Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

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Many Voices, One Story


About the author:

Robert Marshall

The Rev. Dr. Robert Marshall was president of the Illinois Synod of the new Lutheran Church in America (LCA) from 1962 – 1968 and deeply involved with LSTC as it took shape during those years.

He was elected president of the LCA in 1968 and paved the way for the merger that formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988. He wrote this brief history (Chapter One) during the 1990s at the request of President William Lesher.

Dr. Marshall died in 2008.


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LSTC: A Brief History

by Robert Marshall

Chapter One: Beginnings

What is required to make a theological school? Many answers could be given--students, faculty, administration and organization, good personal relationships, supportive church members, prayer, divine grace; the list is endless. The answer would be incomplete, however, if it concentrated only upon current activities and convictions. Antecedent vision, planning, decisions, agreements; all contribute and a massive accumulation of hard work. We could look back through a history at least as long as Christianity; for the blessing of God in Jesus Christ started the movement, which eventually developed theological schools, as we know them today.

For the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, we shall be satisfied to look back in history a shorter time, primarily from its beginning full functions at Fifty-fifth Street and University Avenue in Chicago on October 1, 1967. This first chapter will depend heavily upon the history by Harold C. Skillrud, which he called "LSTC: Decade of Decision." Actually he looked back, as does this present chapter, to some of the antecedents as well as to the decade 1958-1968.

The beginnings are fed by sources that may be more remote and less visible than the decisive actions but which are every bit as determinative. LSTC took shape first in the minds and discussions of church leaders, then in the material development of a campus and the academic gathering of Faculty and students, an embodiment of a community of faith and its ministry.’

As the Church, So the Seminaries

The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago emerged from a Lutheran unity movement. During the Second World War and its aftermath, most Lutherans in the United States had been cooperating in emergency ministries through the National Lutheran Council. A decade after the end of the war, the urge for greater unity pushed the eight member churches in the Council to explore options for union. Theological and historical distinctions produced two unions, one in The American Lutheran Church and the other in the Lutheran Church in America. The latter spawned the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

It was 1955 when it became clear that four church bodies would work together for the union, which produced the Lutheran Church in America. Near the end of the following year, representatives of The American Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and the United Lutheran Church in America met in the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago to form the Joint Commission on Lutheran Unity. Theological education was on the agenda early and late during the course of six years of deliberation by the Joint Commission. Three of the churches had been accustomed to a single theological seminary, each owned and controlled by the respective church body. Offering quite a contrast, the United Lutheran Church had ten seminaries under the jurisdiction of regional synods. Consequently, two major issues confronted the move toward unity: (1) ownership and control of theological schools, (2) the number and location of these seminaries.

The debate about control of theological education was resolved by a compromise. Synods would relate to a single seminary in their region and provide its financial support. Those synods would exercise major control over the seminary through election of the board of directors, which would hold title to the property and maintain it, elect faculty and executive staff, and oversee policy formation and implementation. For the other part of the compromise, a Board of Theological Education would hold churchwide responsibility for recommending the number of seminaries, location and alignment with their supporting synods, and, in general, the standards of preparation for church vocations. This board was to present a master plan for theological education to the first regular convention of the new church body.

The precedent in three of the churches produced a strong disposition for church union to include union of seminaries, and developments pointed to Chicago as one location. To nourish that possibility, the University of Chicago had jumped the gun. In October 1956, even before the first meeting of the Joint Commission in December of that year, the Lutheran clergyman who was then dean of the Divinity School at the University, Jerald Brauer, convinced the Chancellor of the University, Lawrence Kimpton, to invite representatives of Augustana Theological Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois and Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary in Maywood, Illinois, to meet with him. Although the president and a board member from each of the two schools went to lunch with the Chancellor and the Dean, it was too early to arouse their interest. A year later when Dean Brauer made a similar effort, this time including the presidents of the Illinois Synod of the ULCA and the Central Conference of Augustana, the seminary presidents declined the invitation. Too much remained to be determined by the Joint Commission before the two larger seminaries in the Middle West would be willing to discuss specific implications of church union. Greater clarity was taking shape by the end of 1957, when the Joint Commission had twice voted for synodical control of seminaries, with a churchwide board delegated certain powers of oversight.

In January 1958 the board of the seminary in Maywood invited the seminary in Rock Island to join in discussing merger of the two schools, and the Augustana board accepted during the following month. At the first meeting in May, representatives from the two schools organized as the Inter-Seminary Committee and invited Grand View Theological Seminary (AELC) in Des Moines, Iowa and Suomi Theological Seminary (FELCA) in Hancock, Michigan to join the committee. Not only did the Finnish church accept the invitation at its convention during the summer, but it responded favorably to recommendations to move Suomi seminary to the Maywood campus in the fall of 1958. The following summer the AELC made a similar decision and the move of Grand View Seminary was completed in time for the opening of school in the fall of 1960. As a result, the Lutheran Church in America at its beginning had four theological schools in Illinois, one from each tradition of the merging churches.

Enduring Foundations

As plans moved forward for combining the four seminaries into a single new school, consensus converged upon location in the Chicago metropolitan area and in the neighborhood of a major university. For understanding the value of such a location, each of the four traditions had a long history to draw upon. The Lutheran Reformation had been born at a university. At Wittenberg in Germany, Phillip Melanchthon insisted on using the fruits of humanism in the service of religion. This ideal of a broad educational base for a theology pertinent to all of life, found a place in the four traditions.

Augustana Seminary, had actually begun in Chicago in 1860, the same year in which the Augustana Synod organized. Three of the great founders, Lars P. Esbjorn, T.N. Hasselquist and Erland Carlson were products of the university system in Sweden where education by the theological faculty of a university was required for ordination. Esbjorn, the first president of the school, which combined seminary and college training, had earlier taught both theology and science as Scandinavian Professor at Illinois State University, a school of the Synod of Northern Illinois. He was so convinced that a large city with great educational resources was the best location, that when the Augustana synod decided, within three years, to move its school out of Chicago, Esbjorn resigned and returned to Sweden. Almost a century later, in 1947, Dr. Conrad Bergendoff, then President of Augustana College and Theological Seminary, retained the ideal of the founders. In his report to the Augustana Synod he said, "Drawing away from the university we have made theological training a profession, a ministry within the congregation instead of a prophecy, an interpretation of God's will to the world." In the history of the seminary, Dr. G. Everett Arden wrote, "The leaders of Augustana did not make the mistake which often was evident on the American frontier a century ago, of holding that a concentrated course in Biblical exegesis coupled with homiletical advice constituted all the training necessary for 'a plain preacher to plain people'. They had a great and profound vision of the Christian ministry and its needs, and their educational ideal was the university."

In the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, a tradition of Christian humanism had been fostered among its founders by their theological education at the university in Copenhagen, Denmark as well as by the influence of N.F.S. Grundtvig and the folk school movement. The Danish Lutheran Seminary founded in a folk school building at West Denmark, Wisconsin in 1886 proved to be too isolated and too limited in its curriculum. Although the recently established Lutheran seminary in Chicago was considered among the possible locations, Des Moines, Iowa was chosen in 1896 for a school, which would bear the name Grand View. The historian, Enok Mortensen, described the intent as "nothing less than the University of the Danish Lutheran Church in America" located in "a thriving city.”

Pioneer Finnish immigrant pastors brought memories of their education at the University of Helsinki. At its second convention, the Suomi Synod voted to establish an institution of learning. After studying developments at Augustana College and Theological Seminary as a model for an American adaptation of the Scandinavian university ideal, the Finns began at Hancock, Michigan, with college courses in 1896. The first commencement in 1904 provided students in theology and Suomi College and Seminary was functioning fully in accord with the ideal of a "little" university.

As early as 1869, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of North America proposed the establishment of a theological seminary in Chicago, but the way ahead bad many obstacles. In 1872 the Council accepted a title to four acres of land on the north side of Chicago, which had been donated by Dr. W. A. Passavant, the Pittsburgh pastor who was a pioneer in inner mission work, and who believed seminaries should be located in cities where such work could engage the students. Plans for the new school relied upon the experience of the Council at its seminary in Philadelphia. Since the Augustana Synod was a member of the Council, hope ran high that the Synod would join in the new enterprise. Augustana was ready to move its school from Paxton to Rock Island, however, and having made that move, it wavered between opposing another school as close as Chicago and, on the other hand, seriously considering the separation of its seminary from the college in order to move it to Chicago. The great Chicago fire and a national financial panic also contributed to delay in founding the new seminary. The vision of a seminary where ministers for churches of English, German and Scandinavian backgrounds might be educated together had proven premature, but urban location and university connections remained a living possibility.

Finally in 1891, Chicago Lutheran Seminary opened for classes. The first president, Revere F, Weidner, was a graduate of the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia and had been teaching at Augustana College and Theological Seminary. He was a close friend of the first president of the University of Chicago, William Rainey Harper who joined him in joint publishing endeavors and urged him without success to join the faculty of the new university. The seminary was organized as a self-perpetuating corporation inorder that only those synods of the General Council which desired to do so would need to provide financial support. In spite of continuing adherence on the part of many to Passavant's zeal for ministry in the city, the seminary property was eventually sold to the developer of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. The school had succumbed to the lure of the suburbs and in 1910 the campus in Maywood became its home.

After conflict in the 1920s, which led to the withdrawal ofmany of the faculty and students to form Northwestern Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, and after the financial ravages of economic depression in the 1930s and decline in enrollment during the war years of the early 1940s, the Maywood school enjoyed a rebirth. Under the leadership of the Illinois Synod and its president, Dr. Armin G. Weng, synods took over ownership and control of the seminary, raised funds to repair the buildings, elected a new president and faculty. Interest in relocation, whetted by offers of real estate from both Northwestern University in Evanston and the University of Chicago, moved the seminary toward the more attractive offer from the latter, only to be frustrated by the withdrawal of the offer in 1948. Since the seminary was now prospering in its suburban location within a major metropolitan area, the vision of a location near a university in the very heart of urban life was laid aside; but it was not dead.

In fact, within another decade, the ideal dominated the very lively discussions about a new theological school. Harold Skillrud summarized: "...the decision to locate this school in a university-urban setting was informed by an educational ideal transmitted to America by Lutherans who founded seminaries in their new homeland during the last century. Accustomed to a university oriented theological education in their European homelands, these pioneers were concerned that theology continue to he related to all other academic disciplines and relevant to all facets of culture and society."

Decision, Decisions


Each of the four seminaries, which formed the Lutheran school of Theology, dealt with distinctive dynamics in reaching the decision to unite and relocate. When Suomi seminary moved to Maywood in 1958, the driving force came from difficulty in securing faculty and the recognition that more specializations were needed for an adequate theological faculty. At Grand View the motivation came from a dearth of students; but the decision came more easily for the faculty than for the constituency. Dean Johannes Knudsen had pointed to "the problem of attracting the desirable number of students" as early as 1953, when he spoke about the issue of accreditation and suggested the advisability of merging with another seminary. The following year he accepted a position on the faculty at Maywood.       In that same year, the convention of his church voted to keep Grand View seminary in Des Moines; in 1959 the problem remained the same and, with church union discussions underway, the AELC voted almost unanimously to affiliate Grand view seminary with the school in Maywood.

Augustana and Chicago seminaries did not have a problem of size. The enrollment on the Maywood campus was the largest ever and recent years bad brought the addition of two dormitories and a new library building along with the affiliation of the two seminaries. And Augustana's enrollment exceeded Maywood's. Concerns focused upon the effects of sharing financial support and students between two campuses 150 miles apart. Many options were explored: (1) maintaining both seminaries, (2) specialization with one seminary concentrating on undergraduate, the other on graduate, studies, (3) discontinuing one of the schools, (4) merging one or both of the schools with a seminary or seminaries outside of Illinois, especially for Augustana which could count on preserving its identity if it moved into the Minnesota concentration of Augustana church membership. Desiring to avoid a potentially competitive, weaker than necessary, survival operation, the schools grasped the opportunity for creating the one seminary which would represent all of the traditions flowing into the formation of the Lutheran Church in America.

Although the President of Augustana Seminary, Dr. Karl E. Mattson, had made known his personal preference by the end of 1959 for merger at Chicago, it took the Augustana Church another year and a half to reach a decision. Regional interests had demanded further study of other options for merger with Central seminary in Nebraska, Pacific seminary in California, or Northwestern seminary in Minnesota.
In the meantime, the Inter-Seminary Committee was developing the legal documents, which were necessary for a four-way merger. These documents required a name for the new seminary. Some suggested preserving previous names, for example, Augustana - Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary. Others wanted United Seminary of the LCA.  The name that won was the name today, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. When the documents went to the church bodies that owned three of the schools and to the synods, which hold control of the fourth, the votes in almost every case were unanimous. The decision to merge the four schools was completed by the end of summer 1961.


The legal documents included references to location in the Chicago area. Augustana's location had been eliminated rather easily. Maywood held out until near the end of the debate. Another site in the western suburbs was considered because two other seminaries, Baptist and Brethren, were relocating there; but a university location was preferred. In the neighborhood of Northwestern University, land was very expensive and difficult to buy. Although living conditions in Evanston seemed to be winning a favorable decision for a brief time, real estate problems eventually forced a negative conclusion.
A location at the University of Chicago held many advantages. Many were noted in a report by the American Association of Theological Schools, which was engaged as a consultant to the Inter-Seminary Committee. It asserted the need for students to experience the secularity of modern society in the way the university provided it. At the same time it pointed to the large number of Lutheran congregations in Chicago and the possibility for students to be involved in urban life. It emphasized that American culture was increasingly urban-dominated.

The University of Chicago had launched an urban renewal program, the first large-scale effort of the sort in the United States. By replacing deteriorated property with new structures and refurbishing aging but attractive buildings, the project reduced white flight and produced a truly racially integrated neighborhood. Among the many real estate transactions, the university could easily help the Lutherans locate a desirable site.

At first it looked as though the seminary would he located at the crossroads of the Hyde Park neighborhood at Woodlawn Avenue and 55th Street. The new building of Augustana Lutheran Church would be straight across 55th Street. One property owner refused to sell, however, and some of the neighbors objected to giving up their local pub. Further opposition reacted against institutional expansion, which would dislocate university students and other residents from their apartments. When they began demonstrations in protest, the Chicago Tribune editorialized that the Lutherans might be experiencing "more of urban involvement than they bargained for."

The university helped resolve the issue by securing land for the main seminary building one block west on the north side of 55th Street. Yet LSTC spent much staff time finding alternate housing for present residents. Student housing would be provided in the half of the original site north of 54th Place, whereas 54th Place was closed north of the construction area to allow for a parking lot. Immediately north of 55th Street the city acquired a strip of land to convert to a park, which would provide pleasant frontage for the seminary. Across 55th Street the university was to build a new dormitory and one block south, a large new main library.

With such ideal real estate available, other assets of the university looked even more attractive. Great resources representing every field of scholarship were capped by the Divinity School with 110 Ph.D. students, 45 of them Lutheran. Specializations were available for chaplaincies, missions, social work and research. It was an atmosphere of mental excitement.

After two and a half years of considering location, the Inter-Seminary Committee reached its decision in 1961 to favor the neighborhood of the University of Chicago. Another two years were required before the several church entities were ready to grant approval.


The merger documents provided for a temporary Board of Directors for LSTC to be elected by the boards of the four merging seminaries. After the church merger was completed in 1962, the board was elected by the synods assigned responsibility for the new seminary. At the first meeting of the temporary board on March 15, 1962, they elected as its chairman the Rev. Harold C. Skillrud. He continued to chair the board elected by the synods. A graduate of Augustana seminary, he was serving a burgeoning congregation of the Augustana church in Bloomington, Illinois. He had led the congregation through relocation, fund appeals and building programs, experience of some value to seminaries, which were launching a similar sequence.

The first meeting also appointed a nominating committee to seek a president for the new seminary. Thought turned first to incumbents. Since the President in Maywood would be retiring before the new school could begin classes, the faculty there wanted their Dean, Dr. Donald Heiges, to be chosen. Before the Committee on Nomination had begun its selection process, however, he accepted the position as Dean at Gettysburg Seminary. This left Dr. Karl E. Mattson at Augustana seminary; but considerable debate led to the conclusion that a new school demanded new leadership.

Among several possible candidates who were approached to consider the LSTC presidency, the Rev. Dr. Stewart W. Herman was elected. At the time, he was serving as Executive Secretary of Lutheran World Federation Affairs in the National Lutheran Council. Earlier he had served as pastor of the American Church in Berlin. As war approached, he was called to Geneva to assist in refugee and relief work. He worked under international Lutheran auspices and for a time-shared his work with the World Council of Churches. Later be became director of the Latin America Committee of the Lutheran World Federation. His international acquaintance and his experience in administration appealed to the Committee on Nomination, which registered a unanimous vote to recommend him as the first president of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. The Board of Directors elected him in April 1963; be began work January 1964; and he was inaugurated at a festive worship service in the university's Rockefeller Chapel in May. The preacher was Dr. Franklin Clark Fry, president of the new Lutheran Church in America. In his inaugural address, Dr. Herman said, "Chicago is one of the most vigorous and invigorating metropolitan areas of the world, and the University which bears its name is renowned as a dazzling international exchange of the most precious of all commodities, human knowledge.... We trust that our school in its turn will give to this civic and academic environment as much as it gains from them - or more. This we must do if we understand our task to be the proclamation of the Gospel."

Dr. Weng and Dr. Mattson were appointed administrative vice presidents to oversee the seminary program on their respective campuses. Dr. Herman concentrated on developments of the new school. He had the help of Mr. Franklin K. Zimmerman who began as business manager in 1964 and two years later became assistant to the president responsible for finance, development, property management, public relations and publicity. Dr. Herman said of him, “No man has made a greater practical contribution to the realization of the Lutheran School of Theology.... His job is to strengthen the physical and financial framework within which young men and women may receive the best possible training for Christian service."

Building and Finance

Enough progress had been made in organizing the new school by 1963 to give detailed attention to "the physical and financial framework." Costs for land, apartment buildings and their renovation for student housing, demolition, architectural fees and new construction, landscaping, moving and new equipment would eventually add up to a total of over $8.5 million, and the school would begin with a long-term debt of $2 million. Sales of campuses and other assets from the four seminaries netted over $1.7 million dollars. The Board of World Mission of the LCA submitted $261,000 for housing the School of Missions. Later, when Central Seminary joined LSTC it brought assets of over $267,000. The new Lutheran Church in America and its synods had begun functioning fully on January 1, 1963. In March the LSTC board recommended to its supporting synods an appeal for $3.2 million.

It was an exciting time as parishes learned more about the new school and responded generously. The four supporting synods eventually contributed almost $3.9 million dollars. Architects for the new building were chosen at the beginning of 1964. One and a half years later their proposals had gone through innumerable reviews in various forums including faculty, synodical leaders and the seminary board. In the style of Mies van der Rohe, the outer walls of the three-story building would be expanses of glass between dark metal struts. Each of its three wings rested upon four massive concrete and stone supports. The west wing would house the library; the east wing provided for the refectory on the first floor, with lounges and classrooms above; while between the two at the south end of the building, the auditorium-chapel would rise through all three floors with room for offices in the upper two. A wide opening at each corner between two wings offered impressive entrances to the building and allowed a view from the street of the pleasant grassy court surrounded by the U-shaped structure. President Herman described the building as "a boldly cantilevered building clothed in steel and tinted glass, its broad entries designed to provide access to and from the world."

The Board of Directors of LSTC approved the general design in April 1965, awarded a contract for construction in August and scheduled the groundbreaking ceremony for October. On April 4, 1966 cornerstone laying proceeded against a background of early stages in construction. President Herman placed a copper box containing a Bible into the stone. On the surface the numerals of the year dominated, but the official seal of the seminary carried a message for as long as the building would endure. Within an ellipse formed by the name of the school was an open Bible with a four-pointed star at the bottom of the fold to represent the four merging seminaries and below the star, the date of origin (1860) for the earliest of them (Augustana). Rising up the center, the symbol for Christ, expressed by the Greek letters Chi Rho, stretched to the top where a background of a city skyline completed the thought that LSTC was founded to bring the Gospel to the world. Addressing the 500 in attendance at the ceremony, Dr. Conrad Bergendoff, former President of Augustana College and Theological Seminary, noted, "It has required sacrifice and a clear sense of purpose to move from the original sites to this one, from familiar and cherished campuses into the heart of this strange and changing metropolis. And to do door to...the University of Chicago means that the church believes its message is not secondary to the pronouncements of the leaders of thought and action of our generation."

The building was not quite finished when classes met there for the first time in the fall of 1967. Yet the dedication service that October celebrated fulfillment of a decade of planning and preparation.

LCA Master Plan

After the Joint Commission on Lutheran Union had decided not to decide the number and location of seminaries, it assigned responsibility for a Master Plan of The Theological Education to the Board of Theological Education, which would be an organizational unit in the new Lutheran Church in America. When that Board came together for the first time in 1963, Dr. Jerald Brauer, Dean of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago was elected chairman and Dr. Conrad Bergendoff became Executive Secretary. The Master Plan for Theological Education provided a high point in discussions at the first regular convention of the LCA in 1964. The desire for fewer seminaries was evident. For LSTC, however, most of what was recommended had been accomplished in the union of the four seminaries. True, Northwestern seminary in Minneapolis was urged to unite with LSTC or with the ALC seminary in St. Paul, and Hamma Divinity School in Springfield Ohio received similar instructions, the ALC seminary being in Columbus, Ohio. Since both of these schools had earlier been invited to participate in the merger discussions that produced LSTC, and nothing had come from that venture, little could be expected at this later date. The one remaining possibility concerned Central Lutheran Theological Seminary in Fremont, Nebraska.

Central had begun in 1893 as Western Seminary, associated with Midland College in Atchison, Kansas. It represented the mission outreach to settlers in the West by the General Synod, considered the more liberal of the antecedents to the ULCA, as the General Council with its mission seminary in Chicago was considered the more conservative. Such distinctions had atrophied, however, by the time the ULCA was formed in 1918. The seminary followed Midland College to Fremont, Nebraska, in 1919, but became a separate corporate institution with the name Central in 1949. At various points in its history, Central explored merger at Chicago, including the late 50s when the Inter-Seminary Committee issued an invitation. Nothing developed until after the formation of the LCA.

Upon the recommendation of the Board of Theological Education, the 1964 Convention of the LCA instructed the board to bring recommendations concerning Central to the 1966 Convention of the Church. The Board's analysis noted that Central's enrollment was too small to maintain a faculty with sufficient specializations to meet LCA standards and its per-student costs were among the highest. Although Central's five supporting synods conducted a survey to show the value of a regional seminary in their vast territory, and Central's board suggested several options, the view prevailed that Chicago, as a transportation and communication center which served the region's economy in several ways, would qualify best for its theological education. In April 1965 representatives from Central and LSTC met in Chicago with Dr. E. Theodore Bachmann, now executive secretary of the Board of Theological Education. Later that year, the Board made its decision-favoring merger of the two schools. Although further tense negotiation continued, a telling argument pointed out that over half of the theological students from Central's territory were enrolled at other seminaries. For the new church to set the precedent of determining the future of a seminary caused great concern for the constituencies of other theological schools, especially those from the former ULCA with its tradition of regional control. Yet the Board's recommendation for merger passed in the 1966 Convention by a four to one majority.

