneva in Michigan during her high school summers. “Between questions from and conversations with campers and the multidenominational staff I served with,” she says, “camp reconfirmed my desire to study theology.”

Faith-based summer camps can be deeply transformational, explains Dr. Joel Biermann, the Seminary’s Waldemar A. and June Schuette Professor of Systematic Theology. He spent four summers during college on staff at Camp Concordia in Michigan, Camp Luther in Nebraska and Camp Luther in Wisconsin. Camp requires campers and counselors alike to unplug from their computers, cell phones and televisions and immerse themselves in God’s glorious creation, oftentimes with people they have never met. “The uniqueness of camp is the intentionality of being driven into nature,” Biermann says. “When you’re out of your home context and the safety of what’s comfortable, that kind of environment makes you more vulnerable, honest and receptive to being shaped.” That was the case for Luke Kunze, who is enrolled in the Seminary’s Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) Program, a distance pastoral education program. He attended Camp Luther in Wisconsin through high school, then worked on staff at Lutheran Valley Retreat in Colorado for seven years (with one summer at Shoshone Base Camp/Lutherhaven Ministries in Idaho due to a Colorado fire). “Camp demonstrated a daily walk with Christ, and not just on Sunday mornings,” he recalls. “It gave me a joy and desire to have strong relationships with people built on our common faith.” “Talking about God while in an outdoor setting made the whole endeavor more intensely experiential for me in a way that I didn’t expect,” says Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) student Kendall Davis, who served at Camp Lutherwood in Oregon, Camp Lutherhoma in Oklahoma and Camp Lutherhaven in Indiana.



M.Div. student Vincent Otto, who served at Heit’s Point Lutheran Ministries in Missouri for three years, says Scripture came alive for him in the camp setting. “Teaching about Jesus as the solid rock becomes a lot more real when it is taught from the top of a rocky cliff,” he explains. M.Div. student Deon Hull agrees. “We often forget how magnificent creation is when we are in our own sheltered, hyper-connected worlds,” he says. Hull served as program director at Woodlands Lutheran Camp in Florida and later as executive director at Walcamp in Illinois. “When campers or staff are unplugged, it ... tells them who they are in Christ and it helps them develop Christian character that transcends their current group of friends and situations.” Many former campers and staff said they learned a lot from the highly structured schedule of camp life where set times were the norm for meals, rest, physical activity, group events and Bible study. “Being in creation forced me into a different routine for rest and daily life,” says M.Div. student Adam Tanney, who attended Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca in Iowa and Camp Lone Star in Texas, then served at Camp Luther in Wisconsin. “When I got back to the ‘real world’ after camp, that routine with no phone signal and more time walking trails, sitting with friends and being in daily devotions was something I could keep striving for.”

For many students, summer camp instilled and enhanced important skills and routines for their Seminary years and beyond. Time and again they said the experience reaffirmed that God was calling them to vocational ministry and provided hands-on training in a sense. “I loved molding and teaching kids, showing them how to do things and influencing them,” Biermann says. “That kind of role I’ve never let go of.” Kunze said he struggled with where to go next in life and ministry after college. Before deciding to attend the Seminary, he served as a program director at Lutheran Valley Retreat in Colorado for several years. “Now when I look back at my decision to work at camp versus going directly to the Seminary, I see how God used that time to build a joy and desire for sharing the Gospel with others in any setting,” he says. Former camp staffers say spiritual formation happened on a daily basis. “Camp is intense and intentional,” Hull says. “The everyday application of Law and

Gospel is very formative for future church workers.” That was true for Online Deaconess Studies (ODS) student Naomi Moon. “I learned about how to better provide spiritual care for people, evaluating whether someone was growing by being challenged, or harming themselves by pushing too hard,” recalls Moon, who served at Lutheran Valley Retreat in Colorado during college. Joseph Reineke, a fourth-year M.Div. student who attended and served at Camp Luther in Wisconsin, says he too learned important lessons that still resonate in his life. “Camp showed me the power of a community that surrounds you with Christ,” he says. “I hope to bring that into future congregations I serve.” Dr. Brian Gauthier, a Seminary alumnus and professor at Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, says camp taught him how to work in a team environment. “Sometimes you lead,” he explains. “Other times you play second chair. I came to understand the time and demands of full-time ministry during my camp experience. That made all the difference for me.” Biermann says he would do summer camp again if he could and encourages others to experience it for themselves if they can. “That’s how I’d spend my summers, no doubt,” he says. During his own camp experiences, “We did everything together, whether we all liked it or not,” he says. “This hike, that campout. We made breakfast together. And it was bad, but we did it together. And then you add studying and talking about God’s Word together every day. It makes a real impact.” To learn more about Lutheran camps and to see a complete directory, visit Deaconess Rebekah Lukas is a communications specialist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.





When first-year Deaconess Studies student Rachel McCloskey moved to Concordia Seminary’s campus in the fall of 2021, she felt like she was coming home. Indeed she was.

McCloskey said her year in Costa Rica was one of the best years of her life, but also one of the most challenging. She faced theological ideas that she had never come across before as she served alongside Christians from other denominations.

“Years ago, I was one of the barefoot Woods children, running around campus,” she said.

The theological dissonance propelled her into studying the Bible and theology, and pointed her solidly back to the confessional Lutheran theology she had known her entire life.

At the age of 6, she moved to campus with her parents, brother and twin sister. Her father was pursuing a Master of Divinity to become a pastor. She has fond memories of living on the western end of campus in the Seminary’s family apartments, which are affectionately known as the “Woods.” Her path from a young girl to a seminarian cemented her Lutheran identity, and on that foundation, spurred her desire to serve the church. But her path to vocational ministry wasn’t always clear.

A year in Costa Rica

Unsure what the next move would be after high school, McCloskey attended community college for a year. Then she found out about an opportunity to serve on a shortterm mission with Global Adventure Pursuit (GAP) in San José, Costa Rica. She worked and saved money to be able to participate.



“It all comes back to Baptism,” she said. “My non-Lutheran friends didn’t think Baptism meant anything other than something they did for Jesus. It turned into a worksrighteousness thing for them. They had no assurance that God loved them, that Baptism was God’s work for them. Thanks be to God, I had a lot of people, and a lot of books too, that helped me, especially Luther’s Large Catechism.” But after the year of ministry in Costa Rica, McCloskey still wasn’t ready to return to college.

On to Boston

She decided to apply and was accepted to serve a 10-month program with Lutheran Young Adult Corps in Boston. As part of the experience, she gathered clothing and personal care items for people without homes. She also worked at New England Seafarers Mission, an outreach ministry of a local church that provides spiritual and physical assistance to international seafarers.




Moved to St. Louis with her family while her father attended Seminary

SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA Spent a year serving as a shortterm missionary with Global Adventure Pursuit


Served for 10 months with Lutheran Young Adult Corps in Boston


Enrolled in the predeaconess program at Concordia University, Saint Paul

ST. LOUIS, MO Enrolled in the Seminary’s Deaconess Studies Program

Rachel McCloskey. Photo: Davin Alberson

She may not have been in college at this point, but McCloskey was in the school of real-life ministry. These experiences gave her clarity: She wanted a career in church work. She enrolled in the pre-deaconess program at Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minn. (CSP), where she majored in theology and minored in Spanish. Then came the coronavirus pandemic and all its uncertainty. In March 2020, CSP students were sent home to continue their studies virtually, as was the case for many students nationwide. She was excited to go back to CSP in person in August 2020 and to work in residence life and attend in-person classes. “It was the first time I was going to see my friends in forever,” she said. But after being back at CSP for a few days, she contracted the virus and later struggled with its after-effects. She suffered from extreme fatigue and other symptoms for 10 months.

residential program designed for women who seek to further their knowledge of theology and its applications to serve congregations and institutions of The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod as a deaconess. “I love being a part of the Seminary community,” she said. “I’m constantly encouraged by other Christians who don’t shy away from telling the truth and who are always ready to minister to one another with God’s Word,” she said. She has especially appreciated an introductory systematic theology course taught by Dr. Joel Okamoto, the Seminary’s Waldemar and Mary Griesbach Professor of Systematic Theology, and a spiritual care course with Dr. Gillian Bond, the director of the Deaconess Studies Program. “I’ve learned how important the theology of the cross is to spiritual care,” she said. “Suffering people need a compassionate, listening ear and to know the comfort found only in Christ.”

She finally was able to return to school in March 2021, a couple of months before graduation. She was overjoyed as she walked across the stage and received her diploma in person.

After she graduates, McCloskey said she is interested in serving overseas. “But I’m open to anything,” she said. “I’ve tried to tell God my plans before, and that’s always ended with good laughter. Then He shows me His plans.”

Seminary in St. Louis

Sarah Maney is a communications specialist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree, McCloskey enrolled in the Seminary’s Deaconess Studies Program, a three-year




Director of Christian Education Mark “Marcos” Kempff grew up the son of pioneer Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) missionaries to Latin America. He was called to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in 2008 and is currently serving as assistant to the director and an instructor in the Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS), and for several years, also served as assistant to the director for the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT). Earlier this spring, Kempff announced plans to retire effective Nov. 1, 2022.



DCE Mark Kempff. Photo: Davin Alberson

He previously served as a missionary educator in Venezuela and Panama from 1974 to 2008, and during his last years of service, was a theological education network facilitator for Latin American Lutheran churches. “Marcos has blessed our Seminary community and church at-large with a contagious joy in the Gospel and a missionary spirit that moves him to work sacrificially for our students,” said Dr. Leopoldo A. Sánchez M., director of CHS, professor of Systematic Theology and the Werner R.H. Krause Professor of Hispanic Ministries at Concordia Seminary. “The fruits of his service among immigrant students and churches will continue to bless the church for generations to come.”


Kempff holds a Bachelor of Science from Concordia Teachers College (now Concordia University Nebraska [CUNE]), Seward (1974); a Bachelor of Arts with certification as a Director of Christian Education (DCE) from Concordia College (now CUNE), Seward, Neb. (1986); and a Master of Social Sciences in family life ministry from CUNE (1996). Concordia Seminary magazine sat down with Marcos and heard his story.

Q. What led you to ministry?

A: My parents were my strongest influence, especially my father. He took me along on his ministry visits in the mission field, always involving me somehow. At home, all of us — I’m the oldest of 10 — would eat together. I dearly remember my father taking the time to sit next to me and talk about the day’s Bible text. I never felt called to be a pastor and my dad said, “That’s all right. The church needs all of us. There’s room for all of us.” I attended Concordia Teachers College in Seward, Neb., and suffered culture shock, living in a culture that spoke no Spanish. Growing up with the culture of my parents and the culture of the land in which we lived was very much tied to my decision to enter church work.

Q: How was your move to the Seminary?

A: Accepting the call to Concordia Seminary was a joyful moment and an exciting change for me and my wife, Ruth. We didn’t have a clue. It was all the Lord. When it is all the Lord’s doing there is reason for joy!

Q: What are the best parts of your job?

A: I always consider students as gifts from God. Bishop Tutu used an African expression often: “I am because we are.” That’s my delight in life: I am because of who we all are. In Seminary life, the enjoyment — and there are always challenges — is to work with others, to find where we connect. It’s not about knowing what they need and then helping them. It’s about how we can do this together.

Q: What motivates you?

A: I am committed to our students’ success. I want to provide an atmosphere that honors the person, underlining his or her value as a baptized child of God. What a joy and responsibility to work with, lead and teach somebody who

has that kind of value. That’s beautiful. That’s the motivation. Everything I do focuses on helping students succeed in becoming extraordinary pastors, deaconesses and leaders — people who are excited to serve their communities as instruments of peace so that others too can confess and rejoice as they have received life from the Lord.

Q: Any favorite memories from your almost 14 years at the Seminary? A: I become very emotional each Call Day and Commencement. When I sit there surrounded by families and see the students walk across and receive their call documents or their diplomas — that’s just absolute, total joy. I see them standing there, knowing the struggles they’ve had, the ups and downs, that they almost gave up but were encouraged and hung in there, finally getting it done. It’s just delightful. Absolutely delightful.

Q: Advice for future students?

A: Listen carefully to God’s Word. He calls us all to be part of His church. There is room for all! Ask questions of someone you trust: “Should I be a pastor? What does it mean to be a deaconess?” This is the Lord’s church. He will do incredible things, often through something tiny. For instance, during my first year at Seward, I was ready to quit and go home to Latin America. A professor invited me to lunch and said, “Don’t you dare leave! We can figure this out.” That lunch was a turning point, a significant 45 minutes. Somebody valued and honored me as a person. Not everybody is absolutely sure about what they want to do or be in life. People might come to the Seminary and think they’re alone. They’re not. They are surrounded by all of us. We care very much about them. The beauty is we figure it out together.

Q: What are your plans after retirement?

A: My prayer is to continue to serve and to do so to the best of my abilities, led by the Spirit Sculptor. And this will include time spent with family in Texas, Nebraska, Washington, Montana, Colorado, New Hampshire and, of course, Latin America. When needed, I would like to serve as a mentor and continue to teach. I will certainly pick up my interest in woodworking. Maybe even do some writing. Above everything, I stand ready to joyfully serve in Christ’s name. Deaconess Rebekah Lukas is a communications specialist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.



Decades of making disciples BY SARAH MANEY

Dr. Robert Holst. Photo: Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minn.

Dr. Robert Holst speaks six languages. Spent more than five decades working in ministry. Raised three children. Served as a missionary, professor and university president. And through all these roles, by the grace of God, he has pointed others to the one Savior. Holst, a native of Austin, Minn., graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity (1961) and Master of Sacred Theology (1963). He also met and married the love of his life, Lynne, during his time at the Seminary. In 1962, he received a call to serve as a missionary in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where he and his growing family would live for five years. His experiences included the inaugural translation of Bible stories and even Luther’s Small Catechism into the Ipili language. Holst says that his missionary experience was seminal for his future ministry, but he is quick to say that there are missionaries who have spent far longer working in PNG.



While he deeply values his time in PNG as a missionary, he is passionate about mission work here in the United States. “We are all missionaries,” said Holst. “To me, service in the United States is mission work. In some ways, it is tougher than when you’re in a tribe in the rainforest and you don’t have the distraction of this electronic world.” After Holst and his family returned to the United States in 1968, he began working toward a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. While he was at Princeton he taught Greek. He said exegetical study at his St. Louis alma mater prepared him for that opportunity. In 1970, Holst received a call to teach at Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Ind., where he taught for six years. In 1976, Holst went to Christ College in Irvine, Calif. (now Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., [CUI]) where he was one of the first of five professors when the school began, teaching Greek, Hebrew and Bible classes. While there,




Graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

Served as a missionary in Papua New Guinea

Began Ph.D. studies at Princeton Theological Seminary


he served as the first dean of students and later as dean of diversity.

minority communities and really working with the world and the church.

Every month of the school year, Holst would take a student group to Tijuana, Mexico, to work with Baja Lutheran Mission for a Saturday Bible school in an isolated barrio. During school breaks, Holst would take a group of students to the Lutheran Center in Mexico City for a two-week learning experience.

“Jesus said to His disciples ‘go to all nations.’ God has sent all nations to the Twin Cities. To have people with diverse backgrounds and cultures gathering together was not only Jesus’ will, but it was good education,” Holst said.

“What a city! What a history and culture! What great people,” Holst said. “The students learned to treasure the experience and the people. I myself learned Spanish and treasured the experiences in Mexico and Southern California.” In 1991, Holst was on sabbatical teaching at the Lutheran Seminary in Korea when he received a call to serve as president of Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minn. (CSP).

At CSP, Holst had the opportunity to lead devotions and Bible studies at many congregations, pastors’ conferences, retreats for lay people and some nearby district conventions. He also was the guest Bible study leader at annual missionaries’ conferences in Venezuela and Nigeria. Under Holst’s leadership, the CSP campus expanded and grew — constructing an addition to the chapel, a theater, library, stadium and an apartment-style dormitory building — and built support for student scholarships. In 2011, Holst retired from CSP.

“Concordia Seminary blessed my life and ... through me, Christ blessed others.”

