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:

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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.


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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Call Extended for Professor of Old Testament

Pastoral staffFollowing interviews on Saturday, 2 April 2016, with the seminary president, the Board of Regents, and the electors of Lutheran Church–Canada, the Board of Regents extended a solemn call to Rev. Geoffrey Boyle to serve as Professor of Theology with a specialisation in Old Testament.

A native of Michigan, Rev. Boyle is currently senior pastor at Grace and Trinity Lutheran Churches in Wichita, Kansas. He is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies–Old Testament at the University of Toronto. He is married to Nicole and has five children.

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

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Sermon for Annunciation of our Lord

The following sermon was preached by Rev. Esko Murto in the seminary’s Martin Luther Chapel for the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord (observed 4th of April 2016). 

Luke 1:26-38

annunciation-illustration-for-the-life-of-christToday I greet you with the same greeting Mary received from the angel: “Greetings, O favoured ones, the Lord is with you.” [Amen.]

On this feast day of Annunciation we will examine specifically the words of promise Gabriel gave to the confused Virgin Mary who could not understand the things this messenger of the Lord described, nor could see how they could ever take place. Gabriel explained: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God.”

In the Blessed Virgin we have a symbolical representation of not only the New Eve who remained loyal to the word of God instead of rebelling against it like her foremother had done, but also a figure of the Temple of God.  The words of how the power of the Most High will overshadow Mary and cause holiness to grow in her womb bring to mind the events centuries before: the consecration of the first temple of Jerusalem, when the glory of God in the form of a cloud covered the temple and sanctified it as the place where his name would reside.

As the mother of God, Mary is now called to serve the Lord as a human temple, giving her body to the Son of God as his first dwelling place during his earthly ministry. In the first temple the ‘memory of God’s name’, that is, his Word, appeared in the darkness of the inner chamber, Holy of Holies. Similarly now, in the darkness of Mary’s womb, the Glory of God appears when this Word and Name of God is made into human form in our Lord Jesus. This is why the Church loves and honours Mary and calls her blessed; not based on her own person, but on her calling and task as the first khristoforos, ‘Christ-bearer’.

Yet as St. Augustine wisely pointed out, the greater miracle still was not that Mary carried Christ in her womb, but that she carried him in her heart as well. And therefore all those who after Mary have come to believe the word of God and to lay hold of Christ Jesus through faith, they too are worthy to receive the greeting of the angel Gabriel: Greetings, O favoured ones!

Maybe somewhat uncommonly, this year we are celebrating the annunciation after Easter. And therefore this year it is especially fitting to turn to the last chapter of Luke, where the evangelist ends his gospel with very similar words we are meditating upon today; so similar in fact, that they cannot be considered just coincidental. After his resurrection, our Lord said to his disciples: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Gospel of Luke begins by telling how Christ was born into this world, and it closes by telling how this world will be brought to faith in Christ. It begins with the promise of the power of the most high coming over Mary, and it ends with the promise of power from on high coming to clothe the disciples. What we see taking place with Mary in the Gospel lesson of Annunciation, is mutatis mutandi also speaking about the whole Church of Christ. We too are clothed with the power of the most high, and Christ lives among us. Just as Mary was given the noble task of bearing the son of God, so too, his church now carries Christ among her, bringing his gospel and his saving presence to all nations through the preaching of the gospel.

So the Church of Christ, on the basis of the continual presence of her Lord, is truly the temple of the New Testament, having the glory of God manifested among us through his word and his holy sacraments. It is indeed a wondrous relationship, where the Church carries Christ, but is still carried by Christ, where we are his servants, and yet he gives himself to us continually, where we enjoy the presence of Christ in our hearts, and yet are at the same time kept securely in his heart through the Holy Spirit that clothes us in his love and holy righteousness. In this joyful union we rest and we work, we hear and we proclaim. Thus we, being greeted like Mary was, also end by saying like Mary said: Lord, let it be to me according to your word. Amen.

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Lenten Appeal

James Tissot, The Return of the Prodigal Son

President Thomas Winger reflects on the parables of the lost (Luke 15) in  our Lenten Appeal Letter. He writes:

The point is that Jesus came not to stay away from sinners but to find and bring them home. And when He returns them to God’s house, the whole church rejoices with Him. We are calling on you to join us in this joy by supporting your seminary in St. Catharines. Jesus carries on His seeking and finding ministry through the under-shepherds we call pastors. Your seminary is the place where these men develop the heart of Jesus and learn to speak His voice to call the lost back to God.

The letter also highlights Milton Lam, a senior student on vicarage in Winkler and Morden, Manitoba.

Please support this mission of seeking and finding by making an offering to your seminary. Include it in your Lenten discipline. You may Donate online, and/or sign up for a monthly pre-authorised contribution (Support Us).

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Call Service 2016

CLTS Call Service 2014The seminary’s annual Call Service will take place at Grace Lutheran Church, 213 Linwell Rd, St. Catharines, on Saturday, 28 May 2016, 4.00pm. We heartily invite members of LCC, and especially friends and family of the students to attend this festive event.

One or two graduating pastoral students will receive their first calls, pending completion of requirements. One vicar will also receive his placement. Rev. Alan Bauch, a CLTS alumnus and pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Lockport, NY, will be guest preacher for the occasion.

The service will also honour Mr Stephen Klinck, managing director of Lutheran Hour Ministries–Canada. The faculty and Board of Regents have chosen him to receive the Delta Chi (Servant of Christ) award, the seminary’s highest honour.

The seminary will also recognise Dr David Goicoechea with the Friend of the Seminary award. Dr Goicoechea, a retired professor of philosophy at Brock University, has tirelessly supported Concordia on the campus where it resides.

Stay tuned for further news on a live broadcast of the service over the internet.

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LCC Restructuring Information Meeting

LCC Restructuring ProcessOn Monday, 4 April, 7:00pm, at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, Revs Les Stahlke and Bill Ney will present a summary of results from the recent synod-wide survey on restructuring. They have received more than 600 pages of comments, which they will try to digest for you. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about this important process, to ask questions, and to add further input. Pastors and laypeople alike are encouraged to come.

Because parking is limited, please RSVP to Linda Lantz by e-mail ( or phone  (905-688-2362, x 22) if you intend to come.

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