Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

LSTC >> About LSTC >> History >> 50th Anniversary >> Wesley Fuerst: An Account


Many Voices, One Story


About the author:

Wesley  Fuerst

The Rev. Dr. Wesley J. Fuerst was professor of Old Testament at Central Seminary and LSTC.

He served as dean of faculty beginning in 1968 and helped shape the curriculum in the early years of the school. He wrote this brief history of LSTC in 1985, when the school observed the 125th anniversary of its oldest predecessor school, Augustana Theological Seminary.

Dr. Fuerst died in 2007.


Download this account as a PDF.

LSTC: Giving an Account

by Wesley Fuerst

This is a story of an institution, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Telling it means giving an account in some way of what hundreds and thousands of people have done with their lives and resources over the last two decades, and describing what they have accomplished. No one story is capable of making this an adequate account, for the number of stories that could be told matches the number of us who celebrate the seminary on this occasion. Many of you will be rehearsing your own story of the seminary while this one is being told; there will be variants, even contrasts, as well as convergences, for our individual perceptions surely differ at many points. Nevertheless I trust that the convergences will dominate, and that we may recognize a common story in this telling, for we now share a common history and have created a strand of interlocking traditions that are bound up into what is LSTC, a seminary that has taken hold of us and bonds us all together.

Now is the right time for this telling, a remarkably propitious time in fact. We are celebrating a major anniversary of the institution, with remembrances of the past, after years in which the new single tradition has grown and matured, and at the point when we have been recently joined by another rich tradition and as we are poised to enter an entirely new phase of our existence within the "New Lutheran Church." The question is, what does LSTC bring into that new church, what gifts, what experiences, what contributions and impulses will it be offering in the next years?

I. Launching a Vision

LSTC came into being over the course of many decisions, made especially in 1961 and 1962, and this process of launching a vision of a "new seminary" was consummated in the fall of 1967 with the opening of the school year in this Hyde Park location, and at the dedication of our new building on October 22 of that year. It had been a process with its own substantial history, tracing back to conversations and discussions in the 1940s, and it intensified in the latter 1950s with decisions in Hancock and Des Moines to move to Chicago. The burden of concretely envisioning and planning fell to those who led the process in the decade of 1958-1968, and they have earned a place of special honor among us. The labor and dedication of Karl Mattson and Armin Weng, working years to bring about LSTC, and the support and encouragement of Conrad Bergendoff and Theodore Bachmann, executives of the Board of Theological Education of the Lutheran Church in America during the vital period of the seminary's inception, especially deserve our gratitude today.

The essential goal of this new seminary was expressed in words from its first president, Stewart W. Herman, in his 1968 Annual Report: "...its sole purpose is the better preparation of men and women for many forms of Christian service, chiefly the parish ministry. Future generations may regard it as extraordinarily providential--in view of the present trend of national and international events--that this school was readied for such purpose at this particular time." These trenchant phrases embraced a broader definition which had been forming during the years of dreaming and planning and which was widely accepted.

Several primary elements were fixed within the LSTC vision. The seminary was clear about its commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of grace and of liberation through God's Son, and its way of comprehending and transmitting that Gospel rested on a heritage that was firmly developed. Evangelical freedom and diversity would mark this school, and passion for truth and ardor for theological integrity would characterize its manner. In its service to the Gospel it would reflect the best of the common tradition which had been nurtured for decades in the predecessor seminaries, a tradition founded on the Word of God, growing out of the Scriptures, faithful to the creeds and the Lutheran confessions, wary of legalism, and dedicated to engaging the world and faithfully living in it in a posture of dialogue and critical reflection. LSTC's identity was planted in commitments to serve the whole church, wherever the church might be, and to carry out that service by offering an excellent theological education in continuity with its own history. There was a companion element in that identity; the seminary was intended to be a theological center for the church, where traditions could be researched and developed, and their meaning for faith and the contemporary mission of church explored.

The site of the seminary was chosen with three special ideas in mind: a university setting, an urban situation, and an ecumenical position. It seemed clear that all three were necessary in order for the seminary to achieve its goal of better preparing men and women for ministry and for serving the church as a theological center, doing theological work for the church and on its behalf. "Religion and theology must not be isolated from the rest of human knowledge and experience, but must inform and be informed by it, and education must be the handmaiden of this cross fertilization," wrote G. Everett Arden as he rehearsed educational ideals in the Augustana tradition going back to Augustana's own founders. Within the city, near a fine university, would be the best environment for this seminary. As the Report of the Advisory Committee for site selection put it, "a faith that could be defended only by isolating it from the currents of modern thought is hardly likely to seem relevant to the needs of our time." LSTC was planted in a university environment in the midst of the city so that it could not escape either contemplating or experiencing the social, political, cultural and scientific developments in the modern world.

The adventuresomeness of LSTC's style, its willingness to take risks, and its openness to change are surely a legacy in part from our recent past and the days of preparation for the formation of the new institution. LSTC has grown to maturity through a new beginning and through change; its history shows no fear of fresh starts, new ideas and stimulating challenges. From the willingness of seminaries with established and cherished histories in Rock Island, Des Moines, Hancock, and Fremont to submit themselves to the bracing experience of a long physical move, through the bold choice of a site in the center of a great city and alongside a leading university with an unrelenting intellectual life, to the erection of a radically designed new building, LSTC was given a rich and lively heritage that conditioned it to thrive on change and challenge. The mood as LSTC came into being on 55th Street on Chicago's South Side was aggressive and eager, ready for risk and for complete commitment. There is historical consistency in the fact that just as LSTC, more than any other seminary in the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), reflected the diversity in that denomination's composition, so it has enjoyed the invigorating surge that came about with the arrival of the large body of Seminex faculty and administration. It must surely seem inevitable that Christ Seminary--Seminex chose to invest so much of itself and its future in Chicago; LSTC's longer-range history and Seminex's shorter recent span share so many of the same values, viewpoints, and attitudes. The adventure undertaken by five seminaries here in 1967 was, as it were, the natural thing for Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) Lutherans to join; it matched so much of the AELC's own experience and commitment.

A major force in the establishment of LSTC as well as in its identity was the School of Missions, which was founded in 1957 in Maywood with James Scherer as Dean. The School served first the United Lutheran Church and then the LCA in preparing missionaries from several denominations for service around the world, and also provided a base for the task of theological and methodological reflection on mission. As times and expectations changed within the church, the School closed in 1969; but its work continued to wield a powerful influence upon us, through the presence of faculty who were associated with world missions by profession and experience, and through the established contacts both institutional and individual which reminded us of our commitment to global mission. It is hardly an accident that mission is now the dominating and organizing motif for the curriculum which has just been adopted by the seminary for its Master of Divinity program; mission, in global, social, and evangelical terms, has fueled this school's sense of purpose from its beginning.

From first to last, the critical element in the story of launching the LSTC vision is the role played by the church in this seminary. The vision of LSTC was created by the church and its leadership, along with seminary faculties and administrations, and it was the church conventions and the committee studies and decisions that paved the way for LSTC's establishment. The church at large, the LCA, committed itself to this vision, and a separate story could be told of the time, energy, and resources which through the Division for Professional Leadership and the Board of Theological Education, the predecessor church-wide agency, it invested in this place at the beginning and in the years since. The adventuresomeness found here is a trait belonging also in our church, and the goals and style of the seminary reflect something of the churches from which it grew.

II. Shaping the Forces

After the establishment of LSTC in Hyde Park, a complex and formidable task, there remained the longer, equally trying challenge of shaping the forces that constituted the new seminary and of addressing those forces that affected it from without. A fundamental human lesson that the years have been teaching us is that there is no such thing as an instant institution. We or those around us may be forgiven for, on occasion and especially in the early years, having been impatient with this simple fact. The coming of age could occur only over time, and at the price of much effort, some misunderstandings, and the hard work required in order to grow together at an accelerated pace and to find and claim one's own identity by combining old forces in a new configuration. Common tradition would not be produced instantly. Perhaps the most important  feature of the effort, and its most lasting benefit, was that the seminary had to come to terms with the fact of pluralism in a new way, accepting it rather than seeking to obliterate it, keeping alive old and different traditions and meanwhile creating a new one with its own self-conscious and intentional diversities. This feature will draw more comment later on. LSTC's history can be viewed with more perspective when it is perceived as a pattern of challenges and responses. Furthermore, this history cannot be adequately comprehended without realizing that the challenges were to a considerable extent raised by the seminary itself. That is to say, our history here, with all its vicissitudes and complications, has indeed included those circumstances which befell us, without our choosing and which we could not avoid, but it also includes those challenges which we planned, or chose, or produced intentionally. This history is most assuredly our very own.

The environment, and external relations, lay at the heart of the move to Hyde Park; the city and the university attracted LSTC here. With regard to the city, one may say that the seminary got all that it bargained for: an intellectually lively and socially complex community, a marvelously rich background of cultural event and opportunity in the university's shadow, and participation in the life of the city. Students from the plains of Kansas and the towns of Wisconsin learn something more here about our society and our church today, and can prepare for their mission in that society with a wider compass of resources and experiences. Faculty and students work and learn in a complex and shifting cultural setting, developing appreciation and skills for communicating and cooperating cross-culturally. For better and for worse the city affects every part of our lives.

In 1967 it was commonly expected that much was to be immediately gained from proximity to the university. A good deal of that expectation was of course immediately achieved through the physical move. In other respects it has taken longer to work out relationships with the University of Chicago, a fact that in retrospect does not seem so surprising. In the first place, L5TC's move was not originally conceived as a quest for a nurturing or sheltering environment but rather as the seminary's entry into an arena of stimulation and perhaps even confrontation. Telling our story at this point calls for a sense of history, and an appreciation for what has been possible. Library cooperation, a program which combines work for the M.Div. degree from LSTC and the Ph.D. degree from the University, recreation and health facilities that can be used by seminary people, are examples of specific benefits which we are privileged to enjoy in this place.
Programmatically speaking, the most important consequence of LSTC’s move was in the area of ecumenical and inter-seminary relations. The Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) was organized in 1968 and included 16 member seminaries from the Chicago area. It was followed soon by the Chicago Cluster of Theological Schools (CCTS) in 1970. LSTC played a prominent role in both bodies, in inception as well as program. Activities of the Cluster have marked for many of us a highlight of our academic life. Inter-faculty friendships were formed, courses were planned and taught jointly, and departmental course offerings worked out co-operatively. In recent years the Cluster underwent changes, and today there is a new Association of Chicago Theological Schools, serving Chicago seminaries in providing a structure for cooperation. Within that structure the "Committee on Academic Cooperation," in which the 5 Hyde Park seminaries (including LSTC) cooperate in special ways, is responsible for working on all questions of maintaining current cooperation and developing new forms, one of which is the continuation of the Hyde Park Ecumenical Project, a theological forum which itself is a legacy from the Jesuit pre6ehee here, and in which 35-40 faculty members, including Divinity School colleagues, regularly participate.

The Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago (JSTC), a member of the Chicago Cluster, moved to the LSTC campus in 1970, joining its library with ours, and sharing classrooms and other facilities. McCormick Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) moved to Hyde Park in 1975, joining the Cluster then, and the three combined libraries became one of the country's major theological collections. Although JSTC closed in 1979, to our deep regret, a large share of its library collection remains as part of the Jesuit-Krauss-McCormick (JKM) library, an institution of great riches and resources. Within the JKM library is housed the Gruber collection of manuscripts and early Luther materials, a veritable treasure from LSTC's past. The library contains substantial collections of material in Swedish, Danish, Finnish, and in American Lutheranism as a further testimony to our traditions. The personal library of Bishop Anders Nygren is a library acquisition of which we are most proud, and for which we are most grateful. The archives of the LCA as well as of the seminary are also included within the library complex, and constitute an exciting fund of information and research material.

A special word belongs to the library, beyond that already mentioned. In 1974 the LSTC collection was named the "Krauss Library," in honor of Dr. Paul Krauss of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who had figured so prominently in the history of the Maywood seminary and in impulses toward what became LSTC, and in whose name LSTC was given a handsome gift for the library.
At the seminary's heart is its faculty, and through the years it is the most obvious force in the work of the institution. Of the thirty faculty members from 1967-1968, twelve remain on the active roster today. That may not be a surprising statistic, but it is a telling one. What seems to be the same to old grads of the seminary may in part be faculty, but only in part; more experience of continuity may in fact he attributed to the tradition, to memory, and to values and priorities which have held up over the years. The first challenge in faculty development after 1967 was that of growing together; we were people on one team who could not look back upon one common process of formation, as is expected to be the case with faculties. We in fact came from three campuses, and from five traditions (today those numbers are four and six). From the beginning a remarkable spirit of unity prevailed. Our lack of common experience together only made it of greater priority that we set out to build that common heritage. Through retreats and workshops, and years of intensively working together, this faculty has become one, one in spirit and one in history. Our individual strengths and weaknesses are shared, and accepted; there is mutual respect, and indeed fondness for one another. The second challenge came in the form, as one might expect, of invitations and opportunities for many of us to leave Chicago. That twelve from 1967 are still here is a testimony to our own confidence in this seminary and a sign of our own commitment to its cause.