It was painful for Holst to leave his Today he remains active in his church service at CUI behind, especially his and community, and he meditates time serving Hispanic communities, but daily on Scripture. He treasures Phil. he looked forward to his future — and 4:4ff (ESV), “Rejoice in the Lord always; the diversity of the community — in Saint again, I will say, Rejoice.” Paul. Holst notes that in 1991, Saint Paul Dr. Robert Holst had more new immigrants than any other But the Bible passage that is his “core love and city except New York and Los Angeles. “Many value” is Matt. 28:19-20 (ESV): “Go therefore and of these immigrants had experienced human hate make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of and had not heard about God’s love,” Holst said. CSP was the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching certainly a place for mission outreach and care through the them to observe all that I have commanded you. And venue of higher education. behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” “We worked to be theologically strong and open to sharing In that passage, Holst says that “Jesus is blessing His Christ’s love to all. We developed the mission statement that disciples with three ‘Greats.’ Great claim: All power is His. CSP still uses today, ‘The mission of Concordia University, Great Commission: Go and make disciples everywhere. St. Paul, a university of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Great promise: He’ll be with you. Those verses call, guide Synod, is to prepare students for thoughtful and informed and bless me. They also reflect the education and call living, for dedicated service to God and humanity and for that Concordia Seminary gave me. Concordia Seminary enlightened care of God’s creation all in the context of the blessed my life and I think that through me, Christ blessed Christian Gospel.’” others. I pray so.” Holst was enthusiastic about CSP being academically strong and a mission arm of the church. He also was intentional Sarah Maney is a communications specialist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. about developing relationships with the surrounding




Joined the faculty at Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Began teaching at Christ College Irvine, Calif. (now Concordia University, Irvine)

Received a call to serve as president of Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minn. He retired in 2011. CONCORDIA SEMINARY, ST. LOUIS


What does sharing the Gospel have to do with planting soybeans in Brazil? Quite a bit, actually. A Lutheran pastor named Albert Lehenbauer introduced soybeans to the German immigrant community of Santa Rosa in the 1920s. Over the ensuing decades, the Brazilian soybean industry grew into the largest in the world. And from generation to generation, the Lehenbauer family has produced pastors, teachers and other church workers for service within The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). “Church work is our family business,” said Pam (Lehenbauer) Nummela, a retired teacher. “The legacy of church work is a huge part of our family definition.” It all began with a Lutheran farmer named Johann Konrad Christian Lehenbauer, who emigrated from Oettingen, Germany, more than 150 years ago. According to family records, he was the first Lehenbauer to attend Concordia Seminary, where he often worked as the buggy driver for Dr. C.F.W. Walther, the founder and first president of the Seminary and the first president of the LCMS. While Johann withdrew from his pastoral studies after contracting a fever, the family’s ministerial roots rapidly grew. Four of his five sons became pastors, and two of his four daughters married into pastors’ families. s

“Perhaps inspired by their father’s unfulfilled dream of becoming an LCMS pastor, all four boys fulfilled that dream for him vicariously,” said Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) and the great-grandson of Walther’s buggy driver. Over the years, the Lehenbauers have served in South America and throughout the United States. They have served as LCMS district presidents in Brazil, Kansas and New England. Many of the family’s church workers can be traced to Conrad Lehenbauer, Johann’s son. By birth or marriage, four generations of his family have produced 24 pastors — more than half of whom attended Concordia Seminary. The Lehenbauer family legacy extends beyond pastors; many others serve the Lord in various other vocations.




Chief among them were the late Arno and Virginia Lehenbauer, who established the Lehenbauer Scholarship


Endowment at Concordia Seminary in 1986. Their generosity and foresight continue to benefit the church. Nummela said various family members regularly add to the endowment as they are able and she invites others to do the same. “We don’t have a lot of money,” she said, “but there are a lot of us.” First-year deaconess student Alyssa Lehenbauer is the latest in the family to attend Concordia Seminary. “It’s cool to be part of a family that is so involved in doing God’s work, whether it is in direct ministry or in vocational ministry,” she said. “For every one of us in direct church work, there is another who is actively serving God through his or her vocation.”

President Dr. Karl L. Barth in the 1980s. Osmar Lehenbauer is the parish pastor who married and ordained President Emeritus Dr. Dale A. Meyer in Chicago Heights, Ill. Marlin Rempfer guided President Dr. Thomas J. Egger during his teenage years in Muscatine, Iowa.

“We don’t have a lot of money, but there are a lot of us.”

“(Rempfer’s) faithful and sincere preaching, teaching and encouragement meant a great deal to me as a youth, and still today,” Egger said. “He encouraged me to consider serving as a pastor, and he involved me in small but meaningful ways in the life of the congregation.”

And through the Lehenbauer Scholarship Endowment, a family legacy that started with a seed will continue to bear fruit for generations to come. Said Seminary Senior Gift Officer Laura Thomas: “What has been most evident to me in my conversations with the Lehenbauers is that the Gospel is spread and the church is built through the generations and heritage of faithful service.”

