175th Anniversary Thank You Celebration

FORT WAYNE, IN, October 29, 2021—Close to 350 people from congregations near and far gathered on October 24, 2021, on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), for a special 175th Thank You Celebration. The Seminary has long been aware that its surviving and thriving for 175 years has been the result of God’s grace and the faithful support of His beloved bride, the Church. The whole campus community was excited and overjoyed at the turnout and the opportunity to give thanks where it was due—to our Heavenly Father and generous congregations.

The event began with a Celebratory Vespers service, with a hymn sung in the Kramer Chapel at the opening of our 175th academic year. This first hymn was the inspiring “Open Wide the Chapel Doors,” written by Katie Schuermann, winner of the 175th-anniversary hymn-writing contest. During the turbulent years of 2020 and even in honor of navigating waters both rocky and smooth for 175 years, the hymn has been especially poignant, full of imagery referencing Noah’s ark and how the Lord shields us, redeems us, and carries us through life’s storms.

Dr. Naomichi Masaki opened his sermon with the 175th-anniversary theme verse: “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; Make known his deeds among the peoples!” (Psalm 105:1). “Indeed, what a remarkable milestone! Together, ‘we give thanks to the Lord’ for His use of all of us to ‘make known his deeds among the peoples!’”
Masaki spoke of leaders past and present and how they have worked to fulfill the Seminary’s mission to teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all. “Dr. Preus expounded on the meaning of three words—Concordia, Theological, and Seminary—in his inaugural address back in 1974. In contrast to many seminaries in the world that teach everything but theology, he said that CTSFW is dedicated to implanting the seed of the Gospel in all its articles in the minds, hearts, and lives of our students. Dr. Wenthe added to this, in his 150th celebration remarks of 1996, four distinctively Wenthean phrases: Integrity of Spirit, Clarity of Mind, Charity of Heart, and Centrality of Mission. He stressed the importance of engaging in the contemporary culture. He emphasized the vitality of the chapel as our magnificent anniversary hymn, ‘Open Wide the Chapel Doors,’ captures perfectly. He said, ‘Whether our culture and world perceive it or not, the church and its seminaries are more crucial for the future than Wall Street or Washington.’”

After the beautiful service, the Seminary’s guests were invited into the Sihler Auditorium for the premiere of the Seminary’s anniversary video: “Make Known His Deeds!”—175 Years of Teaching the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Caring for All. Featuring interviews with professors and area pastors, the 16-minute video told the story of the Seminary, from its German roots with Wyneken and Löhe, to present day and on into the next 175 years. Dr. Ben Mayes also spoke about several alumni and their impact in the world, along with having area fieldwork supervisors stand and be recognized for their service to CTSFW and the Church.

It was truly a delight and a blessing to see so many of our Church’s people gathered together, a family united and gathered in joyful fellowship. It was wonderful to have the Katherine Luther Dining Hall filled to the brim with pleasant chatter and the smells of delicious German fare.
A wonderful time was had by all, and it is the Seminary’s fervent prayer that its churches feel appreciated and that together they continue to develop and grow these vital, precious relationships for many years to come.
As a historian and Seminary president, Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. is keenly aware of how the crucial and precious relationship between the Seminary and the Church has sustained CTSFW for 175 years, “Until He returns, we will continue to prepare pastors and deaconesses to proclaim the Gospel in this world. And we’re only able to do it—from our history, from our beginning, throughout our various places of activity—we’ve only been able to do it because of the partnerships we have with the people of God, as they’ve supported the institution, as they’ve called pastors and now deaconesses in service, as they’ve helped prepare service of God in Christ who will teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all. So, together, as we move into our next 175 years, we will continue, together, to ‘Make Known His Deeds!’”

Soli Deo Gloria