Call Service Livestream 2016

The seminary’s annual Call Service takes place on Saturday, 28 May 2016, 4:00pm, at Grace Lutheran Church, St. Catharines. We plan to broadcast the service live by webcam. If you would like to watch, follow the link below.

https://livestream.com/accounts/771825/CallService2016

A recording will be available after the event until 26 June.

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Seminary Community welcomed the Summer with a BBQ

CLTS End of Year BBQ 2016

The Niagara Spring pampered the seminary community with warm weather and the blooming nature’s lush greenness.

CLTS End of Year BBQ 2016

Spirits ran high on the 20th of May when the students, staff and faculty of CLTS with their families gathered to celebrate the end of the school year with a barbecue on the seminary grounds. The warm Friday afternoon get together consisted of grilled burgers and sausage, potluck salads and desserts, laughs, stories, catching up, games, and children running on the grass with floral crowns made of dandelions (always so readily available).

 

The day also marked the end of the Spring short term course on C. S. Lewis under the title “True Fantasies and Fantastic Truths”. While some students still work on finishing their papers, with classwork and lectures finished the seminary now enters the period of recovery, planning and administration in order to be prepared for the beginning of the new academic year in the Autumn.

 

CLTS End of Year BBQ 2016

Viking Chess (or ‘Kubb’) spurred fierce competition in the noble art of throwing sticks to knock down the opponent’s game pieces.

Striving to be a community that not only works, studies and prays together, but also rejoices in the good gifts of creation with each other, the seminary has much to be thankful at the close of this season. The Lord has been good to us!

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Call Process Update

Rev. Paul Elliott of Cincinnati, Ohio, has announced that he has decided to decline the call to be Professor of Theology (Old Testament) at this seminary. We pray the Lord’s continued blessing on his ministry, teaching, and studies.

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Annual Seminary Golf Tournament

Golf Tournament Winners 2015

Concordia Seminary’s annual golf tournament is scheduled for Monday, 6 June 2016, at Sawmill Golf Course in Fenwick, beginning at 11:30am (shotgun start at 1pm).  The $100 per person registration fee includes BBQ lunch (sausage, hamburger, or hotdog, and a non-alcoholic beverage), green fees, golf cart, chicken/rib combo dinner, dessert, and prizes. Look for a registration form in your church bulletin (or dowload 2016 Golf Registration Form). We are also collecting prizes. If you would like to make a donation to the prize table, please send it to the East District Office at 275 Lawrence Ave, Kitchener, or to the seminary at 470 Glenridge Ave, St. Catharines. Prizes need to be in by 3 June. If you would like your prize donation picked up, please contact Linda Lantz at (905) 688-2362, ext. 22  (concordia@brocku.ca). Linda is also looking for committee members to help with the tournament.

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Call Extended for Professor of Old Testament

Pastoral staffCLTS has extended a solemn call to Rev. Paul M. C. Elliott to serve as Professor of Theology with a specialisation in Old Testament. Rev. Elliott was interviewed on 2 April 2016 by the seminary president, the Board of Regents, and the electors of Lutheran Church–Canada.

Rev. Elliott is a graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He is currently serving as Assistant Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church, Aurora, Indiana. He is a doctoral candidate at Hebrew Union College and an Adjunct Faculty Member at Xavier University. He is married to Krista, a Lutheran school teacher, and has two young daughters.

We hope to be able to announce his answer to the call within a few weeks.

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Call Process Update

Rev. Geoffrey Boyle of Wichita, Kansas, has announced that he has decided to decline the call to be Professor of Theology (Old Testament) at this seminary. We pray the Lord’s continued blessing on his minstry at Grace and Trinity Lutheran Churches.

Further news on the call process will follow shortly.

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Arnold Kromphardt, Former Eastern District President, Dies

Kromphardt (LCMS file photo)

LCMS File Photo

The Rev. Dr Arnold E. Kromphardt, former president of the LCMS Eastern District, died 23 April 2016 in New Port Richey, Florida. He was 86.

Dr Kromphardt served 13 years as Eastern District President, from 1978 to 1991. These were the formative years of our seminary, in which Dr Kromphardt took a leading role. He was a strong advocate and continued to encourage men to study at St. Catharines after he retired to Florida.

Dr John Stephenson, Professor of Historical Theological, recalls fondly that President Kromphardt installed him into his first parish, The Lutheran Church of the Escarpment, Lewiston, New York, in February 1986.

The seminary’s Kromphardt Fund provides financial aid to American students who wish to study here.

For further information, see the following story on the LCMS online Reporter: https://blogs.lcms.org/2016/arnold-kromphardt-dies

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Sermon for St Mark, Evangelist

St Mark, EvangelistThe following sermon was preached by Dr Thomas Winger in the seminary’s Martin Luther Chapel for a divine service on the occasion of the Festival of St Mark, Evangelist, Monday, 25 April 2016. The text was Mark 16:9-20.

