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Seminary Opening Service Celebrated Special Anniversary

The worship service marking the beginning of the 162nd academic year of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, was held on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2000 at 4:00 p.m. at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, St. Louis. This opening service is normally held on the Seminary’s campus, but took place at Holy Cross this year in order to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Seminary’s move from Perry County, Mo. to St. Louis. The Seminary existed on property adjacent to Holy Cross until 1926, when increased enrollment necessitated the move to its current campus in Clayton, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis.

“Concordia Seminary shares a rich history with Holy Cross Lutheran Church,” commented Rev. Glen Thomas, vice president for seminary relations at Concordia Seminary. “Holy Cross maintains the only remaining Seminary building from the 1850-1926 campus. The opportunity to worship in the same place our forefathers worshiped 150 years ago and to hear the Gospel proclaimed from the same pulpit used by Dr. C.F.W. Walther, the first president of Concordia Seminary, was a very meaningful way to begin the new academic year.”

Dr. John F. Johnson, president of Concordia Seminary, served as preacher for the service. With Esther 4:14 as his text, Johnson proclaimed, “‘Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ If you think those words spoken to us are not as urgent as when they were spoken to Esther, think again. When a small group of students began their studies on this very property 150 years ago, theirs was a newly organized church body determined to become a bulwark of confessionalism in an alien culture and what they learned of doctrine and scripture and history in what remains of those original buildings prepared them for an enduring witness.”

Johnson also addressed the 136 new students enrolled at Concordia Seminary this fall, the Seminary’s largest incoming class since 1996, “We gather now at a time when over two-thirds of the world’s five billion people live outside of the Christian faith. We gather now at a time when according to a recent research survey, 67% of Lutheran Christians agree with the statement, ‘Although there are many religions in the world, they all lead to the same God.’ Could it be that genuine renewal in the Church’s mission and life will occur when its distinct identity in the world is recaptured through a sympathetic understanding of the history of our faith, through a renewed ability to study the Bible with discernment, preach and teach with passion, counsel with compassion, and evangelize with conviction? In other words, could it be that renewal in the church in part begins with mastering all of those things taught in seminary? While the renewal of the church does not fall on your shoulders alone, ‘who knows whether you were not called into the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Your life has purpose and your being on our campus makes a difference.”

Those in attendance were also reminded that Concordia Seminary will be celebrating another significant milestone in its history during the coming year. The 75th anniversary of the Seminary’s current campus, dedicated on June 13, 1926, will be celebrated throughout the 2000-2001 academic year. It was announced that the anniversary of the campus dedication day will be commemorated on Wednesday, June 13, 2001, with special morning and evening worship services, and that a special celebration in conjunction with the 2001 Convention of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod will take place on Sunday, July 15, 2001.

For more information, contact Communications Department, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Ave., St. Louis, Mo. 63105; 314-505-7374; communications@csl.edu.