Although Central's President, Dr. Gerhard Gieschen, had reached retirement, three of the faculty chose to accept calls to other seminaries, while three joined the faculty at LSTC. Detailed proposals had been worked out to transfer the assets and assure arrangements suitable to the students. At Central's final commencement, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Rev. Russell Olson remarked, "June 1967 is not the end of Central Lutheran Theological Seminary. It is rather the end of a glorious chapter of excellent service and it is the beginning of a service with greater dimensions, a more significant ministry and a more glorious life in the service of our Lord. Next year the report will be the first chapter of a larger life for Central in the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago."

The LCA Master Plan for Theological Education had crystallized in what came to life in Chicago. In the fall of 1967 LSTC began classes on the new campus, an heir to five traditions with rich experience in theological education.

Academic Program

After the arrival of the president at the beginning of 1964, the LSTC Board of Directors authorized the search for a dean, and in April elected the Rev. L. Dale Lund, Ph.D., President of Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. He assumed his duties in July 1965. At his inaugural he spoke about the motivation "to move theological education out of isolation and into the light and criticism of university life."

In January 1966, Dr. Arthur O. Arnold, who had served as administrator of the Rock Island campus since the death of Dr. Mattson, was elected dean of students. Dr. Theodore Conrad and the Rev. Joel Lundeen, also from the Rock Island campus, were named director of admissions and registrar and director of the library, respectively. Dr. Robert I. Tobias, who had been serving at Augustana as a visiting professor, after years of overseas relief work and teaching at the Christian seminary in Indianapolis, became director of continuing education.

Several programs from Maywood seminary were continued under existing leadership. Dr. Johannes Knudsen served as dean of the Graduate School, which had candidates enrolled for M.A., S.T.M. and S.T.D. degrees. The School of Missions, which had begun under the auspices of the ULCA Board of Foreign Missions in 1957 and had trained many missionaries for overseas service, continued under its dean, Dr. James A. Scherer, who had come to that post after missionary assignments in China and Japan.

The main outline of the academic program had been envisioned in preparation of the constitution for the new school in 1960: B.D. (now M. Div. program), graduate school, school of missions, and continuing education.

Chicago seminary had offered graduate studies from the start. Like the University of Chicago, which began at the same time, an Extra Mural Department provided mostly correspondence courses. Discontinuing this work in 1942, the seminary held summer sessions of three weeks duration, often taught by visiting professors in addition to the resident faculty. So popular did the program become that other seminaries copied it. This is the program that LSTC continued and added a requirement of a full year in residence for the doctoral degree. The new location carried promise of fulfilling the dream for a top-level Lutheran graduate school in theology.

The School of Missions during its ten years in Maywood had trained 258 missionaries. In 1962, the new Board of World Missions of the LCA had continued funding for the school and requested that it be included in the plans for LSTC. The move to Hyde Park would make available cultural and language studies at the university.

Continuing Education had been a part of the Maywood summer sessions and occasional evening classes. Both in-service training for pastors and courses for the laity, both men and women, were envisioned for LSTC.

Inter-faculty discussion of the B.D. curriculum had begun in 1959 and continued at various meetings and retreats until definitive work developed under the leadership of Dean Lund in a committee of faculty, students and board members during 1965-1966. The committee aimed for a curriculum theologically Christocentric, attractive to "a steady supply of candidates for the ordained ministry" in a "serving church”, and helpful in "understanding the gospel, world and church as they interrelate." Of the requirements for graduation, two-thirds of the course hours over a three-year period were required and one-third elective. Required courses were equally divided between the three fields: Biblical, Historical, Systematic and functional Ministry. In addition, an internship year was required, as had been the case at Augustana since 1934, a pattern which would be adopted for all LCA seminaries. A cooperative arrangement between LSTC and the University of Chicago made it clear that the two educational institutions remained separate entities. Yet students at both schools could use the library and enroll in courses of the other at a proper fee. University athletic and health facilities were also available. Faculty members would have library privileges.

Additional developments included contacts with overseas seminaries where Dr. Herman was well acquainted. He led in establishing special relationships as early as 1965 in Tanzania and Argentina particularly. LSTC scholarships were made for post-graduate work or to complete a B.D. degree, and exchanges of faculty and students introduced programs that grew with experience.

The President also initiated convocations featuring noted specialists such as the Representative to the United Nations from the United Kingdom, the NBC White House Correspondent and the Director of Urban Work in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. These events served the entire Chicago area as well as the LSTC community. In connection with the 450TH Anniversary of the Reformation in 1967, a conference co-sponsored with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops attracted 300 priests and pastors.

When school opened in the fall of 1967, the faculty roster listed 30 professors and three part-time instructors. The professors included nine from Rock Island; 12 from Maywood, ULCA; one from Maywood, Suomi; two from Maywood, Grand View; three from Central; one shared between Rock Is­land and Maywood and two new professors. The LCA merger was nowhere more complete than in the LSTC faculty.

The student enrollment for the B.D. degree stood at 242 when LSTC began on a single campus. This was lower than the number at the three campuses five years earlier, not only because seminary enrollments were dropping nationwide, but because some students from former Augustana congrega­tions were attending the seminary in their region, an oppor­tunity not available to them prior to the formation of the LCA. Among the first year entering class in 1967, 45% came from outside the territory of the supporting synods, perhaps suggesting the attraction of the university-urban location.
Students became involved in the urban setting quite readily. When the Museum of Science and Industry, a few blocks from the seminary, opened an exhibit where children could enter a helicopter equipped with a machine gun and aim the gun's ray at a Vietnam village, students demonstrated and petitioned until the exhibit was closed. After Martin Luther King's assassination and the riots, which followed, LSTC students joined students from sixteen other Chicagoland seminaries in emergency service to the affected neighborhoods.

LSTC was just beginning to realize the potential for ecumenical cooperation in a metropolitan area with seminaries of every major denomination and more theological students than any city in the world except Rome. The Catholic Theological Union was bringing together over 25 seminaries and moving to Hyde Park at the same time as LSTC.


LSTC had been developed by the merging seminaries and had been given by the merging church a distinctive and distinguished place among theological schools of the LCA. It alone represented all of the merging traditions. It started with almost twice as many students as any other seminary of the church and its full-time faculty exceeded any other in size. It had the most varied and fully developed program. Its constituency of nine supporting synods was the largest for any seminary and stretched from the eastern tip of Kentucky in the Alleghenies to the Rocky Mountain Synod in the West and from the Canadian border of the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan Synod to the Mexican border of the Texas-Louisiana Synod. These dimensions spelled great opportunities and responsibilities for service.

At the dedication ceremony on October 22, 1967, 2000 people jammed Rockefeller Chapel while hundreds stood outside. The carillon rang out Bach tunes for 45 minutes before the service, and again after the service as the procession moved out of the Chapel to the new seminary building for the brief rite of dedication.

In the sermon on that occasion, Dr. Franklin Clark Fry had described LSTC as "a living parable of that...diversity of origins and identities coming together in an emerging single heritage…There is not the slightest suggestion of recoil or withdrawal." Earlier he had written of the seminary as "deserving recognition among the top-ranking theological schools on this continent - in size...caliber and variety of teaching, scholarly production - leaving behind all rivalry and pride of history, in a spirit of dedication to that radiant future that we believe God is ready to bestow on the church of our children and grandchildren.”


Page last modified Mar 24, 2016