The style of this faculty is open and aggressive, counting on collegial support and good will, and also on honesty. The commitment to productive scholarship, achieved outstandingly by some of our number, and to high quality in teaching, is maintained as the goal for all of us. A careful process of review and consultation carried out by the president and dean, and with collegial input and support, more thorough and consistent than before and perhaps than almost anywhere else, to take place with each faculty member periodically, has begun
just this past year. This is a sign of our seriousness in these matters, and a token of our intention to continue to strive for excellence.

From 1967 onward the faculty underwent a continua] decline in number for a decade. There were two causes, in addition to the normal retirements and customary attrition rates: the diminishing size of the student body after around 1969, brought on by the fact that enrollment expectations projected from the predecessor campuses failed to hold up after the first couple of years, and a financial crisis that threatened the survival of the seminary. At the same time it was becoming increasingly apparent that in order to accomplish its intended mission LSTC would need to address the fact that on its faculty there were no members of racial minorities and no women. The seminary applied itself to the task, in such a way that among the current number of 29 faculty members there are included three women and two minority persons.

The faculty event of most dramatic impact since 1967 occurred in 1983 when Christ Seminary--Seminex in agreement with LSTC chose to deploy ten of its faculty and locate its administration in Chicago. The history of this action goes back to 1974 when LSTC offered its assistance after the Concordia Theological Seminary faculty in St. Louis went into exile. The Seminex degrees from 1974 and 1975 were conferred by LSTC, and we two seminaries forged a bond that was not to be broken. Beginning with that occasion the histories of Seminex and of LSTC have become one, and we are now part of each other's past. The warmth and ease of the transition, and the depth of eager good will felt from both sides, attest to the rightness of this decision.

Giving an account for the students at LSTC can he done only generally by a member of the faculty, and each of you students and alumni has your own story to tell. Students, the prime reason for the existence of the seminary, are also one of its most fluctuating and variable features. In the first place one observes that student generations differ to a considerable degree and that each has a kind of unique personality, as is true in every school. Differences range from types of social concern, attitudes toward self and society, and relationships to the church, to expectations of ministry and service. Each generation passing through this seminary leaves its mark upon us and upon our history, in memories of course, but more important in affecting events, people, and ideas or positions at this place. Secondly, and more dramatically, the student body has changed over the years from a group of fresh-from-college young white males to a congregation of people who reflect the movement in our society and in the church. Some 35-40% of the student body today are women; many of the students are second-career persons, older and with a wide range of experience. LSTC's intention in recruiting new students is to seek a larger number of minority candidates for ministry.

In 1967 students came to LSTC from three very different campuses, in addition to those who arrived directly from college or university. You here today who went through that time may recall more vividly than the effort required to try to put together into some semblance of working relationship students with advanced forms of traditions, histories, styles and personal friendships. To complicate matters, that was precisely the time of the greatest national turmoil and social unrest in recent memory in this country: Vietnam, the civil rights movement, assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the Democratic convention and Kent State. Students endured great agitation outside the seminary and encountered it within themselves. Relationships with the church and clarity of understanding about call to the ministry in some cases seemed chaotic back then.

The situation is notably different today. Sensitivity to issues and commitment to causes flourish among us, but they are blended with the extended experience that many have had, with a closer and healthier relationship to the church in many cases, and with a stronger and more understanding bond of common purpose and history within this seminary community among all its members. In this area as much as in any it may be said that this is a seminary coming of age, now better able to anticipate difficulties and to accept them, and to direct its own challenges to itself and to others.

Special consideration is called for at this point to what is a prominent and particularly important part of our student scene. Predecessor seminaries from time to time enjoyed the presence of foreign students, and the School of Missions was a magnet for more. But in recent years the number of students from around the world has grown, particularly in the area of graduate studies, and they constantly enrich and influence our lives and experience by embodying dimensions of mission that we must never forget.

Educational programs are a feature of seminary structure that are amenable to planning from within, and yet are also always shaped by forces round about. The M.Div./M.T.S. curriculum adopted in 1969 was a deliberate attempt to address the pedagogical and societal issues of the time, and included some radical departures from older forms of education. With time that curriculum underwent modification, being placed under continual scrutiny and review. The M.Div./M.A. curriculum adopted by the faculty in 1984, for implementation beginning in the fall of 1985, bears its own unique marks. Prepared carefully and very deliberately, with close collaboration among all sectors of the community, it is a product of our best effort and closest consensus. There is no new dominating ideology of education or of cause, and there is nothing revolutionary about it. Values have been maintained from the past, and some even recovered. But it has strengthened our work in the disciplines of Bible, field education, and church history, and all departments of the curriculum will be favorably affected by much more intensive and deliberate steps to help students to integrate and to digest the educational process. Reaffirmed, and given a prominent place, is work in cross-cultural and multi-cu1tural studies. The most important comment to make about this curriculum is that it calls for mission to serve at the center, to which then all parts of the curriculum are expected to relate. That comment requires this further explanation.

LSTC has much for which to be grateful, from the legacies of the past to that which has been accomplished since 1967. Of all these things, perhaps none is more essential to our identity and none deserving of more gratitude than the consciousness and impulse for mission. Like the nerveline through the vertebrae, mission has affected our course since the earliest days. Ecclesia plantanda, the church must be planted, was a motto in the Lutheran church's outreach toward the west, and beginning with ardent and self-sacrificing commitment on the Midwestern frontier this seminary has been the beneficiary of forebears who set high goals. In 1967 LSTC had compacted formal relations with seminaries in Argentina. Japan. and Tanzania, and the global consciousness emanating from the School of Missions seemed to work its influence long after the School was discontinued. In the late 60s the seminary collaborated with the Chicago Center for Black Religious Studies. A special relationship was created with the Japan Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1973 which resulted in an active exchange program for faculty and for some students. Members of LSTC's community, faculty and students, have invested much in work around the world, and continue to play prominent roles in the world mission activity of the churches in this country and in the Lutheran World Federation.

The lively involvement in the field of world missions, a subject with traditionally exotic associations, is more than matched by LSTC's commitment to mission a.: hand. One cannot begin to recite what has been done and is being done; a few examples must suffice to make the point. Shortly after arrival in Hyde Park, an Institute for Metropolitan Ministries was set up. A Professor for Parish Renewal was called in 1970, an Academy for Hispanic Ministries begun the next year. Albert Pero was called to the faculty to give substance and leadership to black studies in ministry. Robert Navarro joined the faculty to direct the Hispanic Ministries Program, a mission target directly supported by church-at-large agencies of the LCA. Students, on their own initiative are engaged in many activities of Christian mission in Chicago.

With this background in mind it may be more obvious why mission became the orienting principle and the galvanizing agent for the curriculum of the basic degree programs.
The program of graduate studies at LSTC has enjoyed more growth and acquired more strength than any other program, at least relatively speaking. The seminary possesses a history of graduate work going back to Maywood, and it continued to support a modest program through the years here. Today the graduate program, directed by Philip Hefner, has in a sense come into its own, with an increased number of students, firm support from the Board of Directors and the faculty, and support and acknowledgment from the church at large along with recognition of its importance as we move toward the new church. The contribution of this program to the mission of the church around the world deserves special mention, for many of its graduates now serve churches across the globe, and many of the current students will return to assume leadership positions in their churches.

A Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program was undertaken after a year of study and preparation in 1972-73. Beginning cautiously and with tight controls under the leadership of Robert Tobias, it has flourished and now represents an important part of our educational enterprise and an influential part of our mission and service to the church. It is currently under the administration of Christ Seminary--Seminex, with Robert Conrad as Director, and all candidates beginning after fall, 1984, will receive their degrees from Seminex.

Hardly accountable under the rubric of "shaping the forces," the theological work of the seminar nevertheless calls for its own telling on this occasion. Predecessor seminaries served their church bodies as theological resources and as centers for doing theological work for the church. As LSTC was conceived it was expected to play this role in an especially vigorous and competent way. There were renowned and distinguished scholars on the faculty in 1967, and the momentum from them and from specific impulses in the planning process only accentuated this objective. LSTC was intended to be in the vanguard of theological scholarship in the church. The faculty as a whole has made its mark in productive scholarship, especially in the form of books and articles, but also in lecturing and consultation around the church and through the country, in participation and in some cases leadership in learned societies, and in more general types of theological support of the church in its mission. Tasks and assignments from the church have been gladly accepted by the faculty, including such things as studies on the ministry, on the church, on sacraments, global solidarity, Lutheran unity, and Lutheran identity in world-wide theological education. Important work is produced here, or contributed to by us, in fields such as theology, global mission, ethics and church and society, and biblical studies. Distinction reflects upon the seminary from the achievements of those at LSTC and around us in Chicago in the area of science and theology. The Institute for Syriac Manuscript Studies, representing a life's work by our renowned professor emeritus, Arthur Voobus, contains unique resources which are known and sought after the world over. Currents  in Theology and Mission, a valuable asset for leadership in our churches, is produced here, and members of this faculty have played key roles in Dialog, a well-known leading journal of Lutheran studies.

Of all the features which together constituted the shaping of forces within and around us, the most comprehensive has been the relationship between the seminary and the church. From the launching of the vision down to the contemplation of our future today, it is not possible to account for the seminary without treating the church in a most prominent place.

In 1962 LSTC found itself with a new constituency, and the constituency with a new seminary; at the time the change no doubt affected the seminary more than the constituency, although the latter was made quite aware of its new partner in mission by the fund appeal for the establishment of the new campus. After only five years a till different constituency was formed by the addition of five LCA synods to the four already with the seminary, those five entering LSTC with the merger of Central Seminary. The challenge must have seemed as great to the constituency as it did to the seminary. New ties of loyalty had to be created, new common goals decided; church and seminary needed to come to terms with each other, settle down together, and form a new and shared tradition. That this occurred can only be counted as a gift of grace, and the result of special and persistent effort by both parties, especially by seminary and synodical leadership. The role played by the Board of Directors throughout 1.STC's history may remain as that slice of history least lauded by onlookers but most appreciated by those who were most intimately involved.

The financial crisis of the early 70s compelled the church and seminary to pursue a second large fund drive; the aptly named Seminary Life Appeal began in 1972, under the seminary leadership of President Walter F. Wolbrecht and Development Director Luther Livingston, and it was the church upon which the success of that Appeal, and the survival of the seminary, depended. The Appeal did succeed, and even surpassed its goals during the presidency of Arthur Arnold. The relationship between church and seminary, once new and uncertain, was now unmistakably firm and close. The development program set up in the early 1970s has become a strong and crucial segment of the seminary structure and a vital link with the church. The development of a Scandinavian Endowment is a most hoped for objective, as a bond with the past and present and as a legacy for the future.

III. Projecting the Goals

As the goals for LSTC are presented for projection into the future, a phase of this anniversary program which belongs to the next segment, we find ourselves reflecting upon them in the account which has just been given.

The constancy that flows through this review of the last eighteen years, and the repetition of familiar themes and motifs, press us to claim that there are principles and goals in our theological and educational programming that are enduring, and solid within our tradition. This seminary has not feared to innovate, to change, or to experiment. We have enjoyed, even cultivated, a willingness to develop new ideas and set out in new directions, and never has that been more steadily and deliberately true than today. Yet, as William Lesher, LSTC's president, reminds us, we are indeed a seminary with a history; there are sub—histories to be sure, but we have carved out of our experience at 1100 East 55th Street a history of our own, and an identity that is rich and lively. There is a consistency that pulsates through our innovations and experiments, and that illuminates the theological and social features of our identity. This unified history bonds church and faculty, administration and student body into a common cause.

To some ears this may sound just a bit idealistic. My intention has not been to present a romantic facade. It is of course true that wonderful specimens of institutional warts and blemishes could be produced for your inspection in this paper. To do so is not my objective, and it would not be fair and true to LSTC. The fact is that our faculty and students do for the most part work happily together; we are led by an administration that is regarded with trust and held in affection. Alumni, people and pastors in the churches, and friends of the seminary come to this place because they enjoy it and find here something that they want. The plaques on the walls in our corridors are eloquent testimony to the dedication by which people in the church have willingly invested in LSTC and the growing number of alumni from this place increase in their support of LSTC and in their influence upon it. Our pluralistic character does not seduce us into centrifugal behavior; with all our present variety, and the variety in our past, we are held together a common mission, and by shared directions and values.

This is a seminary with problems to address in the future; some of those are predictable, some will occur unexpectedly, and some will be deliberately posed out of our own sense of purpose and mission. But it is also an institution with a strong and distinctive heritage, growing and maturing resources, and a clear sense of purpose. Our story has never been more exciting to tell than now; we have never had more to give.

May 3, 1985
Wesley J. Fuerst


Page last modified Mar 24, 2016