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Concordia Seminary President John F. Johnson Accepts Call

Dr. John F. Johnson, president and professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, has accepted the call to serve as the 10th president of Concordia University, River Forest, Ill. Johnson announced his acceptance of the call today at a 3:30 p.m. meeting of Seminary faculty and staff and stated that he will serve as the Seminary’s president through Nov. 2.

Johnson shared with the Seminary’s faculty and staff some of his observations in accepting the call to Concordia University. “The purpose of Concordia Seminary is to prepare men for the vocation of pastor. Also, as Lutherans, there is another dimension to the concept of vocation, and that is to prepare laypeople and other church workers for dedicated service in society. We are at a critical point in our church, I think, in defining. . .what it is to have liberal arts universities in the Lutheran tradition.”

In summarizing his thoughts concerning the opportunity to serve as a Lutheran university president, Johnson added, “Could it not be exciting and interesting to call to the church’s mind the importance of the broader dimension of vocation and what it might mean for this church to have a true liberal arts university dedicated to the highest qualities of scholarship?” He concluded by saying, “and so I decided. . .that the call to Concordia University, River Forest, is what I would like to do.”

Johnson has more than 25 years experience at Concordia Seminary and is in his 15th year as the Seminary’s president. Johnson stated that 15 years as a seminary president is a long time to be the president, both personally for the president and for a seminary. He indicated that he is looking forward to the challenge and excitement of shaping liberal arts education in the Lutheran tradition provided for him through this call.

At the Sept. 27 meeting, he issued a personal word of appreciation to the faculty he shaped at Concordia Seminary during his presidency and commented on the importance of Concordia Seminary to the church. “Of the 45 faculty members here today, 40 of you have come during my presidency. And I remember talking with each and every one of you and saying that the reason you should come to Concordia Seminary is because this is the most important institution in the church. I am under no illusions. Concordia University, River Forest is not the most important institution in the church. This is.”

According to previously published reports from Concordia University, River Forest, Johnson will be installed during a worship service on Sunday, Nov. 7, in Concordia University’s Chapel of Our Lord. The academic inauguration is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Nov. 12.

“I think it is fair to say that our Seminary community is experiencing a wide range of feelings at this point,” commented Rev. Glen Thomas, the Seminary’s vice president for seminary relations. “There is a sense of gratitude to God for the many blessings which have been received during Dr. Johnson’s presidency. There is also the sense of deep sadness that accompanies any pending ‘good-bye’ of this type. We share a desire to pray for the Johnsons and our partners in the Gospel at Concordia University as they begin this new chapter in their lives together. We also would humbly request the prayers of all in the church as we initiate the process of calling the 10th president of Concordia Seminary.”

During the faculty and staff assembly, Johnson announced that he will be calling the Seminary’s Board of Regents to campus for an Oct. 18 meeting. During this meeting, the Board will name an interim president for Concordia Seminary and will elect its members to a search committee which will oversee the process of securing a list of candidates to serve as the Seminary’s next president.

Portions of Johnson’s comments at the Sept. 27 assembly will be available as audio files on the Seminary’s Web site (www.csl.edu/news.htm).

For more information, contact Communications, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Ave., St. Louis, 63105; 314-505-7375; communications@csl.edu.