Mar 24, 2023 Print This Article

A statement on the pro-life convictions of invited guest preacher Dr. S T Williams Jr.

We have received some expressions of concern regarding the invitation of Dr. S T Williams to preach at the Multiethnic Symposium to be held at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis May 2–3. These concerns center around quotations of Pastor Williams in a Los Angeles Times article following the overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer, quotations which seemed to imply that Williams was not opposed to abortion. Within a few days of the article’s publication, Williams engaged in conversation with his Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) District President Dr. Mike Gibson and offered a written clarification of his views. This written clarification expressed his apology for the confusion caused and his regret that he had relied on a journalist to represent his convictions. This clarification and apology has been posted on the LCMS Pacific Southwest District website since July 2022.

In that letter to Gibson, Williams wrote: “First, please know that I am in complete agreement with the Biblical and Confessional pro-life position of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. I do not believe that abortion should ever be viewed as a method for family planning, as was suggested by the Times reporter. It is my sincere apology, President Gibson, for not making my theological, sociological, and theoretical position clearer in the short five-minute interview.”

In a recent personal conversation with Pastor Williams, he confirmed to me his conviction that each life in the womb is sacred, created by God, and to be valued and protected. He also stressed, emphatically, that every life outside the womb, and especially the most vulnerable, is to be equally valued and defended by Christians.

Concordia Seminary sponsors an annual Multiethnic Symposium to bring together LCMS people involved in outreach among diverse ethnic communities in the U.S., to learn about such Gospel efforts, and to encourage one another in such efforts. Williams, as an African-American pastor in a diverse L.A. congregation, as president of the LCMS Black Clergy Caucus, with a background of military service, parish ministry experience in large suburban church settings and in small urban church settings, and strong relationships with both of our LCMS seminaries, is a significant voice in these discussions. We are grateful that this year he will be the preacher for the symposium’s evening worship service.

We are so grateful that our Lord Jesus came not only for the lost sheep of Israel, but also for all of us Gentiles — men, women and children of every race, tribe and language. As we seek to shine the light of Christ into our communities and neighborhoods, it is vital that we treat those outside the church with Christian love and that we exhibit a genuine desire to understand one another — that we don’t reactively “write off” our neighbors or disparage them. How much more so ought we to make every effort to be fair with one another inside the church, to treat one another with Christian charity, and to be sure that we understand one another, and one another’s views, before making public insinuations and accusations.

Lord God, heavenly Father, defend the lives that You Yourself are knitting together in their mother’s wombs. Have mercy on them. Preserve among us doctrinal clarity and brotherly charity. Grant us the light and the harmony that flow from Your Word and Your Truth. Give us love and compassion for those who are spiritually lost and for all who are vulnerable and threatened. Conform us to the image of Your Son. Have mercy on us all, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Dr. Thomas J. Egger, President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis