History

Each January since relocating from Springfield, Illinois, to Fort Wayne, Indiana, Concordia Theological Seminary has played host to friends and alumni through its symposia. The symposium idea grew out of confessional rallies which were commonplace during the 1960s and 70s when fundamental doctrines were being questioned. Disruptions within The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in the 1970s led the late seminary president, Dr. Robert D. Preus, to provide an opportunity for Lutherans from all over North America to study their confessional documents.This has become a campus-wide event, involving everyone from the seminary's administrative council and faculty members to the grounds, security and dining room staff.

The first two symposia (1977-78) were devoted to liturgical themes, but attendance did not permit their continuation. In 1978 the first symposium on the Lutheran Confessions was held with a bequest from the late Herman Fink of Connecticut. Speakers for that occasion were seminary professors Dr. Eugene Klug and Dr. C. George Fry, the late Dr. Henry Hamann of Australia, Dr. Tom Hardt of Sweden and Dr. Norman Nagel, now of St. Louis. The Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions takes a scholarly look at these documents, holding up traditional Lutheran doctrines at a time when they are increasingly coming under dispute.

In 1986 the Annual Exegetical Symposium, sponsored by that department, began with a half day offering and now covers one and a half days. In 1990 the Annual Liturgical Symposium was reactivated within the Confessional Symposium. Today the three symposia constitute a four-day event during the third week of January.

Many of our guests, especially lay people and members of other denominations, may not know the role the Lutheran Confessions play in our seminary and church. Lutheran congregations and pastors at ordination are committed to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds and to Melanchthon's Augsburg Confession (AC or CA) [1530], the Apology (Ap) [1531] and the Treatise (Tr) [1534], Luther's Small (SA) and Large Catechisms (LC) [1529], and his Smalkald Articles (SA), The Formula of Concord (FC) [1577], and the Introduction to the Book of Concord [1580].

Annual themes are related to the anniversary of these documents or events in the church's life to which these documents spoke. In 1979 the symposium was dedicated to the 450th anniversary of Luther's Small and Large Catechisms. The 450th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession was recognized in 1980 and the same anniversary for the Apology in 1981. A major faux pas in 1981, which was later corrected, was failure to take note of the 1600th anniversary of the Constantinopolitan Creed (our Nicene Creed).

Presenters have come from all over the world and include clergy from all the major Lutheran synods and the Roman, Eastern Orthodox and Reformed communions.