What a busy week we just had on campus! Commencement activities and a productive meeting of our Board of Regents. Here are a few highlights.
Commencement day activities began with the Theological Diploma Service in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. Provost Dr. Douglas L. Rutt delivered the sermon from John 13, “What Kind of Love?”
“You are a disciple of Jesus — you have a certain hope, a certain strength, a certain peace that cannot be explained in any other way,” Rutt said. “You are a disciple of Jesus who empowers you with a kind of love that will free you to serve, to truly serve and to truly love.”
Commencement exercises in the Main Quadrangle outdoors – no threat of rain this year! – wrapped up the day’s events. Forty Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degrees were awarded, five Master of Arts degrees and seven students earned a Master of Sacred Theology degree. In addition, six earned the Doctor of Ministry degree and four earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree. We also recognized five students who earned their Residential Alternate Route (RAR) certificates.
That only 40 M.Div. and five RARs were awarded is a reminder of our need to build enrollment. The Board of Regents took a significant step in that direction to increase enrollment not only for M.Div. and RAR, but also for the Center for Hispanic Studies, Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology and graduate programs. In the coming weeks the details of the board’s action plan will be shared. Please continue to guide young people into discernment about a life in ministry.
U.S. Rep. Dr. Larry Bucshon for the 8th District of Indiana delivered the Commencement address, which focused on the interface of government and religion. “Where do I see you, today’s graduates, playing a substantial role in the future of our country?” Bucshon asked during his address. “‘Here am I! Send me.’ — Your theme from this academic year reflecting the zeal to take the Gospel into your community, nation and world — is a great calling card so to speak. Engagement in the community is obvious but being involved in your nation and world? Maybe not so much.
“As an elected official I’d like to encourage you to find an avenue to engage with your government officials. … A message of love, understanding and forgiveness is one everyone should embrace. The goal from my perspective is to soften the hearts of those who may have lost their spiritual way and help bring them back on course so the decisions they make have a strong moral and ethical foundation.”
The Seminary’s faculty presented the Christus Vivit Award to Dan and Marti Huss of Cincinnati, Ohio. They have been active in area Lutheran ministries and are avid supporters of the Seminary, from which their son, John, graduated. The faculty also presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dr. Samuel Nafzger (’65) of Washington, Mo.; an honorary Doctor of Divinity to Archbishop Jānis Vanags of Riga, Latvia; honorary Doctor of Letters to Dr. Werner Rudolf Albert Klän of Oberursel, Germany; and honorary Doctor of Laws to Bucshon and to Dr. Melissa Salomón of Chula Vista, Calif.
Also during the ceremony, Dean of Faculty Dr. David Peter recognized retiring Mission Professor of Exegetical Theology Dr. Victor Raj and presented him with an Emeritus Medallion for his service to the Seminary. Raj retired after 24 years as a faculty member. “His zeal for the mission of the church, quiet and steady advocacy for the multinational reality of Christ’s kingdom, selfless service, quick smile and generous outlook have been a tonic to his colleagues that will be sorely missed,” Peter said.
Now the pace of life here slows down a bit, a break before the beginning of fall classes. Thank you for your encouragement through the past year, and I pray that we have been of encouragement and help to you in your most important ministries. May you also enjoy some quiet time, by yourself, with family and most of all, with our Savior.
“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31 ESV).
Dr. Dale A. Meyer, President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis