“This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt. 24:14 ESV).
As Diane and I move back to Collinsville, Ill., at the end of this month, one thought is foremost in my mind and passionate in my heart. Presidents, pastors and all church workers are creatures of a day. Sooner or later, our stewardship of churchly things is passed on to others. What endures through the changes and chances is our Lord Jesus. Mission is not the heart of our faith; Jesus is. When the Spirit through Law and Gospel brings us to the fear of God, then our mission will be vigorous. In my inaugural address 15 years ago, I began, “Concordia Seminary is all about Jesus Christ.” It was, is and, through humble dependence on the Word of our Savior, always will be.
His work in us means we cannot but speak of Jesus to our 21st-century context. Missouri Synod people are great about looking to the past, and indeed through the people and events of the past you and I have been immeasurably blessed, but, as you experience daily, we’re in a new ministry context that demands theological searching and scholarship about questions that couldn’t be imagined back in so-called “Christian America.” Your faculty excels in going to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions for guidance to live and witness in today’s post-church society. Please take advantage of the numerous resources the faculty makes available for your ministry.
Concordia Seminary is all about Jesus Christ. That’s not gnostic; it’s realized in the various institutional forms where the marks of Jesus’ church are present. By most institutional measures, Concordia Seminary is in a strong position. Our administration is diffused throughout the organization, collaboration is strong and accountability is practiced. This administration will provide stability during the coming months as we transition to our 11th president. Our financial position is strong. The pandemic will affect all of us, congregations and Seminary, but the fiscal conservatism we’ve practiced in the past will help us weather the crisis. We especially thank our donors who have mission-vision and continue to provide generously the resources for this Gospel mission, and I never tire of saying that our alma mater is a mission of the Lord Jesus.
When I sign the documents that establish endowments from our committed supporters, I always add a handwritten letter. I often say that their provision will assure that the Gospel of Jesus continues to be proclaimed long after we have been taken to heaven. That makes recruitment for ministry eternally important. We are looking at a significant increase in first-year residential students for the 2020–21 academic year. Our faculty and staff are working to bring more ethnic students into our programs, especially residential studies. Today’s students and tomorrow’s students have a passion for mission and ministry in their own times, just as we have had in ours. “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4 ESV).
It has been humbling for me to serve our alma mater as president and Diane as first lady. I am confident Concordia Seminary will flourish in the years ahead. “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). You, I and all the leaders of the institutional church will come into judgment for our lives and for our stewardship of our various calls (1 Cor. 3:12–13; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 4:13). As we look forward to The Day, our only confidence is in the unmerited grace of Jesus. “Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling” (LSB 761:3). “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (Ps. 67:1–2 ESV). Faith exclaims, “It’s a great time to be the church. It’s a great time to be at Concordia Seminary.”
Dr. Dale A. Meyer, President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis