Oct 06, 2023 Print This Article

Dear alumni

Dr. Thomas J. Egger photo

Greetings in the name of Jesus, the most gracious Host who extends to us the most hearty welcome!

Since the earliest times, Christians have been known for their hospitality, as they display their Lord’s love and welcome to others. St. Paul says of pastors, in particular, that they must “be hospitable” (Titus 1:8). At Concordia Seminary, as we live as Christ’s people and as we form future pastors and deaconesses to proclaim and to manifest Christ’s love, we value hospitality.

We want our students and campus guests to experience the kind of friendliness, support, inclusion and togetherness that communicates to them loud and clear: We are glad you are here. You belong here. You are noticed and valued here. You are surrounded by love and support. As alumni, I hope that your years at Concordia Seminary carried this sense of welcome, belonging and support.

Such welcome and hospitality are essential for all our students but are especially crucial for our many international students who are sojourning with us in a “strange land.” I regularly remind the campus community (and myself!) to look for opportunities to connect with and befriend our international students, as well as American students, who seem a bit isolated.

With our beautiful campus and our significant connections to the broader church, we also have many opportunities to welcome guests from outside the Seminary. Runners or dog-walkers from the surrounding neighborhoods. City of Clayton events such as community meetings or Chamber of Commerce lunches. Guests attending our summer carillon concerts or special hymn festivals. Guests attending morning worship in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. Lutheran groups holding events or conferences here. International Lutheran church leaders visiting St. Louis. Alumni back on campus for reunions or just when passing through town. Prospective students coming to explore the possibility of studying for the ministry.

There are many opportunities to show Christ’s welcome to those inside and outside our Seminary family. We want to treat them all like family, to give them a glimpse of the kind, generous, welcoming Lord to whom we belong. This is why we have made Hospitality the fifth of 12 major initiatives in our current Strategic Plan. Among other actions, we will be conducting a thorough review of our Seminary’s hospitality program, assessing and optimizing our staff roles and our facilities’ capacity for events and guest housing. This is an area of strength for Concordia Seminary, and our goal is to build on that strength.

I have been in a number of public meetings recently with residents from the neighborhoods surrounding the Seminary. These meetings relate to our Campus Plan and the proposal to construct new student housing, refurbish some of our historic buildings and, through an agreement with Washington University, develop new athletic facilities. One of the most encouraging things about those meetings has been the repeated statement from numerous neighbors who came to the microphone that they love living by Concordia Seminary. They love coming onto our campus. They love the friendly, welcoming students and staff they have met here. They love the way the Seminary opens its campus to the rest of the community. They repeatedly said, “Concordia Seminary is a great neighbor.” I am so grateful to hear that, and proud to be a part of such a place.

Today and in the days ahead, let us all look for opportunities to be the hands and feet and voice of Christ, showing His love and welcome to all.

Lord, grant us grace to be hospitable, to notice and care for those around us, especially those who are most in need of love, provision, and belonging. Make us Your welcoming people, as we rejoice in the welcome of Your Son.

And, as we sang during Holy Communion in chapel recently:

Lord Jesus Christ, we humbly pray:
O keep us steadfast till that day
When each will be Your welcomed guest
In heaven’s high and holy feast. (LSB 623, v. 5)

In Christ’s love,

Thomas J. Egger