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Helping the Seminary be accountable in a diverse world

Rev. Laokouxang (Kou) Seying says his heart is in education and his passion is mission work.

Seying joined the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in September as associate dean for urban and cross-cultural ministries and the Lutheran Foundation Professor of Urban and Cross-Cultural Ministry. He oversees the Seminary’s two ethnic-focused pastoral formation programs, the Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS) and the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT).

“Brother Kou brings an innermost wealth of churchmanship experience,” said Dr. John Loum, EIIT director. “He has a passion for mission and an ability for leading the Church and Seminary along the path of diversifying and awakening us to the sense and opportunities in this era of global integration and blessings.”

Seying grew up in the mountains of Laos and came to the United States as a refugee when he was 12 years old. He, along with his parents and four siblings, arrived in Indianapolis in 1976 and were sponsored by St. Peter Lutheran Church. If someone would have told him as a child, “One day you’re going to occupy an endowed chair at a premier seminary in America,” Seying said that would have been inconceivable. “It is simply God’s grace and mercy, according to His purpose.”

Rev. Kou Seying interview in November 2015
Rev. Kou Seying, Lutheran Foundation Professor of Urban and Cross-Cultural Ministry, was interviewed in November 2015 about the importance of partnerships in ministry to ethnic communities by a video team from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

The first ordained HMong pastor in The Lutheran Church­—Missouri Synod (LCMS), Seying previously served the LCMS California-Nevada-Hawaii District (CNH) beginning in 2004 as a deployed mission developer and strategist of Joy of Harvest Ministries in Merced, Calif.

“Professor Seying has years of experience serving and teaching in multicultural contexts, as well as working with mission churches throughout California,” said Provost Dr. Jeffrey Kloha. “He has already been connecting the Seminary to congregations, districts and the national office, and we look forward to the continued growth of our programs that form pastors for mission settings.”

Much of Seying’s multicultural ministry experience is in HMong, Southeast Asian and African immigrant communities, especially in the areas of leadership training. Besides serving the LCMS CNH District for more than a decade, he served as pastor of HMong Lutheran Church in St. Paul. Minn., 1991-95, and taught at Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn.

Seying holds a Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.; has studied systemic theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.;and is completing his doctorate of philosophy at Concordia Theological Seminary. Seying and his wife, Maykou, have four children.

At Concordia Seminary, Seying is working to see how all areas of the Seminary can embrace diversity.
“I’m talking to every department and we have a ways to go,” he said. “But it is not disappointing. That’s just the reality. We need to reflect America’s population.”

A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed the least diverse denominations in the country were
the National Baptist Convention, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the LCMS.

“My position is to help the Seminary be accountable with diversity,” Seying said. “The Church has to accept this challenge as an opportunity to embrace and be accountable to the biblical mandate Jesus gives to us,” he said, referring to the Great Commission. “Our accountability begins there. You can’t ignore your neighbors just because they have a different country of birth or cultures that are different from yours. The Gospel must go to all nations
and all the world is here. If we do not embrace these opportunities, the Church, and the LCMS will be irrelevant in a very short time.”

Rev. Kou Seying Preachers soccer team coach
Rev. Kou Seying coached the Preachers soccer team in the fall of 2015, which ended the season with a 3-5-1 record. The team also won the coveted Nicea Cup against Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

 

Out of our understanding of accountability, Seying said the Seminary needs to work toward being a more welcoming place to people of all backgrounds. That means embracing different cultures and connecting with others in ways we haven’t in the past.

How we embrace the mission will impact the Seminary, its students, the churches they serve and individual Christians in the pew, he said.

“We are training pastors, deaconesses, missionaries ­— servants who will embrace these mission opportunities,” Seying said. “We are connected instantly and what we do here at the Seminary impacts the rest of the world. This Seminary belongs to God. It is not just something that belongs to the white folks,” Seying said. “It is your Seminary, it is your Church. We need  to open our doors to other cultures. If we’re not visible, we’re not available. We need to cultivate our rich heritage of sound doctrine so we may interpret the present and enrich the future.”

Jackie Parker is a communications specialist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.