Pam (Lehenbauer) Nummela

That faithfulness, passed on from generation to generation, is how the Lehenbauer family has blessed at least four of the 11 presidents to date of Concordia Seminary. Johann Konrad Christian Lehenbauer drove Walther’s buggy. Arno Lehenbauer served on the Board of Regents under the late

Michael Stainbrook is a fourth-year Master of Divinity student at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.





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New student Orientation

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Donate today to help fund these service projects to benefit our students. Learn more and make a gift at



What’s happening

Giving Tuesday sets record Hundreds of friends and supporters of Concordia Seminary came together and set a record for donations on Giving Tuesday, the global day of philanthropy held the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 30, 2021. Some 355 donors contributed $95,150, exceeding this year’s campaign goal by 36% and all previous tallies for the Seminary’s Giving Tuesday campaigns. The Seminary’s 2021 Giving Tuesday goal of $70,000 included a dollar-fordollar matching gift up to the first $35,000 raised. All Giving Tuesday gifts will be used where needed most in the Seminary’s ongoing mission to prepare the church’s future pastors, deaconesses, missionaries and other church leaders. “From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!” said Vicki Biggs, senior vice president of Seminary Advancement and chief communications officer. “It is wonderfully exciting and thoroughly humbling to see so many of our friends come together at once and give so generously in support of our mission. We are truly and deeply grateful for this awesome display of love for our students and support for their preparation for service to the Gospel.” Pictured above: Concordia Seminary students enjoy doughnuts on Giving Tuesday. Photo: Rebekah Lukas



Seminary celebrates anniversaries Concordia Seminary recognized service anniversaries of 14 faculty and staff members Dec. 1 in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. Their combined experience totaled 530 years of service to the church. Pictured above: From left, front row: Dr. Richard Marrs, Dr. David Wollenburg, Dr. Joel Okamoto and Dr. Douglas L. Rutt. Second row: Dr. Gillian Bond, Dr. Kent Burreson and Rev. Paul Sieveking. Photo: Davin Alberson



Pastors prep at Pre-Lenten Workshop

LCMS seminaries partner for $1M grant

Concordia Seminary hosted its annual Pre-Lenten Workshop Jan. 21 to equip pastors to proclaim God’s Word from Ash Wednesday to Easter. About 40 pastors attended the workshop, “You Meant it for Evil, but God Meant it for Good: Sermons based on Luke 22:1-24:12” with Professor Emeritus Dr. Jeffrey Gibbs. The sermon series is available for digital download at

The two seminaries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) will work in partnership to implement a recently awarded $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish the project, “Partnership for Pastoral Formation: Setting Our Course for Future Church Leadership.” The grant was awarded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders both now and into the future. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., will work together to apply the funding in support of their joint efforts to increase pastoral formation student enrollment, strengthen their faculty pipelines, and develop a continuum of pastoral leadership and post-seminary education opportunities.This grant is one of 84 awarded to theological schools in the United States and Canada through the second phase of the Pathways initiative.

Pictured above: Dr. Jeffrey Gibbs. Photo: Davin Alberson

Pictured above: The campuses of Concordia Seminary and Concordia Theological Seminary.



Epiphany Hymn Festival Weekend shines As part of the year-long Concordia Seminary Concert Series, the Epiphany Hymn Festival was held Feb. 6 in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. Dr. James Marriott, the Kreft Chair for Music Arts and director of Music Arts, played the organ and directed vocal and string ensembles as the assembly sang Epiphany hymns. Dean of Chapel Dr. Jon Vieker served as the liturgist, and noted hymnist Rev. Stephen Starke provided commentary on many of the hymns selected for this special service. One day earlier, Starke hosted the inaugural Prevallet Hymn Writing Workshop. Pictured above: The congregation joins in song during the Epiphany Hymn Festival. Photo: Harold Rau



Students from four programs receive calls, vicarages Concordia Seminary students across multiple programs have received their first calls into ministry and vicarage assignments in recent months. Eight students from the Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS), Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT), Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) programs received their first calls Nov. 5 in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. Seventeen more students from the SMP Program received their calls Jan. 14. On Feb. 10, 18 new students in the SMP Program and Cross-cultural Ministry Center (CMC) Program received their vicarage assignments. All of the students serve in congregations and ministries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). For more information, visit Pictured above: Some of the students who received calls and vicarages in the chapel. Photos: Sarah Maney and Rebekah Lukas


