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Packed House for Annual Symposia Week at CTSFW
FORT WAYNE, IN, January 24, 2024—Hundreds of guests gathered on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), January 15–19 for two special events—the dedication of two endowed faculty chairs and the annual Symposia Series.
The celebration of the faculty chairs was held Monday, January 15, the day before the four-day Symposia. The new chairs—The Reverend Victor H. and Lydia Dissen Chair in the Lutheran Confessions, held by Dr. Naomichi Masaki, and The Roemer-Baese Chair in Pastoral Ministry and Missions, held by Dr. K. Detlev Schulz—were dedicated during the morning chapel service.
“Giving thanks for the faithful service of Walter C. Dissen, who faithfully served a total of thirty years on the boards of regents of both this seminary and our sister seminary in St. Louis, it is fitting that we bless and sanctify these professorial chairs established by his generous gifts, to aid in a bold confession of the saving faith revealed to us in God’s holy Word,” said CTSFW President Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr., who presided over the dedication.
Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr., Dr. K. Detlev Schulz, Dr. Naomichi Masaki, and Dr. Charles Gieschen after the dedication of new endowed faculty chairs now held by Schulz and Masaki.
The faculty chairs were established by the late Dr. Dissen (1931–2023) in honor of his parents, the Rev. Victor H. and Lydia (Baese) Dissen; his grandparents, the Rev. Ernst Baese and Emma (Roemer) Baese; and his great-grandparents, Johann Carl David Roemer and Maria (Kalbfleisch) Roemer. In establishing the chairs, Dissen aimed “to ensure that the rich historic, biblical, and confessional heritage of the Evangelical Lutheran Church be taught in the classrooms of the Seminary and shared throughout the world.”
In honor of Dissen, the Seminary named a new conference room in Loehe Hall the Walter C. Dissen Conference Room, which was dedicated in a short service following the dedication of the endowed chairs. The gathered group included guests on campus for the annual conference of the Lutheran Concerns Association, an organization Dissen helped establish.
President Rast and Mark Stern, secretary of the Board of Regents of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, stand outside the newly dedicated Walter C. Dissen Conference Room at CTSFW.
In the evening, guests attended a dinner honoring Dissen and celebrating the chairs, after which the new chairholders presented inaugural lectures.
Dr. Masaki, the Reverend Victor H. and Lydia Dissen Professor of the Lutheran Confessions, presented “Rejoicing in the Vibrant Confessional Heritage: CTSFW Breathing the Air of the Book of Concord.” Masaki also serves as Director of the PhD in Theological Studies program, Director of the Master of Sacred Theology program, and Director of the Lutheran Leadership Development program for the International Lutheran Council (ILC).
In his lecture, Masaki noted that although he holds the new chair in the Lutheran Confessions, “the chair is about the seminary.” The gift of the endowed chair, he said, “is an enormous testimony to the world that here we continue to breathe the air of the Book of Concord and keep on studying, confessing, and teaching the vibrant confessional heritage we have received.”
Dr. Schulz, the Roemer-Baese Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, followed Masaki with his presentation, “Missiology: A Theologia Viatorum in Search of a Home.” Schulz is Dean of Graduate Studies, Director of the PhD in Missiology program, and Dean of International Studies at CTSFW. He also serves as General Secretary of the ILC.
Symposia highlights: “We must hold fast”
After an event-filled Monday of Symposia Week, CTSFW kicked off its annual Symposia Series, welcoming over 400 guests from the US and around the world. The Symposium on Exegetical Theology focused on “Courage and Encouragement: Exhortation from the Prophets and Apostles,” while the Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions examined “Seminex at the Half-Century,” with papers addressing issues surrounding the 1974 student/faculty walkout at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and the formation of Concordia Seminary in Exile, informally known as Seminex.
CTSFW President Lawrence Rast Jr. opened the Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions in a packed Sihler Auditorium with his presentation, “Seminex at 50: Lessons to Be Learned and Still to Be Learned.” Among the lessons learned in the fifty years since the walkout: We still don’t understand why things changed so quickly in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
After demonstrating how quickly things did change in the Synod prior to the walkout, Rast, who is writing a book on Seminex, emphasized a key takeaway, noting, “We must hold fast. Always. We must be faithful at every point. It’s easy to forget. And we cannot allow ourselves to fall into that.”
Symposia attendee Dr. Ken Schurb, evangelism executive in the LCMS Central Illinois District and editor of Rediscovering the Issues Surrounding the 1974 Concordia Seminary Walkout (CPH, 2023), appreciated having the opportunity to revisit this period of our Synod’s history.
“Anniversaries spur not only memory, but also closer inspection,” said Schurb. “Presentations on Seminex at the 2024 Symposium invited us to deeper analysis of various issues involved. Who knows? They may also end up interesting a whole new generation of scholars in these still-important matters.”
The Symposia presentations were recorded and will be available on video.ctsfw.edu around Easter.
The next Symposia Series will be held January 21–24, 2025.
About Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne
Founded in 1846, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, forms servants of Jesus Christ in a vibrant, Christ-centered theological community that engages and resources the church and the world, domestically and internationally, with distinctively Lutheran teaching, practice, and worship. To learn more, visit ctsfw.edu.