CTSFW’s Response to COVID-19
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In light of the orders and recommendations made by the CDC and the federal government and Indiana Governor Holcomb’s recent executive order extending the closure of schools and the continuing escalation of COVID-19 cases, the Seminary’s leadership team has chosen to suspend all face-to-face courses through the remainder of Spring Quarter. Thanks be to God, we have been blessed with excellent technological resources. Professors are able to record their courses and lead live sessions online while library staff scan the reading materials that are not already available online. This will ensure students have the tools they need to continue their coursework and to complete their year on schedule.
This decision is not made lightly, but out of love and concern for our students, staff, faculty, and community. It is important that in these days of uncertainty we give our students some continuity and stability. With this decision made, faculty, staff, and students will be able to make plans for the next couple of months.
This also means we are canceling or postponing all on-campus events through mid-May. Please note, however, that we will be holding our Vicarage & Deaconess Internship Assignment Service along with our Candidate Call Service in a combined service on Wednesday, April 29. While these services cannot be held in person, we will broadcast in an online format. We are currently working on the logistics. For updates and details as they develop, keep an eye on http://callday.ctsfw.edu, where the service will eventually be streamed live.
Though classes will take place solely online, we remain prayerfully hopeful that we will be able to gather in person for Baccalaureate Service and Commencement Exercises. That decision will be made on May 1 when we, hopefully, will have a better sense of the duration of this outbreak.
While this is not the formation process we planned for our students, especially those who are coming to the end of their time with us, we trust in the God who knows all things and uses them for our good. We persevere with Paul, who faced abuse, exile, and martyrdom, and still wrote these words in Romans 8: 18, 24-28:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us… For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
As for us, though staffing on campus is limited during this time, many continue working from home. Daily Chapel also continues, which can be watched Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. (Eastern Time) at www.ctsfw.edu/dailychapel or www.facebook.com/ctsfw.
Though vigilant, we are neither anxious nor troubled. “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:5-6). We have full confidence and reassurance in Christ, as well as the responsibility to serve those given into our care. This includes not only those most closely connected to our community from students to faculty to staff, but also the many people that are served in the greater Fort Wayne area through field work. We are particularly mindful of the people who are at greater risk, such as infants and those in the nursing homes we serve.
CTSFW remains committed to the residential training of our future pastors and deaconesses, as nothing can replace the learning that occurs on campus with direct and intense conversation between professors and future church workers. However, given these extraordinary times, the gift of modern technology for the delivery of course material is a great blessing. We look forward to a safe return to normalcy by this summer, when the seminary community can again be gathered together to be engaged in theological discourse and to be nourished through God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament.
Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your faithful perseverance through this time of frustration, fear, and disruption. We, too, pray for you. Our Lord will see us through this as He has promised. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
In Christ’s service,
Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr.