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Former Concordia Seminary President John H. Tietjen Dies

The Rev. Dr. John H. Tietjen, who served as the sixth president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis died on Sunday, Feb. 15 from complications of cancer. He was 75.

A 1953 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Tietjen served as its president from 1969 to 1974. In 1974, Tietjen was suspended by the Seminary’s Board of Control following an investigation into the instruction which was taking place in the Seminary’s classrooms. This suspension and subsequent events led to the majority of the Seminary’s students and faculty leaving the Seminary campus on Feb. 19, 1974 and forming Concordia Seminary in Exile (Christ Seminary-Seminex) in facilities provided by Eden Theological Seminary and St. Louis University Divinity School. Tietjen served as president of Christ Seminary-Seminex.

In 1989, following the dissolution of Christ Seminary-Seminex, Tietjen accepted a call to serve as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Worth, Tex. In November 2002, he was named pastor emeritus at Trinity, a position he occupied until his death. On Feb. 8, Trinity held a celebration commemorating Tietjen’s more than 50 years of service since ordination.

Tietjen was instrumental in the organization of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) in 1976, a group of approximately 400 Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregations which decided to form a new church body. In 1987, the AELC merged with the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Tietjen served briefly as bishop of the ELCA’s Metropolitan Chicago Synod.

“Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to the Tietjen family, the members of Trinity Lutheran Church, Forth Worth, Tex., and all who mourn as a result of Dr. Tietjen’s death,” commented Dr. John F. Johnson, president of Concordia Seminary. “While Dr. Tietjen’s years at Concordia Seminary were turbulent, we join in giving thanks to God for calling him to faith in Jesus Christ and for the eternal assurance this brings.”

Tietjen is survived by his wife, Ernestine (nee Damits), three daughters Catherine Anne Tietjen of Weatherford, Tex., Mary Angela Mindrup of Olathe, Kan., and Sarah Elizabeth Ross of Abilene, Tex.; a son, Laurence John Tietjen of Town and Country, Mo.; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for Tietjen at Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Worth, Tex., on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 10:30 a.m., followed by burial at Greenwood Memorial Park in Forth Worth.