CTSFW Sends Out Servants in Christ Who Teach the Faithful, Reach the Lost, and Care for All
FORT WAYNE, IN, April 29, 2022—This year’s Vicarage and Deaconess Internship Assignment Service saw Kramer Chapel filled to the brim, and, from the resounding sound of the congregation’s singing, it was apparent that the feeling behind “Awake, My Heart, with Gladness” was truly felt. What a blessing to need to print more bulletins!
Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW) President Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. commented on his own gladness, with reverence for the sacred duty God has given the Seminary of forming and sending servants of the church into ministry. “This is the great week of our institution when we see the fruits of our labor being realized…It gives focus to us as faculty and to our entire community as to what we are here for. The Seminary does not exist for its own sake. It exists for the sake of Christ and His mission of proclaiming the Gospel to a world in need and for preparing men for pastoral service and women for diaconal service in His church.”
“I can do anything for a year, right?” joked the Reverend Wilfred L. Karsten, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Moline, Illinois, in his sermon providing practical applications for what students may experience in their upcoming vicarage and internship assignments. Based on John 15, Karsten addressed what it truly means to be able to “do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Taking the words out of context is “a problem . . . dangerous . . . a hazard to our faith.” “The ‘I can do anything’ attitude” has “too much idealism and not enough realism, too much pride and not enough humility, too much you and not enough Him.” He is the vine and we are the branches. We did not choose him, He chose us. He’s the Master, we are the servants. He is the Giver, we are the receivers. He is the food producer, we are the fruit bearers. Fruitfulness cannot be quantified with reports, it is when you abide in Him. He advised that, though we give God the glory for well-intentioned people offering praise for our efforts, “don’t let it go to your head.” Every time we lift up ourselves we diminish the Lord. We are the Lord’s ambassadors, not the Lord. Our faith is not in ourselves, it is in our God. There can be disappointments, but “you are His own and the Lord is with you.” It is important to remember what God tells us in Scripture, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16a).
The Rev. Karsten has been faithfully serving as an outstanding mentor and vicarage supervisor for many years and, at Tuesday evening’s service, he was given the honor of becoming the first recipient of the new Wyneken Vicarage Award, created to recognize and celebrate long-time vicarage supervisors and congregations. In giving the award, Dr. Rast said, “This award will be given to pastors and congregations who have demonstrated exceptional service to the church by having vicars, usually for many years, for it is in this partnership between the Seminary and congregations and pastors that our pastoral formation is so focused on the Gospel as it is. It is my great pleasure to give the Wyneken award to Pastor Karsten and the Saints of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Moline, Illinois. Pastor Karsten has supervised 17—now 18—vicars. Within the larger congregation, he will be number 53, a half-century of forming pastors. That is really quite remarkable. There are literally generations of men who have benefited from the love and care that Holy Cross has shown to its vicars. Pastor Karsten, we thank God for you and Holy Cross congregation for all you do in service to Christ.”
Director of Vicarage and Internship Dr. Todd Peperkorn commented on the significance of vicarage in the formation of pastors. “Vicarage is an important milestone for these men in their preparation for the Holy Ministry. After two years of intense study and formation, they will be going out all over the country to learn from some of the finest congregations and pastors in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). This is where the study, the prayers, and the meditation on the Word all come together for the sake of Christ’s people. They will be learning under a pastor who helps them to integrate what they have learned into the daily rhythm of congregational life. What a wonderful gift this is for them and for these congregations.”
Director of Deaconess Formation Dr. Bushur talked about the importance of the diaconal internship experience in the formation of strong and compassionate deaconesses who are able share the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. “The Seminary exists for the sake of the church and the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations. Thus, the placement of our students in the church as servants of Christ is a great joy for the Seminary community because it fulfills the goal and purpose of our life and work.”
Just when the campus thought it had seen a full chapel, Candidate Call Day saw 571 excited people fill its pews and its rafters with beautiful music, not to mention the thousands that joined the #CallDayWatchParty virtually for this special day. As Director of Certification and Placement Dr. Jefferey Pulse noted, “Another spring placement day has come and, once again, we witness the church of God at work. Seminaries, district presidents, placement directors, congregations, administrative staff people—the church is at work and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, God continues the work of His kingdom. Truly, a joyful day!”
