Concordia Seminary | Fall/Winter 2019

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UNPACKING THE ACADEMIC YEAR THEME

#GIVEGREENANDGOLD DAY RAISES $26K FOR STUDENT AID

SEMINARIANS LIVING LIVES OF SIGNIFICANCE


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FIRST LOOK New students learn the importance of serving others during our annual servant event that is part of Orientation week. Here, new Residential Alternate Route student Joshua Hahn, left, helps clean a storage room at the Peace Center in St. Louis with two other workers. Photo: Jill Gray

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FROM THE

president ON THE THE COVER COVER ON

Brian Crocitto, a new Specific Ministrycaption Pastor Program student, helps clean a community garden as part of an Orientation servant event Aug. 21. Photo: Jill Gray

PUBLISHER Dale A. Meyer EXECUTIVE EDITOR PUBLISHER Vicki Biggs Dale A. Meyer MANAGING EDITOR EDITOR EXECUTIVE Melanie Ave Vicki Biggs ART DIRECTOR MANAGING EDITOR Jayna Rollings Melanie Ave DESIGNERS ART DIRECTOR Michelle Poneleit Jayna Jayna Rollings Rollings DESIGNERS WRITERS Michelle Poneleit Melanie Ave Jayna VickiRollings Biggs Sarah Maney Douglas L. Rutt WRITERS Travis Maney Scholl Sarah EricaMattson Tape Daniel Lisa Mills PHOTOGRAPHERS Travis Scholl Kim Braddy Jarod Fenske PHOTOGRAPHERS Jill Gray Gray Jill Sid Hastings Hastings Sid Courtney Koll Courtney Koll Sarah Maney Sarah Maney Harold Rau Michelle Poneleit Bridgette Sharp Harold Rau Erica Tape

Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer shares one of the newspapers from his collection with students during Opening Service Aug. 23. Photo: Jill Gray

A cup of caffeine while watching the news gets my mind going every morning. Some weeks ago Diane said, “The whole country has gone berserk.” Isn’t that true? More than ever before in my lifetime, our culture and world is mad and maddening. Thank God for you and for our Concordia Seminary community! God’s grace, mercy and peace make our lives significant in His mission to the neighbor next door or on the other side of the world. In my sermon for the opening of this 181st academic year, I put it to our students: “With all the suffering and the sin in our cities, in our nation and in our world, why are you holing up in a secluded gothic seminary to study theology? I mean, really? The world wonders, ‘What’s that about?’ In John 9:1-5 Jesus’ disciples wanted to talk theology. When they saw a man blind from birth, they asked, ‘Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?’ These students saw a fellow human being as an object lesson for talking about sin, but Jesus resisted the trap to theologize about another person. Instead He said, ‘It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” At Concordia Seminary, doing theology is not an end in itself; we get into the Word of God, into our Lutheran Confessions and countless books of theology only as a means to bring the works of Christ to hurting individuals. We dare not be cocooned in this seminary, nor dare you be cocooned in a country club congregation. Martin Luther wrote, “A Christian lives not in himself, but in Christ and in his neighbor. Otherwise he is not a Christian. He lives in Christ through faith and in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself and to God and by love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor.” A TV commentator was talking about yet another mass shooting and said these shooters take other people’s lives and even their own because they see no value in life. Yes, we do theology here, but we do theology as a means to bring God’s grace, mercy and peace to others. Dr. Thomas Long of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., makes a significant point that we do well to keep in mind: The pastor who is preparing a sermon for Sunday goes to the Scriptures on behalf of the people. Concordia Seminary’s mission of preparing pastors and deaconesses, providing continuing education resources and graduate programs is on behalf of all people in this sin-darkened world. You and I dare never retire our sense of urgency for Jesus’ mission to real people. “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4-5 ESV).

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

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

FALL/WINTER 2019 ISSUE FEATURES 6 Living, leading lives of significance: unpacking the academic year theme

10 Seminarians living lives of significance

IN EVERY ISSUE

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4 From the President 16 Student Spotlight 18 Faculty Focus 20 News Worth Noting 28 Alumni and Friends 30 Support Your Sem

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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 magazine@csl.edu. Congregations may request copies in bulk for distribution within their churches. Copyright ŠDecember 2019, 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.

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Living, leading lives of significance

UNPACKING THE ACADEMIC YEAR THEME BY DOUGLAS L. RUTT

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Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life? What difference does my life make? How is it significant? It seems that human beings, since time immemorial, have occupied themselves with these questions. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato (428-348 BC) is said to have defined humanity along those terms: “Man is a being in search of meaning.” He must have been right, for even today, thousands of books are available on Amazon with the title, or very close to this, “a life of significance,” and, if you Google it, depending on the search terms you use, you are likely to come up with close to a billion results. Yes, 1 billion! Contemporary philosophers and psychologists have analyzed the significance of life and whether it even exists from many angles. Is there such a thing as meaning and purpose if there is no Creator? How do people construct meaning in their lives? Are people searching for an illusion? One recent article from Psychology Today suggests that it is better and healthier to give up on the quest for an ultimate purpose in life, especially one that is based on a purpose originating in a notion of a divine being. The author concludes, “And so the meaning of life, of our life, is that which we choose to give it.”

LEADING A LIFE OF SIGNIFICANCE IS SOMETHING THAT COMES FROM OUTSIDE OF OURSELVES — IT IS A GIFT OF GOD. — DOUGLAS L. RUTT

Much of what is published on the subject of leading a life of significance is in the category of “self-help” resources. It’s not all bad in terms of the possible lifestyle choices one makes and the self-talk that one employs to guide one’s life. It is quite logical that if you take certain steps toward healthier living or make CONTINUED ON PAGE 8 >

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“good choices,” in general your life may improve. Yet, in many cases, the plethora of advice on how to lead a life of significance directs you back to yourself, to the steps you must take or changes you must make, to lead a more rewarding, fruitful and significant life.

Much of the advice has titles such as, “Seven steps toward a life of significance,” or “The five habits toward creating a life of significance,” with sage advice such as “change your thoughts, change your life,” or “assess your dreams, and work toward them.” The problem is that such advice, in and of itself, can lead to despair and even hopelessness. It is not always that simple, as if one can simply make up his or her mind to change and bring it about through sheer force of will. As the great Apostle Paul said about his own experience, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:19 ESV). King David made some pretty bad choices, but eventually he knew that if he were going to change, it would be God’s doing: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10 ESV). He recognized that he was powerless to transform his life by his own power and strength.