Alumni games benefit CFNA Competitive camaraderie came to the basketball court Feb. 11 for the fifth annual “Hoops for Hope” competition featuring the Concordia Seminary Preachers vs. Seminary alumni players in two back-to-back games. The games took place in Pederson Field House on the Seminary’s campus. Both teams gave a valiant effort, but in the end, the Preachers defeated the alumni 77-71 in the first game and 84-79 in the second. “Lessons learned at Pederson Field House have helped many pastors in their preparations for working and playing well with others. As the saying on the wall puts it, they’ve learned to be ‘modest in victory’ and ‘gracious in defeat,’” said Preachers head coach Dr. Peter Nafzger, who also serves as assistant professor of Practical Theology and director of student life. “The alumni games have become a great opportunity for pastors and future pastors to come together and share memories.” The games also raised money for Christian Friends of New Americans (CFNA), an outreach ministry among immigrants and refugees in the greater St. Louis area. Pictured above: Preachers player Noah Pieper prepares to make a shot during one of the alumni basketball games. Photo: Michael Thomas

Lay Bible Institute focuses on 1 Peter More than 60 people participated in the Lay Bible Institute at Concordia Seminary Feb. 12. Seminary President Emeritus Dr. Dale A. Meyer led the session, “Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow,” which focused on 1 Peter. Topics included unmasking the influences of public culture upon church life, faith and good works, truth and emotions, the fear of God and whether “forgiveness” communicates. Pictured above: Dr. Dale A. Meyer. Photo: Davin Alberson



Seminary introduces SemGEM monthly giving program Supporters of Concordia Seminary can enjoy the convenience of sustainable giving with the Seminary’s new “Give Every Month” program, or SemGEM. “Monthly gifts — of any size — make an ongoing impact on the Seminary’s vital mission of preparing the church’s future pastors, deaconesses and other ministry leaders,” said Vicki Biggs, senior vice president of Seminary Advancement and chief communications officer. “With the launch of SemGEM, recurring giving makes it easier than ever for donors to support the Seminary.” Donors can choose to make their gift to the Seminary in regular monthly installments from a credit or debit card. For more information, visit or contact Seminary Advancement at 800-822-5287 or 26


Multiethnic Symposium highlights urban ministry With 70% of the world’s population projected to live in cities across the globe by 2050, now is an exciting time for the church to “rise and go to the city.” That’s the thematic catalyst behind Concordia Seminary’s 2022 Multiethnic Symposium, “Rise and Enter the City: The Hopeful Church in the Multiethnic City,” presented in-person and online in partnership with Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minn. Set for May 3-4 on the Seminary campus, participants will explore the biblical, artistic and missional perspectives that emanate from diverse ethnic churches and communities, particularly in the United States. The annual symposium brings together missional leaders including pastors, congregational lay leaders and others from across The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The symposium explores what it means and what it will take to become a truly multiethnic church. Learn more at




Prof Insights

Faculty-Led Workshop Series map-marker-alt Various locations nationwide laptop Register by: Two weeks before each workshop

Lay Bible Institute Prophet, Prostitute and Prodigals: Hosea’s and the LORD’s Relentless Pursuit



user Dr. Kevin Golden map-marker-alt Concordia Seminary, St. Louis laptop Register by: July 22, 2022 • Fee: $20

Theological Symposium 2022



map-marker-alt Concordia Seminary, St. Louis laptop Register by: Coming soon!

NEW FROM .org VIDEO INTERVIEW: Dr. David Schmitt, the Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Professor of Homiletics and Literature at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, talks with Lutheran theology scholar Dr. Dean Nadasdy about his recent publication of The Beautiful Sermon: Image and the Aesthetics of Preaching. The book is the first title in The Conversations in Preaching Series from Concordia Seminary Press. BLOG POST: Watch and read more about some of the short film finalists from the Faith and Film Festival. This year, because of the ambiguities of the pandemic, the January festival was canceled.









Since 1839, Concordia Seminary has been equipping people for a lifetime of ministry. Today, the Seminary offers ministerial formation programs that prepare pastors and deaconesses, and advanced degrees. Residential and distance studies are readily available.




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