In his sermon, the Reverend Donald J. Fondow, the President of the Minnesota North District of LCMS, encouraged students to remain humble, but also remain fortified in their identity as children and servants of Christ. He told the story of a friend, the Rev. Bernhard M. Seter, who recently passed after 44 years in the parish, and was working on a book called Chicken Soul for the Soup. He spoke of what it means to be in the soup, to be in a difficult position in this new role of shepherding a flock. Fondow asked if the students were scared and—if not—he said that they should be. He noted that 80% of people fear public speaking more than dying, and yet our pastors are called every week to get up in front of people and tell them things that they do not want to hear. We live in an “ABC society” meaning “Anything But Christian.” What we say has eternal consequences. What we preach is scary, but we just need to keep our focus fixed on Jesus, and He promises that He will work everything for the good of those who love Him. Apart from Christ, we have a Chicken Soul for the Soup. Citing C.F.W. Walther, he affirmed that “God does not expect from us gifts He has not given us.” Our well-trained ministers, with the help of our Lord, are up to the task.
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Rev. Matthew C. Harrison President remarked how it was amazing that two of CTSFW’s candidates were going to founding member congregations of the Missouri Synod. He spoke of the wonderful people in his first congregation and how they helped continue to form him as a pastor. He talked about what a powerful thing it is that pastors see everyone at their worst and best moments, from death and crises to weddings and Baptisms. “As you go through crosses and trials, the Lord will make you the pastor He would have you be.” He referenced Romans 8:28: “all things work together for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purposes. You are called, and now God’s going to work everything for good. Count on it. We love you. Thank you. We’ll be praying for you.”
Northern Illinois District President Allan Buss spoke about the tremendous ways God empowers imperfect people and the wonderful ways they encourage each other in service. “It is humbling to see how the Lord of the church raises up the next generation of Pastors and their families. The Lord works beyond and through our weaknesses and limitations for His bigger and holy purposes. We rally around each other, pray for each other and give thanks. With all pastors, as district presidents, we also look back on this special time in our own lives and take all things in perspective trusting the Lord’s plan. The mission goes on and the Gospel still works mightily!”
Minnesota North District President Rev. Donald Fondow spoke of the tremendous responsibility of ministry and his joy in welcoming new servants to their new roles in the church. “Our Lord Jesus said to His disciples: ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’ (Matthew 9:37–38). The Vicarage and Deaconess Assignment Service and the Call Service demonstrate that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. Being called into Christ’s Church as a pastor or deaconess is a wonderful privilege and a tremendous responsibility. What a joy to welcome these servants as they join with us in making disciples for life.”
Texas District President Rev. Michael W. Newman emphasized the importance of the continued partnerships between the Seminary, faculty, students, pastors, Synod leadership, and the church. “God’s faithfulness to send workers into the harvest is so evident on Call Day. We give thanks for these devoted servants who heed the Master’s gracious call. It is a privilege to serve both congregations and workers so that, together, we can help the Gospel light shine brightly to many. The partnership with students and faculty is a joyful collaboration that serves the precious people of Christ’s church. I rejoice in the fine and faithful work of our seminaries. Being in relationship with constituents is not only a great joy, but it builds trust and gratitude in our beloved Synod. God’s people, walking together, bring Jesus’ blessing to the Church and to the world.”
After both services, the wonderful ladies of the Seminary Guild served delicious refreshments to all in attendance, and the large and lively crowd continued to enjoy fellowship together.
This year’s Vicarage and Deaconess Internship Assignment Service and Candidate Call Service was truly a blessing to all who joined, both online and in person, and the joy on Dr. Rast’s face was apparent in the presence of so many dear friends and fervent supporters of the church and its Seminary. “This year’s services were truly a blessing and a joy to all who joined, both online and in person. “It’s an honor and a blessing to be part of such special and important days in our Seminary and the future of our church. We prayerfully send these men and women out into the world to serve God and His people, realizing what a powerful responsibility and privilege it is to form servants in Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all.”
For a full list of vicarages, deaconess internship assignments, and candidate placements, visit callday.ctsfw.edu.
Soli Deo Gloria