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And so, when we established this year’s theme for Concordia Seminary — “Grace. Mercy. Peace. Lives of Significance.” — we did so with a clear

understanding that our lives have significance because they are significant to God. Each and every human being born into this world is created by God, loved by God, redeemed by God’s Son and therefore is a significant life in and of itself. We should never lose sight of that. Leading a life of significance is something that comes from outside of ourselves — it is a gift of God. That is why the preface to our theme includes how or why we can lead lives of significance. It is because of God’s grace, mercy and peace. The significant life is possible because of God’s grace — His loving kindness toward all humanity. And that grace is offered to us because of His mercy — His compassion toward those


of us who, apart from His grace, are “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36 ESV). Peace is what we can then experience in our quest for significance. Our lives are significant because they are significant to God. We can rest in Him and stop striving after our own pride, on the one hand, or wallowing in despair over our failures, on the other. Sometimes we can be tempted to believe that leading a life of significance means prestige, recognition and perhaps fame. We may think that, while we make contributions toward the greater good, they are not that significant. Nobody even cares. But that is to look in the wrong place for significance. As the psalmist said, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor” (Ps. 84:10-11a ESV).

To be a doorkeeper in the context of this psalm is to be in one of the lowest places of servitude. And the implication of being in the “tents of wickedness” is to be in a place of ease and worldly recognition. But the psalmist recognizes that the life of significance comes from the Lord Himself, for it is He who “bestows favor and honor.” While a life of significance is a life of faith in Christ, our significance also should be seen in relationship to others. Every person, in his or her own vocation — as a mother, father, employer, employee, teacher, student, etc. — is significant to those around him or her. Some say that the chief purpose in man is “to

glorify God.” Yet, we remember that, as Gustaf Wingren has said, “God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.” Perhaps a more accurate way to put it is that what God calls us to is love — love toward Him and love toward our neighbor. To love our neighbor is to lead a life of significance. As we begin the new academic year at Concordia Seminary, one of the greatest pleasures of being associated with our community is to see the amazing enthusiasm and commitment that our 600plus students have toward their Lord Jesus and His Word. They have left many things behind to study at the Seminary. Many could have other career opportunities. Many could find more high-paying jobs. They are not seeking fame or fortune — that would not be a life of true significance. Yet they want to lead a life of significance. They know that our significance comes from God, but their sincere desire is to make known to others that a life of significance can

be theirs too. They know that to teach, proclaim and live out the love of God — His grace, His mercy and His peace — is a highly significant way of expressing love toward our neighbor, and is a highly significant way of, well, living a life of significance. Dr. Douglas L. Rutt is provost and professor of Practical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

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SEMINARIANS LIVING LIVES OF

significance

BY MELANIE AVE

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Parts of Joshua Hileman’s life story could be taken right from an action movie or fantastical novel. As a U.S. Marine, he jumped aboard ships in the Mediterranean Sea, chasing pirates involved in human and drug trafficking and weapons smuggling. He never knew whether traps awaited him or what he would face once aboard. Later, while deployed in Afghanistan, he survived four improvised explosive device blasts and received a Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained while in combat.

He’s now studying for his Master of Divinity (M.Div.). Rev. Martin Dressler, the son of a former atheist who attended Baptist schools as a boy, dreamed of becoming a concert pianist and wasn't convinced of Lutheranism until college.

After earning an M.Div., he’s now studying for his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Rev. Joseph Abuor was raised by staunchly Lutheran parents — in Kenya, Africa.

He’s now studying for his Master of Arts (M.A.). These men are just three of hundreds of students enrolled at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis this academic year. They are all ages, from all walks of life, from all over the world, from many backgrounds. While different in many ways, they all share a commitment to serve God, to go wherever He leads and to live a life of significance because of and thanks to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “When I hear these stories that bring men and women to our Seminary, it just amazes me how the Holy Spirit works in people’s lives,” said Dean of Ministerial Formation Dr. Timothy Saleska. “There are some with definite conversion experiences, people from the other end of life’s spectrum who come here. It just thrills me to hear about the people who are coming here to serve the church. Sometimes I scratch my head and think, ‘How in the world did this person get here from where they were in their lives?’ “You have people who were unbelievers 10 years ago, even atheists, who were touched by the Word of God by some person and brought into the church and brought into the faith and here they are. It’s amazing to me.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 >

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THE TUG Joshua Hileman remembers well the tug at his heart and the words shared with him when he was a high school sophomore by friends and family members: You would make a good pastor someday. Someday. Growing up outside of Seattle, in Auburn, Wash., Joshua was active in his church and youth group. He recognized the ins and outs of ministry. He could see himself as a pastor. He even discussed the idea with his youth pastor. Time, however, moved on and so did Joshua. The tug seemed to vanish, the words of encouragement toward pastoral ministry pushed down in his consciousness. “I was like, you know what, I’m going to do my own thing,” he recalls. Someday became no way. He got married, became a father, joined the Marines. During two deployments, he saw a lot of combat and “things that I think we’re not supposed to see.” It was the depravity of man, up close and personal. He saw people die and limbs blown off. “When you’re faced with life and death on a minuteby-minute, second-by-second basis, your view of the world shifts,” he says. “You’re brought from this false sense of security to this understanding that there really is evil and sin in the world and death is definitely a possibility.” Joshua received a Purple Heart for the injuries he suffered to his abdomen during combat. He chose to take a medical retirement from the Marines and complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He had a good job, a good salary, nice possessions. He was on the fast track. Still, he pondered the direction his post-military life should take and the old conversations of his youth eventually crept back. Joshua Hileman. Photo: Jill Gray

And then … “My son came over to me one day and asked, ‘Daddy, what does it mean to follow Jesus?’ He was 7. I just stood there,” Joshua recalls. “A weight just took over. I had this feeling that I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing.”

