I invite you to become part of this fascinating community. If you're ever in Chicago, please come by for a visit. We'd be delighted to welcome you. In the meantime, may God bless your discernment of the signs for what you should do next."
- President James Nieman.
Greetings from the President
Since you're reading this message, you're probably considering seminary in general and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in particular. It's a big step that calls for the best information available, good conversation partners (find them soon), and a measure of boldness. What you may not know is that I have also recently taken this step as I begin my first year as President of LSTC. I'd like you to know what led me here.
This isn't my first journey to seminary. Over thirty years ago, wondering if I should return to school, I wrote to a friend for advice. She was serving as an English teacher at a Lutheran school in Japan, having left everything behind in an enormous leap of faith. I wondered how she made up her mind. Her reply was rather sheepish. "Some mornings I woke up and couldn't imagine doing anything else," she wrote, "Other mornings it seemed like the dumbest thought I ever had. The mornings it was a great idea outnumbered the ones it seemed ridiculous, so I went." Of course, her decision wasn't mere arithmetic. It was her humble way of saying that she paid attention to what she learned and felt, the signs for discerning what to do.
I have often thought about my friend's reply, especially in recent months. What did I learn and feel about LSTC? What were my signs for discerning what to do? In fact, I encountered four signs at LSTC that made a powerful impression on me.
First were the students. They were vibrant, enthusiastic, and smart, eager to grow in faith and learn to serve the gospel in new ways. Remarkably diverse, they came from many vocations and locations, with interests and passions in dizzying array. They were also wildly funny.
Next was the faculty. As an experienced scholar, I know a healthy, hard-working faculty when I see it. The LSTC faculty is all of that. They are accomplished in what they study, recognized for academic excellence. What's more, they teach those insights with rigor and enthusiasm.
Then came the staff. I was amazed by their commitment to LSTC, performing tasks that so often go unseen. Their talents are as widespread as their years of service are deep. A seminary is far more than the classroom alone. We have such fine people to keep our school in motion.
Finally were the boards. You may rarely have contact with them, but let me tell you that we are blessed by their support. In challenging days for theological education, these servants diligently strive for the future of our school. They are guardians of our shared mission.
When I was considering LSTC, these four signs made all the difference, markers of God's ways in our midst. I invite you to become part of this fascinating community. If you're ever in Chicago, please come by for a visit. We'd be delighted to welcome you. In the meantime, may God bless your discernment of the signs for what you should do next.