It is deeply ironic that the Feast of St Mark falls without exception within the season of Easter—ironic because St Mark, by any human measure, does the poorest job of proclaiming the resurrection story of Jesus Christ. The manuscript names and dates are a matter for the classroom not the pulpit, but every Christian should be aware that the most likely original ending of Mark’s Gospel, cutting off the story prior to today’s Gospel reading, is famously unsatisfactory: “And [the women] fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had taken hold of them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mk 16:8). Mark records no appearance of the risen Christ to them, only that of a messenger-angel. They are reduced to trusting the angel’s word that Christ had arisen, and that word is just not enough to overcome the very understandable fear brought on by a crucified Saviour and a missing body. To make matters worse for anyone hoping to understand Mark’s final word on the resurrected Jesus, in Greek it’s just the conjunction γάρ “they were afraid for …”. It’s not even good grammar.

Now, there are lots of explanations floating around for why Mark would end his story this way. Some think he intended to write more, but that his work was cut short by sudden death or martyrdom. Some think verse 8 is precisely the way he wanted to end His Gospel, not in glory but in deepest sympathy with the fear felt by an early community of persecuted Roman Christians. But what intrigues my mind and fascinates my faith is the deutero-canonical longer ending that probably represents the earliest Christian response to the women’s famous fear. Yes, today is probably the only day in the church year when we read as Scripture and preach from the pulpit a text that most likely does not belong to the original text of Scripture. (One might call us “liberals” for doing so except for the fact that it’s the historic Christian church that read this text as Scripture for some 1500 years.) And why the church received and read it as Scripture, despite early evidence that it was not authenticate, is part of our fascination with these words.

Let’s get to the point. If the longer ending of Mark was not written by Mark himself, then it surely is the very earliest commentary on Mark’s resurrection story that exists. Think carefully about that. If the women were afraid that first Easter morn, how much more did the next generation of Christians have the right to be afraid, who were so often threatened with persecution, even to the point of death? And yet they couldn’t abide a Gospel that would end with fear. Someone somewhere drew together the words of Matthew and Luke and John and Acts and confessed clearly Christ’s resurrection and His mandate to proclaim it to the whole world. Those words were written by and for Christians like us. Certainly, our kind of fear is caused neither by the absence of Jesus’ body from the tomb, nor by the thought that Jewish or Roman authorities might persecute us for believing in Him. Yet our fears are no less real. Our fears are a response to a profoundly hostile world, where not Romans but atheists and humanists want to stamp out the followers of Jesus and silence their voice. It’s a world where Islamic aggression is starting to make Roman rule look quite benign. Though we haven’t been dismayed by finding an empty tomb, our fears are likewise rooted in the apparent absence of Christ, the absence of His soothing voice and serene presence, the absence of His ability to calm storms and speak peace and heal the sick and defend us from the hostile world. Our fears arise from financial worries rooted in debt and unemployment and job insecurity. Even the church, which once seemed to offer a guaranteed livelihood, an escape from the uncertainties of the uncaring secular world, now seems shaky. She is declining in membership, financially weakened, internally divided. No present or future pastor can long remain blissfully ignorant of a troubled life. We would be fools to expect the peaceful life of a country priest from a 19th-century romantic novel, if such a life ever existed.

So if Mark’s short ending is precisely where he wanted to end his Gospel, leaving us joined to the fear of the first Christians, then the longer ending speaks directly and forcefully in response to this fear. The Lord appears to the disciples on Easter Eve with words of, well, Law and Gospel. He first “upbraids” their unbelief, as it’s traditionally translated. He chastises, reproaches, finds fault with them. And so also with us. Why, oh, why, can we not simply trust His Word? For fear is unbelief. It arises from our sinful nature, which deceives and misleads us “into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice” (SC 3, 5th petition), as Luther puts it. But if that’s the true origin of fear, then the true solution lies in the forgiveness of sins and renewal of life that the Gospel of Christ’s resurrection brings. And so the resurrected Christ directs them back to this Gospel. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (v. 16). How impoverished the Christian Church would be without that great confession! That’s the message we’re given to carry to the ends of the earth. To preach the resurrected Christ is to proclaim the Gospel of Holy Baptism, that sacramental gift through which we’re joined to Christ’s death and raised to life with Him. For the message isn’t just for our ears to hear and our minds to understand. Holy Baptism makes Easter our very own Easter; it takes us up entirely in body and soul and leads us through the tomb and into life with Christ. It is, to be sure, a hidden reality. That’s why we must believe and be baptised. Never one without the other. But faith, nonetheless, needs something concrete to cling to. And here it is: the resurrected Lord, testified to by the ancient witnesses, confessed by the earliest martyrs, passed down to us through Holy Scripture, and made ours through sacramental rebirth. Against such things fear cannot stand. Amen

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Guild Day 2016

CLTS Guild Day, 16 April 2016The Seminary Guild is a precious treasure. This group of faithful women and men raises hundreds of membership fees each year in order to fund projects to support the students and mission of CLTS. Just as importantly, the members gather together twice a year for business, worship, entertainment, edification, and a good meal! As President Winger noted in his welcome, the gathering together of Christians beyond their local congregation is a vital part of what it means to be the church in this world.

On Saturday, 16 April 2016, 75 registered guests joined the seminary faculty, staff, and students for the annual spring Guild Day. After an opening hymn sing and Matins service, the business of the guild was quickly and lovingly conducted under the leadership of long-time guild president Judy Zastrow. The guild members re-elected Bonnie Stephenson as treasurer, Nancy Bryans as secretary, and elected Karen Kaija as membership secretary to replace the outgoing Liz Mellecke, to whom much thanks is due. Mary Silver continues as vice-president and Sara Winger as newsletter editor.

Many guild projects are ongoing, such as the donation of individual Communion sets to seminary graduates. The guild funded carpet and upholstery cleaning, and purchased a new set of cups for seminary hospitality. They also approved funding the cleaning of chapel vestments and purchase of a few new cassocks and surplices for the students to use when leading chapel. Major new projects will be proposed next year.

Rev. Murto displays a useful old phrase book for immigrant Finns!

Rev. Murto displays a useful old phrase book for immigrant Finns!

The day’s education and entertainment was provided by visiting professor Rev. Esko Murto. Under the title, “Sauna, Sibelius, and Salvation”, Prof. Murto introduced the group to Finnish culture. More importantly, he described the modest beginnings and explosive growth of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, a group that now numbers 30 congregations, 46 pastors (24 salaried), and about 2000 members. While 90% of Finns are members of the Lutheran state church, it has wandered far from the truth of Holy Scripture.

The Mission Diocese not only proclaims the pure Word of God in accord with the Lutheran Confession but–as its name declares–wants to bring this message to people hungering and thirsting for God. Rev. Murto described, on the one hand, the great tragedy of a state church that denies ordination to any candidate who wishes to hold to the traditional teaching of the church on issues like Communion fellowship, women’s ordination, and marriage. On the other hand, the media frenzy that ensued when one of their pastors asked a state church bishop not to commune at their altar brought the fledgling group nationwide attention and, ironically, contributed positively to its growth. What they meant for evil, the Lord turned to good.

At the close of the morning, the students introduced themselves and their families, and were able to eat lunch with visitors from their adoptive congregations.

Students and families introduce themselves

Students and families introduces themselves

More pictures of the day are available here.

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Seminary life enriched by visiting friends

During the spring months Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary has enjoyed visits by friends and supporters of the seminary community.

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New students were given “tools for the trade” by the Lutheran Laymen’s League

On March 29th, Stephen Klinck from the Lutheran Laymen’s League of Canada gave a presentation about the work of Lutheran Hour Ministries, where missionary mindset and media skills come together with solidly confessional Lutheran message.

On behalf of the LLL, Mr Klinck also presented new students with copies of the Greek New Testament (or a gift card for those who already had one). The gift is certainly appreciated, and a public ‘thank you’ for the Laymen’s League is hereby extended!

We at CLTS are also happy to tell that in recognition of the service given to the whole Church, the Delta Chi Medal will be awarded to Mr Klinck as part of the Call Service on May 28th.

Rev. Aaron Astley Convocation

Rev. Astley candidly shared the joys and challenges he faces as a young pastor serving in his first call.

On the 12th of April another fruitful convocation took place when Pastor Aaron Astley, a recent graduate from our sister seminary in Edmonton, shared his thoughts and experiences under the title, “How to survive your first call?” Rev. Astley led his hearers through his first months as a pastor, describing both ups and downs, joys and struggles in the ministry as he continues to serve nearby congregations in Grimsby and Hamilton. Stressing the importance of not only being the preacher of the Word, but also living from it and being strengthened and encouraged by it, Rev. Astley encouraged the students of  CLTS to develop and maintain a routine of devotional life already during their time in the seminary.

19th of April saw the students, faculty and staff sharing lunch with the numerous volunteers that help with the many practical tasks included in the life of the seminary. A volunteer luncheon was served to give opportunity for these friends of the seminary to meet with the students, and for the seminary community to express their gratitude for their selfless service.

CLTS Volunteer Lunch 2016

Food was tasty and spirits were high when the volunteers shared lunch with the faculty, staff and students of CLTS.

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