Wednesday, June 13 marked the 75th Anniversary of the dedication of the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis campus. On June 13, 1926, an estimated 75,000 people gathered on the 72-acre site in suburban St. Louis to dedicate the land and its buildings to the sacred task of preparing pastors, missionaries and chaplains for The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, or, The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other States, as it was called at that time.
The Seminary marked the anniversary with a 9:00 a.m. Service of Morning Prayer in Concordia’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. Dr. John F. Johnson, president of Concordia Seminary, served as preacher for the service and former Seminary president, Dr. Ralph A. Bohlmann, served as lector. Utilizing John 12:28 as the sermon text, Johnson proclaimed recounted God’s blessings on the Seminary campus over the past 75 years, “God has indeed glorified His name here over those years. Here, literally thousands of individuals have been formed as pastors, missionaries and chaplains. Here, in classroom and dormitory and dining hall and chapel and apartment, servants have been prepared to proclaim His salvation to the very ends of the earth. Here, men have come to understand what it is to be called, ‘pastor.'”
From 11:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the entire Concordia Seminary community gathered for a cookout in the Seminary’s Luther Statue Park. The cookout, sponsored by Lutheran Brotherhood, gave the students, faculty, staff, as well as their families, the opportunity to share food and fellowship in the middle of the day. “We are so very thankful to Lutheran Brotherhood for their generosity,” commented Rev. Glen Thomas, vice president for seminary relations at Concordia Seminary. “We had a wonderful day, sunny with a light breeze, and the cookout was such an enjoyable experience for our entire Seminary family.”
At 7:00 p.m., a Festival of Remembrance and Evening Prayer was held in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus featuring select musicians and vocalists from Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. Charles, Mo. and St. Louis area Lutheran high schools, under the direction of Mr. Allen Loesel. The event, like the morning service, was broadcast live on KFUO AM radio station and was available worldwide on the station’s Internet site (www.kfuo.org).
In the 7:00 p.m. Festival of Remembrance and Evening Prayer, Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn, associate professor of historical theology at Concordia Seminary, delivered an address summarizing and recounting many of the events leading up to the construction of the campus. During his address, Feuerhahn quoted the Seminary’s architect, the world-renowned Conrad Kellermann, from an article which appeared following the Seminary’s dedication, “Builders of Concordia we were, but in one sense only. You are the builders, you thousands of men and women that prayed to God for a greater Seminary, you that gladly gave of your time, service, and counsel, and above all, you that have so unselfishly contributed of your earnings, making this seat of learning a monument to Christian art, a symbol of conquering faith, a lasting expression of the love of our Father. In the last analysis, He who fashioned our own bodies is the Builder. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” [Psalm 127:1] Alma Mater, 19.10 (1 Mar 1929) 194.
The evening event also featured an address by President Johnson titled, “Vision for the Future,” in which Johnson highlighted the future direction for the Seminary, summarized in three main emphases. “First, in the immediate future, there will be a renewed emphasis on the enhancement of this campus as a living and learning community. Renovation, modernization and construction of facilities on our campus throughout its existence, and especially over the past decade, have been dramatic,” said Johnson. “For the first time a master plan has been adopted which offers a cohesive, integrative approach to campus renovation and development over the next fifteen years.”
Second, Johnson emphasized the need for pastors, missionaries and chaplains in the church today and stated that the Seminary will continue to find ways to reach out beyond the walls of the campus in order to provide pastoral formation which is of the highest caliber, but delivered in non-traditional methods. “Concordia Seminary has been an advocate for the exploration of alternative programs for the preparation of pastors, distance education, and specialized theological study programs for ethnic pastors and leaders,’ stated Johnson. “We will continue to pursue this direction in the future, not as a seminary without walls sacrificing the critical benefits of a strong, academically excellent, residential seminary education. But as a ‘seminary beyond walls’ to meet the critical needs of the Church we are here to serve. We will offer creative and flexible approaches to pastoral education utilizing all of the technological and other resources at our disposal.”
The third point of Johnson’s three-fold future vision for Concordia Seminary is that Concordia Seminary, as a seminary of the church, would continue to respond to the ministry needs of the Church in a changing world. “In the future, as in our most recent past, we will continue to shape a program of study designed to meet ecclesiastical and cultural challenges and changes, said Johnson. “Distinctive changes in ministry for the 21st century will impact our own vocation as a seminary of the church. They include the reality of a culturally and ethnically pluralistic society, the importance of mission outreach and the need for an even greater degree of biblical and theological knowledge to address a post-modern age.”
A reception in the Seminary’s Chapel Plaza followed the Festival of Remembrance and Evening Prayer.
For more information, visit the Seminary’s Web site, www.csl.edu, where pictures and sound files of the day’s activities are available, or contact: Communications Office, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Ave., St. Louis, Mo., 63105; 314.505.7374.