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Rev. Martin Dressler teaches a group of middle school students at Salem Lutheran School in Florissant, Mo. Photo: Bridgette Sharp

THE PULL Many students come to the Seminary after being encouraged by a pastor, a teacher, a church friend or family member who saw in them gifts for the ministry. That was true for Rev. Martin Dressler, pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Florissant, Mo., who grew up in North Carolina, one of two sons of a German father and South African mother. Each Sunday, his father, a former atheist, would open up the Bible and lead the family in a study. “I knew that for him to take the time to do that, it must be very important,” Martin recalls. That weekly study grew in Martin a deep interest in theology. Martin was only 13 when his father died from colon cancer. It was a difficult time. But his father’s last words to him one day before he died — “See ya bud.” — left Martin with hope. He knew he would see his father again. Someday. “Having to wrestle with that and having hope in that situation became a driving force in my life,” he says. “We grieve,” he says, citing 1 Thess. 4:13, “but not as those who have no hope.” The pull toward ministry and the desire to share the hope of Christ with others grew even stronger for Martin in high school thanks to weekly talks with his paternal grandfather.

“I was having a hard time deciding whether I should go into theology or music at that point,” Martin remembers. “My grandfather said, ‘I suppose ministry takes precedence although Luther did say music is the next best thing.’” Martin decided to pursue a career in music when he enrolled at Concordia College New York, Bronxville. But it was not to be. As he stood in line during freshman orientation, he was told the college had just dropped its music major. “I was grateful that the decision was made for me,” he says. It is a decision from which he has never looked back. The married father of four earned his M.Div. from the Seminary and received his first call to pastoral ministry in 2013. Now he is striving to fulfill the vocations God has given him — husband, father, son, pastor and student. “Ultimately I think this is something every human being wrestles with,” he says. “One of the things that being so busy has really forced me to reckon with is this idea of dying to myself. That’s one of the things that Scripture talks about all the time.” The Ph.D. he will earn at Concordia Seminary is more than another academic title or diploma to hang on his wall. “I’m not doing it for its own sake,” he says. “It’s a means to an end, to become a better teacher, a better pastor.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 14 > CONCORDIA SEMINARY, ST. LOUIS

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THE DESIRE The desire to bring Jesus to people and share the hope that can only be found in the Gospel is what drives Rev. Joseph Abuor of Kisumu, Kenya. Joseph moved to St. Louis in August to begin the Seminary’s M.A. Program after having earned a diploma and degree in theology in his home country. Joseph is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod partner church, and an instructor at Neema Lutheran College in Matongo, Kenya. He is attending the Seminary to further his understanding of Scripture and to take that knowledge back to his church and to the people of Kenya. With his eye on the end goal, he has made the sacrifice to be apart from his wife and three children — admittedly a challenge — to complete his advanced degree. For Joseph, living a life of significance means embracing “a life that has been salted and changed by the grace of God so much that one can’t help but share it with his or her neighbor.” There is a great need for instructors and lecturers with advanced degrees at Neema, Joseph says, which attracts students from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia and Sudan as well as from throughout Kenya.

“PEOPLE ARE PERISHING BECAUSE OF A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE. EVEN THE LAITY SHOULD BE TAUGHT, NOT JUST PREACHED TO, BUT TAUGHT IN SOUND LUTHERAN THEOLOGY.”

— Joseph Abuor

Rev. Joseph Abuor. Photo: Jill Gray

“It is like we have a small island in Africa that can offer confessional Lutheran theological knowledge,” he says. “When I go back to Kenya, the church will count it as a blessing. “People are perishing because of a lack of knowledge,” he says. “Even the laity should be taught, not just preached to, but taught in sound Lutheran theology. I am going to intensify the teaching of the laity so that they can be the correctors or the custodians of the doctrine. You can’t be a custodian of what you don’t know.”

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THE PATH Joshua Hileman is now in his final year at the Seminary. This spring, he will receive his first call to serve the Lord of the harvest. The path to a life in ministry has not been the shortest or the easiest for Joshua and his family. The Hilemans are well-known around the Seminary for being the family whose moving van, car and all of their belongings were stolen during their move from North Carolina to the Seminary nearly four years ago. With almost no possessions when they arrived on campus, they moved into their apartment with camping chairs, a cooler and some borrowed beds for their children. “We were just kind of lost,” he says. “We didn’t know what to do.” It was not long until word of their situation spread, and they started receiving gifts and support from people and congregations all over the country. Normally on the other side of helping people, the family found themselves in unfamiliar territory. “God’s people rallied around us,” he remembers. “It was a humbling learning experience.” Police in Tennessee and Georgia eventually found the family’s stolen car and their moving van. But almost all of their possessions — his wife’s wedding gown, his children’s toys, and his military uniform and Purple Heart — were gone. Joshua is now on the path to the parish. He and his wife, Christina, are looking forward to shepherding God’s people through the ups and downs of life. “We’ve spent 90 percent of our lives in those struggles and hardships, in that muck and mire of daily life,” he says. “We have a passion for sharing Christ with people who don’t know Him or who have been spurned or hurt by the church, or with people who have experienced loss. We too have experienced loss and we can speak into those moments.” Someday is now for Joshua. He believes second-career ministry is exactly the path God had planned for his life. Despite the family’s early financial struggles as newlyweds.

The life and death struggles he faced in Afghanistan. The four surgeries he has endured. And the loss of almost all of their positions. “He’s brought me here to say, ‘You are not in control. I am in control. You are my vehicle,’” Joshua says. “‘You are one of many who I will use to grow My kingdom.’ It’s like He’s saying, ‘There are going to be challenges and you may not see hope in them. That’s good. Your hope should not be in those moments or things. It’s about you putting your faith and trust in Me.’” Melanie Ave is communications manager at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

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‘How do we catch people?’ SEMINARIAN LONGS TO REACH THE LOST BY SARAH MANEY

“The path to Seminary has been a winding road,” says fourth-year Master of Divinity student Paul Dickerson. In 2015, Paul was working as an attorney and investing time as congregation president at University Lutheran Chapel (ULC), located on the University of Michigan campus. His wife, Pamela, managed The Common Cup, a coffee shop and ministry of ULC. They were raising two kids. Their lives were busy to say the least. But being a part of ministry offered the couple a feeling of purpose that they did not find anywhere else. The Dickersons loved how people from all walks of life converged at The Common Cup. “I remember seeing three groups in the coffee shop,” Paul says. “One was a group of students talking about the human brain — studying neurophysiology. Another group was practicing conversational French. The third was having a Bible study. Here they were, together, having conversations side by side about faith and learning.” For those who had never gone to church, the coffee shop was a welcome space. For those students who felt that their faith had to be hidden, they could comfortably meet for a Bible study or prayer. “Years ago, the church used to be at the center of everything,” Paul says. “If you think of the culture as a river and the church was in the center of that river, we 16

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[the church] would catch people. But now, the church is sidelined. And that river is still flowing with people. So how do we reach them?” That question proved to be a catalyst for Paul’s journey to becoming a seminarian and a future pastor. “I started to think about what it would be like to leave the prosecutor’s office and be in private practice with churches as clients in some capacity. I thought perhaps I could represent churches and help them to align their practices and organization with their mission and ministry goals,” Paul says. “The more my wife and I looked at it, the more we thought perhaps Seminary was an option, and


STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

that God was inviting us to that,” Paul says. “We talked with several family members, friends and pastors — and had people praying for us. Ultimately, we made the decision to come to Concordia Seminary.”

in His Word, and what the Holy Spirit is saying through His church,” Paul says. “Where do those things meet up? Because that’s where you have a chance to speak the Gospel into a situation that’s meaningful.”

In June 2016, Paul and his family moved into the married apartments on campus, affectionately known as “the Woods.”

Paul still attends Christ Memorial and is finishing up his field work there this year, his last at the Seminary. Like the coffee shop at ULC, Paul appreciates the “mission platforms” that Christ Memorial offers to the public — a child care center and theater ministry and even a free fitness center, complete with personal trainers.

He has appreciated how exegetical classes have taught him the right way to approach a biblical text. But the preaching and teaching classes have been the ones that he keeps “coming back to,” especially during his vicarage last year at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Mo. “One of the key takeaways from my time on vicarage was that as a pastor, in some sense, you are always teaching. Whether in a sermon, a class or pastoral care, you’re always teaching ‘What does this mean?’ to a particular person or group of people,” Paul says. “It’s not the only way to approach it, but it seems like teaching is one of these lenses you can run almost everything through. One of the questions I’ve been asking a lot since coming back from vicarage is, ‘How would you teach that?’” Paul’s vicarage supervisor, Rev. Jeff Cloeter or “Pastor Jeff,” senior pastor of Christ Memorial, explained to him that being a pastor requires four main tasks: listening, preaching, prayer and leadership. It was listening — in the broadest sense — that Paul would often revisit. “For me listening means listening to the Word, listening to leaders, listening to people in the congregation — what are they talking about and going through, and listening to the broader culture — really working to pay attention to what God is saying

“We have to ask ‘how do we catch people?’ It’s this idea of having platforms that reach out into society that’s important,” he says. “It doesn’t mean that people are going to say yes when we reach out, but it does mean they’re having contact with you and even if they don’t show up every Sunday, I think in some way, many people have come to say, ‘That’s my church. That’s my pastor.’” As his fourth year of pastoral formation comes to a close, he is considering his future call. “I hope for a congregation that is willing to look out,” Paul says. “One of the rules of groups in general is that there’s this gravitational pull — to see only the people who are already here. You can’t get away from it. “But being aware of it helps you structure your day and your ministries and what you emphasize to intentionally turn out and look and see — who are the others who aren’t here yet that need to be?” Sarah Maney is a communications specialist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

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A pastor or Christian counselor? Both. BY TRAVIS SCHOLL

This past September, Dr. Richard “Rick” Marrs, associate professor of Practical Theology at Concordia Seminary, published the book Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered. Publishing a book is, for any writer, the culmination of a long, often tedious, process. But for Marrs, it was the culmination of a question that has nagged his life, work and ministry for decades. It was the answer to a question he had been asking since college, when he first started considering God’s calling for his life’s work. Mentored by Professor John Saleska at the old St. John’s College in Winfield, Kan., and then a psychology major at Concordia College, River Forest (now Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill.), the 20-year-old Marrs felt himself pulled in what he thought were two very distinct directions: “Do I want to be a pastor or do I want to be a Christian counselor?” After graduating, he initially deferred answering the question by working as a department manager at a grain elevator for seven months. Then he decided to take a few courses at Concordia Seminary to test the

IT WAS NO LONGER AN EITHER/OR. IT COULD BE A BOTH/AND.

Dr. Richard Marrs. Photo: Jill Gray

waters. It was during this time that he took a course in pastoral counseling by Professor Martin Haendschke in which they read a book that was popular at the time, Competent to Counsel by Jay E. Adams. As the students struggled to come to terms with what bothered them about the book, Haendschke crystallized their wrestling in a way Marrs would never forget.

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“After a long silence,” Marrs recalls, “he looked at us and said, ‘The book doesn’t distinguish Law and Gospel.’ At that moment, the light bulb went off in my head.” But then life took a turn in a different direction. He accepted a position as an admissions counselor at his alma mater, St. John’s College, while also working on a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Kansas. After finishing the degree, he began teaching counseling and psychology at St. John’s. When the


FACULTY FOCUS

college was closed in 1986, Marrs moved to Concordia, River Forest to teach in the psychology department there. While at River Forest, Marrs completed his Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and became a licensed psychologist in Illinois. But after a while, Rick and his wife, Laura, along with their young family, didn’t feel quite at home in the Chicago area. That is when the question arose again. After much prayer and soul searching, the Marrs family moved to St. Louis, and Rick enrolled in Concordia Seminary’s Residential Alternate Route Program with a deferred vicarage. After finishing the program, he was called to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Junction City, Kan. During the summers, he returned to campus to complete a Master of Divinity degree. As the congregation grew under his leadership, he planned to stay in parish ministry for a long time. Then, in 2006, Concordia Seminary came calling. The Seminary needed someone to teach pastoral care and counseling. But they wanted somebody who understood the demands of pastoral

guilt and shame. Marrs began to lead presentations on how to integrate a Law-Gospel framework into Christian counseling, including presenting a sectional at an AACC meeting that attracted nearly 250 people. He discovered that non-Lutheran counseling professionals were drawn like flies to honey. The idea for the book took root. At the heart of the book are Martin Luther’s own ideas for the “care of souls.” The book focuses on Lutheran understandings of creatureliness, the theology of the cross, the distinction between Law and Gospel, the two kinds of righteousness and the power of God’s Word in soul-care work. From there, it develops a variety of techniques that both pastors and professional counselors can use, all of which flow from Lutheran theology. “The book is really about finding the ‘sweet spot’ where Lutheran pastors can recognize and appreciate the theology and implement it in their ministry, and non-Lutheran Christian counselors can learn the theology as part of their ongoing practice,” Marrs says. “Most of Luther’s Small Catechism is in

Dr. Richard Marrs teaches a class. Photo: Jarod Fenske

ministry as well as Christian counseling. It was then that Marrs saw the question that had nagged him for so long come full circle. It was no longer an either/or. It could be a both/and. Returning to Concordia Seminary as a professor also meant renewing his involvement with some of the professional societies with which he had lost touch when he worked in the parish, chief among them the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). Much had changed in the meantime, but one thing had not. He still noticed that so much of the work Christian counselors were doing was centered in what he, as a Lutheran, recognized as “soft law,” for example, “follow these six steps and you’ll become less anxious.” Not enough was centered in the Gospel, what God in Christ has already done for the forgiveness of sins and freedom from

the book without highlighting that it’s the Small Catechism.” Proceeds from the royalties of Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered are being donated to Ambassadors of Reconciliation and DOXOLOGY, but only if the book is purchased directly from WestBow Press (westbowpress.com), the Ambassadors’ website (aorhope.org/books) or the Concordia Seminary Campus Store. The book also is available on Amazon. Even as this book is the culmination of decades of Marrs’ life, work and ministry, he hopes it will open the doors to new conversations about what it means to keep the vital work of counseling and soul-care centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for both pastors and Christian counselors alike. Dr. Travis Scholl is managing editor of Seminary Publications at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. CONCORDIA SEMINARY, ST. LOUIS

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New students pose for a photo after Opening Service Aug. 23. Photo: Harold Rau

181st academic year begins The Seminary began its 181st academic year Aug. 23 with Opening Service in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. During the Opening Service, Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer welcomed new and returning students. He preached and introduced the 2019–20 academic theme, “Grace. Mercy. Peace. Lives of Significance.” During the service, five professors were installed in new positions: Dr. Benjamin Haupt as associate provost; Dr. Glenn Nielsen as director of placement, a position he has held since 2017; Dr. David Peter as dean of faculty; Dr. Mark Rockenbach as director of the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Program; and Dr. William Schumacher as the Buehner-Duesenberg Professor of Missions. Also, 41 distance education students were recognized and received their assignments of vicarages and internships. The Seminary has a fall enrollment of 615 students, including 101 new students in residential and distance ministerial formation programs and 27 new Advanced Studies students. The new academic year festivities also included the third annual Opening Weekend Hymn Festival Aug. 25 in the chapel featuring guest artist Dr. Jeffrey Blersch of Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, and an ensemble choir. 20

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The Opening Weekend Hymn Festival Aug. 25 kicks off a year's worth of concerts on campus that are free and open to the public. Photo: Sid Hastings


NEWS WORTH NOTING

New Board of Regents members appointed, elected The Seminary has added four new members to its Board of Regents (BOR) during recent elections and appointments. Three additional members, who had been appointed earlier, also were elected. NEW MEMBERS Rev. Peter Lange, first vice president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in St. Louis, Mo., appointed by LCMS President Dr. Matthew C. Harrison to a three-year term Michael Staub, director of instrumental music and music education and assistant professor of music at Concordia University Texas, Austin, elected during the 67th Regular Convention of the LCMS, to a six-year term Dr. John Lang, retired director of pharmaceutical development for EnDev Laboratories in Kannapolis, N.C., appointed by Board of Regents members to fill a vacant seat, whose term ends in 2025 Dr. Tyler Arnold, senior pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Platte Woods, Mo., appointed by the LCMS Board of Directors to fill the remainder of the elected term of Dr. Harold Senkbeil, whose term ends in 2022

Dr. William Schumacher was installed as the Buehner-Duesenberg Professor of Missions Aug. 23 during Opening Service for the Seminary’s 181st academic year. Schumacher, a former missionary, is the Seminary’s mission professor of Historical Theology and director of the Institute for Mission Studies. Before joining the Seminary, he served as a Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod (LCMS) missionary in Botswana, Africa (1985–95), and as the LCMS’ theological coordinator for Africa (2010–12). Read more about Schumacher on the Seminary’s website, csl.edu.

RETURNING MEMBERS Mark Stern, attorney with Witt Law in Barrington, Ill., elected during the LCMS convention to a six-year term, previously appointed by the Board of Regents

Rev. Todd Peperkorn, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Rocklin, Calif., elected during the LCMS convention to a six-year term

Rev. Bruce Keseman, pastor of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Freeburg, Ill., elected during the LCMS convention to a six-year term In 2015, the Synod’s Board of Directors appointed Peperkorn to fill the remaining term of Rev. Ulmer Marshall and in 2018 they appointed Keseman to fill the remaining term of Rev. Shawn Kumm. According to the LCMS Bylaws, the Seminary’s Board of Regents may have up to 13 members, which includes three ordained members, one commissioned member and three lay members, all elected by the Synod in convention; one Synod vice president appointed by the LCMS president; one district president selected by the LCMS Council of Presidents; and up to four members who have been appointed by the board itself. The president of the LCMS Missouri District also serves as an advisory member.

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) approved a $100,000 grant for Concordia Seminary during its 38th Biennial Convention held June 20–23, 2019, in Mobile, Ala. The Seminary was selected as one of 21 recipients of the mission grants. The grant, “Making Jesus Known in United States Ethnic Communities,” will help fund the education costs of students enrolled in the Seminary’s Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS) and the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT). Photo: Kim Braddy

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Meyer to retire from service as Seminary president At an Oct. 3 meeting of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis’ Board of Regents, Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer announced his decision to retire, effective June 30, 2020. “My wife, Diane, and I both feel the time has come to retire. This has not been an easy decision. We love this Seminary, and we have been singularly challenged and blessed to serve the people of the church and our Lord through it,” said Meyer. “We fully believe that this is the Lord’s Seminary and He will guide it into a greater vision than I can presently imagine. It’s a great time to be at Concordia Seminary and it’s a great time to be the church of our Lord Jesus Christ – that’s truer today for us all than ever before!”

During Meyer’s tenure, the Seminary’s long-term debt has been eliminated and the Seminary’s endowment has quadrupled. He led the Seminary’s Generations: The Campaign for Concordia Seminary from 2012–18, which raised more than $200 million and provided for a transformation of the Seminary’s library into a state-of-the-art learning center. He was at the helm of the Seminary’s previous campaign, How Will They Hear?, from 2005–10, which raised $80 million. At present, Meyer is leading the Generations 20/20 Campaign, which has a $66 million goal — all for the sake of the church and the Gospel. As part of the Seminary’s 2018–20 Strategic Plan, Meyer is leading the effort to create a culture of recruitment across the campus and cultivating awareness of the entire church’s role in recruiting pastors and other church workers. The Board of Regents and the faculty have formed a committee to search for Meyer’s replacement. For questions about the search process, please contact Vicki Biggs, chief communications officer, at 314-505-7266 or biggsv@csl.edu.

PRESIDENT

SEARCH

Concordia Seminary’s Board of Regents, with the approval of Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), has issued a call for nominations for candidates for the presidency of the Seminary through Dec. 31. Dr. Dale A. Meyer. Photo: Jill Gray

Meyer was first named interim president by the Board of Regents in November 2004 before being elected president in May 2005. He was renewed by the Board of Regents in 2010 and 2015 for additional five-year terms and is only the 10th president since the Seminary’s founding in 1839. His dedication to theological academic excellence is evidenced in his leadership of a world-class faculty and positioning the Seminary to advance confessional Lutheranism through enhanced partnerships with Lutheran church bodies and seminaries around the world. 22

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The LCMS Handbook states that Seminary presidential nominations may be submitted only by LCMS congregations, the Seminary’s Board of Regents and the Seminary faculty. A list of nominees who meet the LCMS’ bylaw qualifications for the presidential office and who have consented to let their names stand for election will be published in an official LCMS periodical and posted on csl.edu by Jan. 15, 2020. Current information about the Seminary’s presidential search, as well as information about how congregations can submit nominations, is available at csl.edu/president-search.


NEWS WORTH NOTING

#GiveGreenandGold Day raises $26K for student aid The Seminary’s inaugural #GiveGreenandGold Day held Sept. 30, raised $25,998 for student aid. The Seminary set a goal of raising $20,000, which included a matching gift from a generous donor. All gifts up to the first $10,000 were matched dollar for dollar. “Thank you to everyone who made a gift during our first-ever #GiveGreenandGold Day — your gifts will benefit our students today as they prepare for their future ministry, and will make a difference for the sake of the Gospel for generations to come,” said Vicki Biggs, senior vice president of Seminary Advancement and chief communications officer. The second annual #GiveGreenandGold Day is set for Sept. 28, 2020. Deaconess students enjoy ice cream on #GiveGreenandGold Day. Photo: Bridgette Sharp

Laudamus

Laudamus, Concordia Seminary’s premier men’s choir, delights in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through music. Under the direction of Dr. James Marriott, the choir will tour the northeast this spring, then return home for a performance in St. Louis, Mo.

Spring 2020 Concert Tour Saturday, March 14, 7 p.m. First Lutheran Church, Boston, Mass. Sunday, March 15, 8 a.m. First Lutheran Church, Boston, Mass. Sunday, March 15, 2:30 p.m. Cadet Chapel, West Point, N.Y. Monday, March 16, 1:45 p.m. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, N.Y.

Tuesday, March 17, 7 p.m. Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Garden City, N.Y. Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 p.m. Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Bronx, N.Y. Sunday, March 22, 4 p.m. Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Mo. CONCORDIA SEMINARY, ST. LOUIS

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Professor Seying enters rest on campus and in all who graduate from our Seminary. In confidence of the resurrection and heavenly reunion, we extend our Christian sympathies to his wife, Maykou, and their children; Grace, Sarah, Seth and Malachi.” Seying was the first ordained Hmong pastor in the LCMS. Over the course of his ministry, he served as a parish pastor, missionary-at-large, mission developer and professor. He joined the Seminary faculty in 2015. Born in Laos, Seying and his family members were among the very first Christian converts in the country. Seeking refuge during the Vietnam War, his family left Laos when Seying was 12 years old. They resettled in Indianapolis through the co-sponsorship of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and St. Peter Lutheran Church. Professor Kou and Maykou Seying. Photo: Jill Gray

Rev. Laokouxang (Kou) Seying, the Lutheran Foundation Professor of Urban and Cross-Cultural Ministry, associate dean for Urban and Cross-Cultural Ministry, and associate professor of Practical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, entered eternal rest in Christ Jesus Nov. 23, 2019. He was 55 years old. A funeral was held Dec. 7 in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus on campus. “I am deeply saddened by the passing of our brother and colleague, Professor Kou Seying,” said Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer. “Through his intense battle with cancer, he witnessed to us his confident trust in our Lord Jesus and thereby why he was so passionate about Jesus’ mission to all peoples. Of his many legacies, that passion to share Jesus will long live

Seying attended Lutheran schools, earning a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon (1987), and a Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), Ind. (1991). He also studied systematic theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. (1995–98). Seying was in the process of pursuing his Ph.D. in missiology at CTSFW. He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Maykou (nee Kue); and four children, Grace, Sarah, Seth and Malachi. On behalf of the family, Concordia Seminary will collect contributions toward education expenses for the Seyings’ children. Please make checks payable to “Concordia Seminary” with “Seying Memorial” noted on the memo line and mail them to the Seminary at 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, MO 63105. (Please note that such gifts are not tax deductible.)

Reunion helps connect classmates, renew friendships

The 2019 Alumni Reunion on campus Oct. 24–25 welcomed about 90 graduates, spouses and widows with class years ending in “4” and “9.” Reunion highlights included a special recognition of the jubilarian class and all alumni in chapel; a banquet featuring The Gospel of Mark presentation by Lutheran Hour Speaker Dr. Michael Zeigler; a presentation by Dr. Thomas Zelt, pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Fremont, Calif., about the Seminary’s student learning experience in the Holy Land; and free time for fellowship and class gatherings.

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NEWS WORTH NOTING

Professor Emeritus Nagel enters rest Dr. Norman E. Nagel, professor emeritus at Concordia Seminary and an esteemed Lutheran theologian and beloved pastor, entered eternal rest in Christ Jesus Oct. 8, 2019. He was 94 years old. A funeral was held Oct. 15 in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus at Concordia Seminary, followed by a luncheon in Koburg Hall. Nagel served as a visiting professor at the Seminary from 1962 to 1963 and again from 1981 to 1983, when he joined the faculty. He retired in 2006 after 22 years of distinguished service as professor of Systematic Theology. Born in China, the son of a New Zealand Lutheran missionary pastor and an Australian mother, he grew up in Australia, attended Concordia College in Adelaide, Australia, and received a

bachelor’s degree from the University of Adelaide in 1945. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in 1953 and his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1957. He also was awarded three honorary degrees. His published works include Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis (Concordia Publishing House, 2004); his translation from the German of Werner Elert’s book, On Church Fellowship; and many articles. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Priscilla “Betsy” Nagel (nee Newman); three children, Richard (Norma) Nagel, Christopher (Mollie) Nagel and Matthew (Kristi) Nagel; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Dr. Norman E. Nagel

Feb. 18, 2020 After Chapel Concert with Erica Mertz, saxophone

March 1, 2020 Valparaiso University Chorale Concert

March 10, 2020

After Chapel Concert with Laudamus, Concordia Seminary’s premier touring choir

April 14, 2020 After Chapel Concert with Ryan Edinger, piano/organ

April 26, 2020 After Chapel Concert with Dr. Laura Ellis, organ/carillon

June 2020 Summer Carillon Concerts every Tuesday

CONCORDIA SEMINARY, ST. LOUIS

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NEWS WORTH NOTING

THEOLOGICAL SYMPOSIUM HIGHLIGHTS The 2019 Theological Symposium, held Sept. 17–18 on the Seminary campus, drew about 400 attendees. This year’s theme was “Devoted: (Re)forming the Devotional Life.” Thought-provoking plenaries, breakout sessions and reflection time sparked dialogue around the question of what it means to live wholehearted, Christ-centered lives. Plenary speakers included Dr. David Schmitt, the Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Professor of Homiletics and Literature; Dr. Charles Arand, the Eugene E. and Nell S. Fincke Graduate Professor of Theology; Dr. Timothy Saleska, professor of Exegetical Theology and dean of Ministerial Formation; and Dr. Bruce Hartung, professor emeritus. Thirty-four registrants came early to the symposium to enjoy a golf outing Sept. 16 sponsored by the LCMS Foundation. The symposium also included the Fifth Annual Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Lecture in New Testament Theology, “‘For Want of a Nail ...’: The Importance of Details both Small and Great for Biblical Interpretation,” led by Dr. James W. Voelz Sept. 17. Dr. David Schmitt delivers the Theological Symposium’s first plenary, “Discerning Devotion: Devotion and Discipleship in a Discontented Age.” Photo: Harold Rau

FALL LAY BIBLE INSTITUTE Led by Associate Professor of Practical Theology Dr. Abjar Bahkou, the Oct. 5 Fall Lay Bible Institute “Jesus in Islam” helped participants become better equipped to share Christ with their Muslim neighbors. Participants looked at the stories the Koran uses that are the same in the Gospel’s story; examined why the Koran denies the Crucifixion and considers the Trinity blasphemy; and explored ways to share the divinity of Christ and the mystery of the Holy Trinity with Muslims. Photo: Bridgette Sharp

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Meet Dr. William “Bill” Knippa BY VICKI BIGGS

Spend a few minutes with Dr. William “Bill” Knippa and you realize this man deeply loves his Savior and cares passionately for others. The senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Austin has served the congregation for nearly 43 years. He grows contemplative when reflecting on his ministry ahead of his service anniversary in January 2020. “It’s been a real blessing,” he says, “and I’m deeply thankful for the experience of walking with people through generations.” He has been a part of many wonderful ministerial experiences including when the congregation relocated to its present site 20 years ago. “Our original facility couldn’t handle the number of people God was bringing to us,” Knippa says. “But our people stepped out in faith to pursue a new location.” While only moving 4 ½ miles away, the transition was huge. “People were connected to a given location, anchored by deep memories,” he says. “In moving ahead, it was important to realize that nothing had changed except the outside. The hearts of faith, the love of Jesus and the commitment that is the DNA of Bethany to reach out to neighbors and serve in the community remained.” The new church building has provided an opportunity for good growth, but Knippa says challenges remain. Bethany, like other congregations across the United States, is figuring out how to adjust to shifts in culture, the marginalization of the body of Christ and the church, and changing patterns of worship. “We are in a constant state of assessment of what we’re doing to open the doors of Bethany and provide opportunities for people to hear the Gospel,” Knippa says. Among the blessings for which Knippa is thankful is that at least seven former sons of the congregation are now serving as pastors in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Counted among those is his son, Michael, who is the 28

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campus pastor at Lutheran South High School in St. Louis who is working on his Ph.D. at Concordia Seminary. Knippa credits his parents and his first pastor for their witness and the encouragement they offered to him to enter the ministry. His stay-at-home mother was a busy volunteer at church and school. His father worked in sales. Their example was the genesis of his philosophy today — embraced by his congregation — that “we love our children and we love other people’s children. Don’t just think of what does my child need, but what do others need, too,” he says. The family attended Concordia Lutheran Church in San Antonio, which Knippa acknowledges was quite formative. “My pastor, Rev. Guido Merkens, was a dynamic, evangelistic pastor,” Knippa says. “He was very encouraging – he would say ‘before you say yes to something else, say no to the ministry.’”


ALUMNI AND FRIENDS

Members of the Seminary’s Alumni Council and some Seminary faculty and staff gather for a group photo during their meeting this fall. Photo: Sarah Maney

That seed was planted around the time Knippa was confirmed in sixth grade. He attended Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, and then enrolled at Trinity University in San Antonio as a premed student. Six weeks into his college career, he felt the call to ministry pulling at him deeply. He dropped out of the university on a Monday morning and entered the pre-seminary program at Concordia College-Austin (now Concordia University Texas) the next day. After completing that program, Knippa graduated from Concordia Senior College in 1969. His studies took him then to Westfield House at the University of Cambridge in England for a year, to learn from Dr. Martin Franzmann and to savor Franzmann’s expertise in New Testament exegesis. It was considerably different from his experience growing up in a large, suburban congregation. “There was more of a sense of the church being a witness in a less inviting culture,” he says, “and it reinforced for me, as a pastor later, the importance of building community and being light and salt.” Knippa went on to earn his Master of Divinity at Concordia Seminary, graduating in 1973. He recalls the sense of community on campus with fondness. “One of the great delights was connecting with fellow students,” Knippa says. “We did life together and grew together.” His studies also were marked by a fascination with how the mind works and how relationships are built. This interest led Knippa to pursue advanced study in psychology — he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a doctorate in 1979. While completing his terminal studies, Knippa served as part-time assistant pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in

Austin for one year, and then as dean of men at Concordia College. He also served a one-year internship in the psychiatric wing of the University of Texas Student Health Center. “This work, which was quite a full load, helped me gain a deeper understanding of the human condition,” Knippa says, “and prepared me well for future ministry.” Today, in addition to pastoral ministry, Knippa also is chairman of the Seminary’s Alumni Council, which serves as a link between the institution and its alumni. “It’s a real privilege to be connected to the ministry of Seminary through this role and to have a role in its continued growth,” Knippa says. “I’m proud to share with brother pastors about the good and substantive work that the Seminary does.” Ask Knippa about his plans for the future and his reply is long — he looks forward to continuing to serve at Bethany until he senses it is time to step back. He wants to continue to love and serve people, and to continue to look to the Lord to see what He would have him do within the church. “Life is a series of adjustments to transitions,” Knippa says. “We must be adaptable to change and to moving on. The Lord speaks into our anxious spirits His peace and blessing. Part of what pastors do is walk with people through transitions and I know there will always be another one.” He also looks forward to reading good books, traveling with his wife, Melissa, and spending time with their three children and six grandchildren. No matter what the future holds, Knippa is confident of this: God’s grace and love are going to endure forever. “I want everyone to know this and be a part of it,” he says, “because this matters for eternity.” Vicki Biggs is senior vice president of Seminary Advancement and chief communications officer at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

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Supporting the Sem SHARING HOPE WITH THE WORLD The Bersons, who live in Scottsdale, Ariz., believe that giving one’s time and talent is just as important as financial giving. “It is the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, that motivates our giving. We simply want to share that hope to the ends of the earth,” stated Sue Berson in a recent phone conversation with Concordia Seminary magazine. Jim Berson, her husband, couldn’t agree more. “God has blessed us over and over, and we are compelled to give,” he added. “We are challenged to give, and are reminded that you simply can’t out-give God!” These days, the Bersons spend most of their time serving at their church and school, Christ Church-Lutheran (CC-L), and Christ Lutheran School, in Phoenix. Both Jim and Sue are substitute teachers at the school. Jim also enjoys playing guitar for chapel as well as accompanying the students when they visit local nursing homes. Sue is involved with music there as well and accompanies two choirs at the school. They both sing in the small group, Chorale, for church services and Sue serves as a Stephen Minister at CC-L. The hope that they have in Christ is at the center of their activities and their lives.

Jim and Sue Berson, pictured here in San Francisco, Calif., in May 2019, trust that God’s generosity is what empowers their own. Photo: Courtesy the Bersons

Concordia Seminary Guild The Concordia Seminary Guild supports a variety of services and programs that enchance our students’ preparation on their journey to becoming Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastors, deaconesses or other church workers, or as they earn advanced degrees. Here are some of the Guild's current fundraising projects:

FAMILIES IN TRANSITION

STUDENT EDUCATIONAL HELPS

$1,000

$500

CAMPUS LANDSCAPING

MUSICAL ARTS

STUDENT ATHLETICS/ FITNESS CENTER

$2,000

$2,000

$2,000 How do I join and/or support the Sem Guild?

To learn more or to see the complete project list, visit csl.edu/semguild.

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SUPPORT YOUR SEM

That was also true when their son, Eric Johnson, was diagnosed with stage four melanoma in September 2011. Throughout his cancer journey there was always hope. Many of their friends and family members prayed for a miracle, an earthly healing. But it was not to be. “The hope of eternal life with Jesus was the firm foundation on which we stood,” Sue remembered. “We knew that Eric claimed Jesus as his Lord and Savior, so that was the comfort and that was the hope!” Eric claimed his victory in Christ Jan. 7, 2014. After Eric died, the couple chose to support the Seminary in a new way and also to honor their beloved son. They established the Eric C. Johnson Operational Endowment Sept. 13, 2014, three years after their son received his cancer diagnosis. In speaking with their longtime friend, Mike Flynn, the Seminary’s director of principal gifts who went to college with Sue in Saint Paul, Minn., they learned how helpful an endowment would be to support Seminary operations. “Eric would have been all over it, with a focus of making things better,” Jim said. “He also saw the value of maintaining and improving what was already in place.”

“He could fix anything,” Sue added. “He was a hands-on kind of guy and had a drive for excellence!" Jim and Sue know that sustaining the Seminary’s facilities is essential. In supporting day-to-day needs — like having warm rooms in the winter and working plumbing — the endowment helps the Seminary community keep the real reason for its existence in the forefront: the proclamation of the Gospel around the globe. “It’s like a pebble,” Sue said. “It is the rings, the circles, that go out and out and out. “The Seminary is not just about training workers for the field,” Sue added. “It’s about the spreading of the Gospel well beyond St. Louis.” Jim and Sue are both studying the book of Acts and they claim this verse as the real reason they give: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 ESV). This is their motivation to give and this is their passion to live: that many more would claim, as did Eric, Christ’s victory!

LOOKING FOR WAYS TO SAVE ON TAXES AND END THE YEAR WELL? Here is a checklist of some tax-wise, year-end charitable gifts that can provide you with tax savings and possible income benefits:

 Make a gift of appreciated assets  Fund a charitable gift annuity  Establish a charitable remainder trust  Make a gift of life insurance  Create a charitable life estate Learn more about how you can support the mission of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and benefit from these gifts by contacting us at 800-822-5287 or plannedgiving@csl.edu. CONCORDIA SEMINARY, ST. LOUIS

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LIVES OF SIGNIFICANCE BECOME A STUDENT. REFER A STUDENT.

Who is our next church worker? Is it you or someone you know? Please encourage those you know with the skills and abilities to serve in ministry to consider enrolling and starting their journey at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Learn more about our programs at csl.edu/programs.

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