Congratulations to Dr. Larry Rast, president-elect of CTSFW

May 21st, 2011 Post by

I’m just seeing the announcement on the Concordia Theological Seminary web site.

We’ll update with details.

The entire slate of candidates was fantastic so we knew that whoever we got would be great. But it still must be said that Dr. Rast is a wonderful academic, administrator and all around great guy. This is fantastic news for the seminary as it prepares to lead into the future.






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  1. May 21st, 2011 at 10:51 | #1

    GREAT choice.

    TW

  2. Jim_claybourn
    May 21st, 2011 at 10:52 | #2

    And the issues,etc revolution continues

  3. May 21st, 2011 at 10:59 | #3

    :D :D :D

    God bless him as he begins his endeavor.

  4. Jason Harris
    May 21st, 2011 at 12:03 | #4

    My favorite prof. I believe that I’m currently the only STM student in Historical Theology, partly as an excuse to get in more Rast classes. Oh well. Grats Doctor.

  5. Pastor George Poulos
    May 21st, 2011 at 13:00 | #5

    Excellent choice! God’s continued blessings be his. God’s continued blessings to CTS-FW and to our LC-MS!

  6. Martin R. Noland
    May 21st, 2011 at 14:10 | #6

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Dr. Rast is a superb choice, in many ways!

    1) About the most grueling thing a seminary administrator has to endure is accreditation. Rast oversaw CTS’ recent accreditation process as Academic Dean, and they passed with flying colors and a ten year term.

    2) He was heavily involved in the design and implementation of the new curriculum several years ago. This was more difficult than it seems, because it requires cooperation from all the faculty and their agreement to “re-tool,” which means the administrative heads have to be very persuasive.

    3) He knows what it takes to appeal both to the average student and the more advanced student, at the same time. I have watched him lecture and teach – he is an excellent educator.

    4) He knows the importance of new technology. He was one of the first seminary faculty members I saw who could make good use of PowerPoint on a projected computer screen.

    5) He has an impressive Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, knows the current state of scholarship in American Christian history and American Lutheran history, and knows how to “drill through” an archive to find what he needs.

    6) He was one of the last students to have had Dr. Robert Preus as professor and president. That is important for current CTS alumni and friends. Preus would be proud to have Rast as his successor. This is important for his role in raising support for CTS.

    7) He comes from a multi-generational LCMS family. Many of his older relatives were prominent LCMS academicians and clergy in their day: Professor G.E. Rast at Concordia-Addison in the late 1920s, one of the founding editors of the “Spectator” student paper; Professor Lawrence R. Rast, Sr. at Concordia-River Forest in the early 1960s; Professor Walter E. Rast at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis in the mid 1950s (when Robert Preus joined that faculty); and Harold Rast, an accomplished Old Testament scholar in the LCMS department of parish education and I believe also at CPH in the 1960 and 1970s. These connections are also important in his role in raising support for CTS with multi-generational LCMS families all around the synod.

    The synod is fortunate to have a man with so many qualifications for this office. I am sure we will not be disappointed with his years of service in this important position!

    Congratulations to Dr. Rast and the CTS community!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  7. Rev. Anthony Bertram
    May 21st, 2011 at 14:52 | #7

    Dr. Rast was my personal choice for new President, and he will excel in his new position, I’m sure.

    Did any of the rest of you notice his subtle homage to his namesake saint at the beginning of his remarks?

  8. Martin R. Noland
    May 21st, 2011 at 16:09 | #8

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I apologize for forgetting to give credit to someone who was an unsung hero in the CTS Accreditation Process, and who should be listed in my point #1 under comment #6 above. That is Rev. Robert Roethemeyer, who did the lion’s share of the work get to the seminary to a ten year term. This was also while he was making plans for the library extension, which should be dedicated this year. We have some really talented and hard-working men at our seminarys, for which we should be grateful!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  9. Carl Vehse
    May 21st, 2011 at 18:00 | #9

    There was another notice given at 1:27 into the video by the Rev. Wayne Graumann, chairman of the CTS Board of Regents, when he introduced President Harrison as “the Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison.”

    At its 2011 commencement ceremonies Concordia Theological Seminary awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to President Harrison, as well as to Dr. Wilhelm Weber from South Africa and to outgoing CTS president, the Rev. Dr. Dean O. Wenthe.

  10. Rev. Roger D. Sterle
    May 21st, 2011 at 19:30 | #10

    @Carl Vehse #9
    So Carl, I will award you an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree!! :-) Now would you award me one???? :-) :-)

  11. May 21st, 2011 at 19:48 | #11

    This is a tremendous thing for the LCMS and Lutheranism at large. I fully support and am anticipating good things from Dr. Rast’s election at CTSFW. Congratulations to Dr. Rast and the seminary. Now let’s reform our districts – a real sticky wicket for the LCMS.

  12. Rev. Roger D. Sterle
    May 21st, 2011 at 20:42 | #12

    JOhn,

    You have a much harder row to hoe in the RMD than I in the IDE.

  13. May 21st, 2011 at 21:21 | #13

    No doubt.

  14. May 21st, 2011 at 23:08 | #14

    An excellent choice from an excellent field of candidates which, in good part, is just one of the reasons for which we should thank God for the presidency of Dean Wenthe. And what a blessing to have all the unelected profs teaching our future pastors at CTS. God’s grace enable them —and their new president— to be courageous in their confessional convictions during the critical years to come.

  15. helen
    May 22nd, 2011 at 08:14 | #15

    @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #10
    @Carl Vehse #9
    So Carl, I will award you an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree!!
    Now would you award me one????

    May I have a ‘tin star’, too? 8-^)
    No, I suppose this is a man’s game… (sigh)

    (Besides, I got my 15 year pin only last week.) LOL!

  16. helen
    May 22nd, 2011 at 08:16 | #16

    The Rev. Dr. Harrison is working on the real thing,
    though I suppose it’s not getting much attention this year….

  17. Rev. Roger D. Sterle
    May 22nd, 2011 at 17:21 | #17

    Not a lot of talk on the net about Dr. Rast becoming President of the Seminary. Course, there were only about 270 who watched the live streaming. Does this small number show us something about the cares and concerns of the general public of the LCMS about who becomes President?

  18. Mollie
    May 22nd, 2011 at 18:49 | #18

    I don’t know, Pr. Sterle. How many would you expect to watch the live stream? I didn’t, and I’m super interested in the outcome.

    But everyone at church was interested in the news, for what it’s worth.

  19. Rev. Roger D. Sterle
    May 22nd, 2011 at 19:12 | #19

    @Mollie #18
    Mollie,
    I know there are many out there that are concerned. I was just thinking that there would be more since it is an important position in the training of future pastors. Course, I will allow that of those 270 who watched many may have been watching for a group and then would report to many others, as did I.

    I pray God’s abundant blessings on Larry and the crew at the seminary–they have their work cut out for them! He was the person that I would have most preferred being president and have already told him so–many times. I look forward to the directions he will take us through seminary training.

    I also look forward to your always informative postings. Say hi! to your dad the next time you are on the net with him and tell him to answer his emails!!:-)

  20. helen
    May 22nd, 2011 at 20:16 | #20

    @Mollie #18
    But everyone at church was interested in the news, for what it’s worth.

    I missed the live stream, but I was interested. (I missed my grandson’s vicarage placement, which was “live” from CTS last week.) I could look them both up after.

    And we had prayers in church this morning for Dr. Rast (and all leaders of our synod).

    I thought they had a good group from which to choose a president. I’ve gone to CE classes here in Austin twice under Dr. Rast, American religion first, and Lutherans in America the second time, both fast paced, fact filled weeks!

  21. boaz
    May 23rd, 2011 at 00:31 | #21

    Why do we care about accreditation? One thing the seminaries should be doing is lessening debt load without sacrificing quality of instruction. Extraneous cost and administration in place to obtain accreditation might be a good place to start cutting.

  22. Rev. James Knuth
    May 23rd, 2011 at 09:18 | #22

    To Boaz;

    Our seminaries have several men on staff whose sole job is
    to solicit funds from wealthy laity to leave the sem in their
    will. They are called Foundation Officers or something like
    that. And their salary is based on commission of the funds
    they raise for the sem. Fund raising is a big part of sem
    operations. The St. Louis Sem just completed a $70 million
    campaign.

    ((( moderator: This is not the LCMS Rev James Knuth, who has written me and said these comments are not from him. It may be another Rev James Knuth; I am attempting to find out who is writing using this name )))

  23. helen
    May 23rd, 2011 at 10:07 | #23

    @boaz #21
    Why do we care about accreditation?

    We care about accreditation because we like our professors to have “continuing education”, too.
    If you don’t have a previous degree from an accredited institution, it is harder to get into good graduate schools, as I understand it.

    Would you prefer the inbreeding we’d get if all our profs had M Div’s plus “tin star” doctorates!?

    How about employing any time and influence you have to get Fuller, willowcreek, and PLI out of our seminaries? (No accreditation needed for those, I dare say!)

  24. May 23rd, 2011 at 10:48 | #24

    Great news! May God use President Rast as a great blessing for His church!

  25. John Clark
    May 23rd, 2011 at 11:26 | #25

    Rev. Knuth,

    @Rev. James Knuth #22

    Because this is a public forum, and you have made a public statement, I feel compelled to call you out on this. Your statement is patently false.

    I know four of those individuals (two at Ft. Wayne and two at St. Louis) personally. They are paid a flat salary, no different than the admissions counselors or any other professional staff. One of them showed me the professional code of ethics which governs their activities. That code forbids being paid any kind of commission.

    If you don’t believe this, call the seminaries (both of them) and ask to speak to the chief financial officer, or human resources director, whatever the churchly title is for the person who signs paychecks. Then ask if the fundraising staff is paid a commission on the amount of money raised.

  26. Rev. James Knuth
    May 23rd, 2011 at 16:58 | #26

    Attention John Clark

    I got my information from someone who served in this capacity in the late 1970’s and
    and early 1980’s at St. Louis. He could have been pulling my leg and joking with me.
    I would say also then that my statement is false I apologize for the error,

    ((( moderator: This is not the LCMS Rev James Knuth, who has written me and said these comments are not from him. It may be another Rev James Knuth; I am attempting to find out who is writing using this name )))

  27. Sam Lewis
    May 24th, 2011 at 08:50 | #27

    What about this chatter I have been seeing about Dr. Rast being a proponent of the SMP program?

    If this is true I find it very troubling.
    Sam

  28. Martin R. Noland
    May 24th, 2011 at 09:11 | #28

    Dear Pastor Knuth and BJS Bloggers,

    The matter of ethics and professional conduct among church fund-raisers is an important and ongoing issue.

    It is true that both of the seminaries have a significant development (i.e., fund-raising) departments. They were forced to increase this staff when the synod started cutting back its financial support to the seminaries over a decade ago. If they did not do this, either or both seminaries would be bankrupt today. If you want to “blame” someone for this situation, don’t blame the seminaries.

    As funding methods were changing in the synod in the late 1970s, a number of sharp synodical leaders put their heads together, and realized they needed a professional association for all the new fund-raisers the synod was employing. The result was the Association of Lutheran Development Executives (see their website here: http://www.alde.org).

    I have attended one annual conference, and been very impressed with their commitment to professionalism and ethics. Much of the credit for the leadership direction of this group goes to Ed Bertram, now retired, formerly on staff at Trinity Lutheran Church, Roselle, Illinois.

    Some people will say bad things about fund-raisers because they have a guilty conscience about their own lack of stewardship. Trying to find fault with fund-raisers is a way to appease a conscience that is parsimonious. Maybe that is why Saint Paul got into so much trouble, and resistance, in the apostolic church, since his letters are almost all partially fund-raising letters too.

    Fund-raisers, i.e., development officers, perform a very important function for the church and their work should not be denigrated by anyone who cares about the work of the church.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  29. Martin R. Noland
    May 24th, 2011 at 09:58 | #29

    @Sam Lewis #27

    Dear Mr. Lewis,

    If you listen to “chatter,” you probably won’t get the whole story on SMP. You’ll just get bits and pieces of what makes sense to people who don’t understand what is going on.

    In my opinion, the “Specific Ministry Pastor” is an accomodation to districts that don’t want to follow the mandates of synod with regard to the training of pastors. When SMP was passed, it was the ONLY way to bring those districts in line. It has not been widely published, but some districts were doing their own “ministry formation” programs, and I think one even called its program a seminary.

    Who is to blame for these renegade districts? Well, first the district president, who is first and foremost an officer of the national synod. He should be nipping renegade seminary programs in his district in the bud. He should be the first one to stand up and say, “Pastoral formation and education is the business of our two seminaires; and we need to support them.”

    Why don’t all the districts and their presidents do this? I don’t know. But that was a very important reason, maybe the most important reason, why SMP was formed, so that the NATIONAL SYNOD would reassert its duties in this area through its seminaries.

    That is the reason that I reluctantly agreed to accept the SMP program, even though, like many other synodical resolutions, it was only “half-baked when it came out of the oven.” It still needs work to make it fully Lutheran.

    By the way, this problem of districts wanting to “do their own thing” is nothing new. The members of the Synodical Survey Commission in 1959-61 observed how this has been a concern since the division into districts, and been a problem for the synod in the 20th century. Their answer to the problem was that the synod, on the one hand, and the districts, on the other, need to stick to their own unique functions. SMP is an attempt to do that with respect to pastoral education.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  30. Carl Vehse
    May 24th, 2011 at 10:38 | #30

    In my opinion, the “Specific Ministry Pastor” is an accomodation to districts that don’t want to follow the mandates of synod with regard to the training of pastors. When SMP was passed, it was the ONLY way to bring those districts in line…. Who is to blame for these renegade districts? Well, first the district president, who is first and foremost an officer of the national synod.

    How many presidents of these “renegade districts” have had their synodical membership restricted, suspended, or shredded by their ecclesiastical supervisor for such behavior? If the answer to date is “a little less than one” then well, perhaps second “to blame” would be the renegade DP’s ecclesiastical supervisor… ya’ think?!?

    And perhaps the third to blame might be all those synodical members (and thumb-sitting convention delegates) who are not demanding the second-to-blame carry out his constitutional responsibilities on the first-to-blame.

  31. Sam Lewis
    May 24th, 2011 at 10:55 | #31

    Dr. Noland,
    I appreciate your explanation and agree that something needs to be done about the original problem as you outlined it.

    But I refuse to believe the solution is to allow a less educated person to assume a Pastoral role even if it is for a “Specific Ministry” with a limited scope.

    I can only hope that Dr. Rast’s support for it is as luke warm as yours seems to be and that eventually we can get our laity educated again in the importance of Word and Sacrament, and the need for a well educated Pastor.
    Thank You,
    Sam Lewis

  32. Concerned Seminarian
    May 24th, 2011 at 15:53 | #32

    @Carl Vehse #30

    No less than 8 District Presidents have been removed from office or forced to resign their position because they refused to follow the Synod’s Constitution. Of course, this happened over 35 years ago (following the 1975 Synod Convention), but the principle still applies: If you (as DP) do not do your duty as an officer of the Synod, the Synod President has every right to remove you from office. The question is whether the SP is willing to do so.

  33. GaiusKurios
    May 24th, 2011 at 16:20 | #33

    Concerned Seminarian writes…”The question is whether the SP is willing to do so.”

    Answer: NO

  34. James
    May 25th, 2011 at 16:49 | #34

    When people aspire to become certified teachers in order to become school administrators as quickly as possible, then there is a problem with teacher working conditions. Similarly, when people study to become ordained pastors with the sole intent to become an administrator, what does that say about the working conditions of a pastor compared to a church administrator?

    Does the LCMS even need districts anymore. What the circuits cannot do by themselves, the national office could do. If districts were dissolved tomorrow, would anyone notice?

  35. GaiusKurios
    May 26th, 2011 at 11:27 | #35

    James,
    I think you are correct that if the districts would be dissolved tomorrow, things could be handled att he circuitor national level. At one poing I do believe that districts served a purpose. But with improved transportation, telecommunications, the internet, etc., the districts are an unnecessary layer of administration/church government.

  36. BananaRepublican
    May 26th, 2011 at 14:39 | #36

    James,

    I agree with you. I question how such “ecclesiastical supervision” can truly be exercised in the most efficient, economic, prescient, thorough, consistent, accountable, and fair way when the jurisdiction is any larger than a typical circuit in terms of the average number of congregations. For example, why not make a circuit a district, and make the circuit counselor the equivalent of a District President, and give him just one fulltime administrative/secretarial aide, along with another pastor in the circuit the vice-president to assist him when/where he needs it…they would still remain fulltime pastors serving parishes in the circuit, and could appointed the pastor rep and one lay rep from each congregation in the circuit, whether by vote or better yet by “casting lots” from a slate of nominees meeting a set of agreed upon qualifications (e.g., 7 years minimum parish service, etc.), and establish term limits (e.g., two 3-year terms maximum). And by all means, remove from them the current powers of DP’s to set and impose call-lists (or at least attempt to do so with unwitting congregations), make comments on SET/PIF forms which a pastor is never given the opportunity to see (or better yet, eliminate such forms altogether), and create some sort of utility independent of DP’s to handle– in conjunction with the seminary placement officer– the responsibility of placement of candidates out of the seminaries, as well as to supply call-lists to congregations. (Actually, couldn’t we just set up a database for all pastors in the Synod, accessible by all calling congregations?) Do that, and then you’ll see much more accountability out of DP’s who will then have nothing to hold over a faithful pastor and/or congregation which holds them to account with regard to the consistency and fairness in their exercise of ecclesiastical discipline.

    Instead of reducing the number of Districts to 5 (as I’m hearing might be the plan), wouldn’t it make more sense to increase their number to 500 and/or however many circuits exist within the Synod as a whole? And instead of liquidating such established mission posts as currently being for example with ULC-Minneapolis, why not first liquidate all these District Headquarters and cut their large staffs? Why not let circuits handle the services a District Headquarters claims to render in justification of their existence and large salaries, and let then the circuits collectively work together to foster mission starts in their area…They can do it much more efficiently, and since they would “own” the project, would have much more interest in investing their time and energies to support it. Again, I just do not see any good argument for why we still have such large Districts with such a large geographical area and number of congregations.

  37. helen
    May 27th, 2011 at 06:38 | #37

    @BananaRepublican #36
    For example, why not make a circuit a district, and make the circuit counselor the equivalent of a District President, and give him just one fulltime administrative/secretarial aide, along with another pastor in the circuit the vice-president to assist him when/where he needs it…

    My first LCMS Pastor was a VP of Atlantic District, which at that time stretched all the way to Canada along the east coast. [It has since been split] He had no extra help; I’m not sure that the local congregation’s secretary was full time.

    You want to “give” every circuit counselor a full time secretary!? The district office is overloaded with people collecting salaries; you think we’d divert less money this way? Sounds like another layer of “empire building” to me.

    Perhaps a better way would be to figure out what really needs doing at the district level and eliminate the rest!

    Your database, open to all congregations, could be a good idea.
    [Some might claim privacy issues. Note that the salaries of public employees are open to public inquiry.] A little light and air might shame the congregations who are paying less than they could… or the Pastors/synodical employees who are demanding more than they should.

  38. Rev. Karl Weber
    May 27th, 2011 at 09:03 | #38

    I knew Larry Rast while as an M.Div. student and then was taught by him while earning my D.Min. degree. We as a church are truly blessed to have Larry as our new Seminary president.

    Rev. Karl Weber

  39. LaMarr Blecker
    May 27th, 2011 at 12:13 | #39

    James:

    From a practical point of view, it may be necessary to alter the flow of funds (congregation-to-district-to Synod). Were congregational contributions made directly to Synod, which, in turn, would fund the districts, the power of the purse (so to speak) would not rest with the districts and district presidents. W/O the power of the purse, the ecclesiastical clout of district presidents viz-a-viz the SP would tend to be substantially diminished. At any rate the power of the districts and district presidents to fund synod needs to be seriously curtailed.

  40. helen
    May 27th, 2011 at 12:45 | #40

    @LaMarr Blecker #39
    From a practical point of view, it may be necessary to alter the flow of funds (congregation-to-district-to Synod).

    That’s easy. Use the envelope in the May LW, and keep the address around. :)

  41. helen
    May 27th, 2011 at 12:48 | #41

    We need to remember though, that the “restructuring” was designed to put control of Synod at the top. It may not be abused presently, or some of the built-in abuses may be revised, but the laity would do well to be more vigilant, (and the administrations more transparent at every level).

  42. Walter Troeger
    June 1st, 2011 at 13:56 | #42

    Martin R. Noland :
    Dr. Rast is a superb choice, in many ways!
    1) About the most grueling thing a seminary administrator has to endure is accreditation…”

    Well, I would like to add another grueling task for a seminary president to endure, and that is to keep the instructors focused on using solid Lutheran material in their classrooms written by so many of our great LCMS church fathers. No more Rick Warren books. No sermons written by ordained women of other denominations. No church growth movement books. No more pushing for women ordination by instructors by making student read books written by ELCA professors. No more bashing other professors to their students. And the list goes on and on and on…

  43. Jason
    June 1st, 2011 at 15:19 | #43

    @Walter Troeger #42

    Walter Troeger for Seminary President the next time there is an opening. :)

  44. Anonymous
    June 1st, 2011 at 20:06 | #44

    @Helen #37,

    You write:
    “You want to “give” every circuit counselor a full time secretary!? The district office is overloaded with people collecting salaries; you think we’d divert less money this way? Sounds like another layer of “empire building” to me.”
    ————–
    You misunderstood–my apologies if my wording was the reason. I wasn’t suggesting ADDING another layer….I was suggesting moving the current “layer” down to the circuit level (where you’d no longer have some district headquarters with 15+ staff in some cases)….Granted, in some cases you might be right about it being too expensive for some circuits-become-districts to afford even one full-time staff aide (i.e., secretary). But I don’t think it is impossible for all circuits. Improbable idea perhaps, but I’m not ready to concede it is crazy.

  45. helen
    June 2nd, 2011 at 22:01 | #45

    @Anonymous #44
    I wasn’t suggesting ADDING another layer….I was suggesting moving the current “layer” down to the circuit level (where you’d no longer have some district headquarters with 15+ staff in some cases)…

    I understood that you weren’t suggesting another layer be added.
    I’m just not sure that a fulltime secretary for every circuit would be needed.
    Or that such an arrangement wouldn’t absorb more “mission” money than the district office does.

  46. helen
    June 2nd, 2011 at 22:05 | #46

    @Walter Troeger #42
    No sermons written by ordained women of other denominations. No church growth movement books.

    FTM, no rubbish written by female CUS professors.
    [Maybe I shouldn’t be sexist on that one?]

  47. Jason
    June 3rd, 2011 at 03:09 | #47

    @helen #46

    Not necessarily sexist. I had a female prof for a worship class at CSP I would trust. I would say let’s get rid of the rubbish, male or female. ;)

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