“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16)
On Aug. 25, 1975, I was ordained. Eight days later I was making a call on one of our members in a nursing home. It was my first pastoral call. The gentleman was almost deaf. If he had been totally deaf, my visit would perhaps have been less stressful. But since he was only almost deaf, he could hear me — if I shouted. So I shouted. I yelled my name at him as I introduced myself. I screamed at him as I told him about my family. I shrieked as I described how we were settling into our new home. And then I had a devotion for him and everyone in the vicinity (about 20–25 people) heard me shout God’s Word, shout the meaning of it and shout a prayer with and for this kind, old man.
So on my first pastoral call, at the very beginning of my ministry, I learned a very important lesson: I better not be ashamed of the Gospel. For the rest of my ministry I would be preaching it, teaching it, proclaiming it and even shouting it! I better not be ashamed of it.
I don’t know why my pastor decided to give me Romans 1:16 on the day of my confirmation, but I have been grateful countless times that he did. As a minister of the Gospel, I needed confidence and certainty regarding the message that would be at the heart of my ministry. That truth has not changed as I begin my service here at the Seminary. The Gospel is central.
So it is for Concordia Seminary. We are not ashamed of the Gospel. The message about Christ, His life for us, His death for us, His resurrection assuring us of our own resurrection and everlasting life, is at the center of everything we do here. How can we be ashamed of this message? It is God’s power for our salvation. And it is the power for salvation for everyone who believes it. With this assurance you entered the holy ministry. With this assurance you have been preaching and teaching ever since! And God has blessed your proclamation of the Gospel.
For this reason Concordia Seminary was founded, that the Gospel might be preached. For this reason professors study and write and teach, students study and learn and prepare, donors give, supporters support. By the grace of God the Gospel has been revealed to us, and by the grace of God we are honored to teach and proclaim it. What a privilege! What a joy!
I love Concordia Seminary. I grew up here. My father was a professor here for 17 years, and from fourth grade through high school I had the pleasure of living on this campus. As I begin my service here as interim president, I am experiencing one memory after another flooding back to remind me of the time when I was growing up on this campus — when I roamed the open spaces and even some of the buildings with my brother Klemet and when I played with the children of the other professors. The memories are all good ones and make me happy. But they cannot compare to the joy I experience knowing the mission of Concordia Seminary — to preach and teach the Gospel, to prepare those who will preach and teach the Gospel. The message about Jesus our Savior who sacrificed Himself and died for us to atone for our sin, who rose for us that we might rise to life through faith in Him, is a message of which we will never be ashamed. The mission we share, to proclaim Him who is the only hope for a lost world, gives purpose to our Seminary, to our ministry, to our lives. Thank you for your participation with me and with our Seminary in the shouting out of the precious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. Daniel Preus, Interim President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis