Confessional Leader Elected President of Concordia Chicago, by Pr. Rossow

May 31st, 2014 Post by

Dr. Daniel Gard, Professor of Exegesis at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, is the new president of Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, Illinois. This is a wonderful blessing that is very positive for the proliferation of our Lord’s Gospel in the LCMS. President elect Gard is both confessional and a leader. That is a way too rare combination in our LCMS bureaucracy. This is a watershed event for the LCMS.

It is a watershed event because this is the first big ballot that has been cast on the coattails of LCMS President Matt Harrison. Harrison is in his second term and the mushy middle of the LCMS electorate is coming to respect him and elect likeminded officials. These days Synodical politics mirrors national politics. There is a left a right and a middle and it is the middle that determines where we go. The right and the middle combined in the last two synod conventions to elect Harrison and in some cases, Regents (Board of Directors) who approach church in the same manner as Harrison. This is the case in River Forest where a confessional leader was elected president – Dr. Daniel Gard. We pray that this is a trend that will continue.

A sign that the River Forest Board is pretty solid is the fact that this election was a no lose election. All three of the candidates on the final slate were strongly confessional and good leaders. I know them all personally. Dr. Fickenscher was my Dr. Father (Doctor of Ministry, Concordia, Fort Wayne) and I had him for class as well. Dr. Scott Murray is one of our synodical vice presidents, was one of my professors and I have been hosted in his home in Houston. Dr. Gard was also a part of my dissertation review team. They each would have brought much needed strength to the university. Dr. Fickenscher would have been an incredible fund-raiser for the institution. Dr. Murray would have brought incredible scholarship to River Forest. Dr. Gard brings what may be needed most at this time. He is a genuine, kind person who is also a strong leader.

I mentioned above that confessionalism and leadership are a too rare combination in the LCMS. The Harrison administration has brought us plenty of confessionalism and plenty of leadership but not always in the same person. It is my opinion that Dr. Gard is one of those rare people that has both along with kindness and fairness. Gard is a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Naval Reserves. I have seen that he has the strong leadership skills that go with that title.

He will need every ounce of leadership that he can muster to be president of River Forest. We have documented here on BJS the several challenges there.

A university president is not the god of the university so he will not be able to snap his fingers and make changes. Change, if it happens at all, will be slow and deliberate. But I am convinced that with Dan Gard captaining the good ship Concordia-Chicago, the odds are the highest they can possibly be that changes that serve the Gospel of our Lord will come. Dan Gard is sincere, straight-forward and like our Lord, is fearless when it comes to facing the Enemy. Confessionalism and leadership are a much desired pair particularly in the hands of a genuine and fair man of God.






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  1. Diane
    May 31st, 2014 at 09:37 | #1

    This is indeed good news! Issues,Etc. had Dr. Gard on in April discussing seder meals that many Lutheran churches have during the Lenten season. He didn’t think that was such a great idea. I’d thought the same and it was good to hear that I wasn’t off in my thinking.

    Dr. Murray and Dr. Fickenscher both would have been excellent choices.

    Thanks for posting this, Pastor Rossow.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  2. John Frahm
    May 31st, 2014 at 10:12 | #2

    Did he accept it?

  3. May 31st, 2014 at 11:23 | #3

    John,

    He has not. Let’s pray that he will.

  4. May 31st, 2014 at 12:16 | #4

    “These days Synodical politics mirrors national politics. There is a left a right and a middle and it is the middle that determines where we go.”

    While I agree with you, Pastor Rossow, it’s very sad to see this of the LCMS, or of any Christian denomination. In one sense, when it comes to all things Scriptural, there should be no “left,” “right,” or “middle.” There should only be “Scriptural.”

  5. David Vandercook
    May 31st, 2014 at 12:36 | #5

    If only CTX would have done the same…

  6. Abby
    May 31st, 2014 at 12:46 | #6

    “Dan Gard is sincere, straight-forward and like our Lord, is fearless when it comes to facing the Enemy.”

    I love that — especially the “fearless” part. . .

  7. May 31st, 2014 at 14:02 | #7

    Right David. I didn’t even know where to begin to describe the craziness in Austin.

    Hope things are going well for you down there in Houston.

  8. jb
    May 31st, 2014 at 14:24 | #8

    This is all cool beans!

    Carl (in my very first circuit); Scotty, for whom we mere students parted when he passed by, and Pastor Gard pastoring CUC – excellent men. Point well-taken about the “coattails,” Tim.

    And a “hey” to David – I, too, hope you are doing well. Pax to all!

    jb

  9. Richard Lewer
    May 31st, 2014 at 16:05 | #9

    He will be facing opposition from some faculty and students. Some students had already paraded around with posters against all three choices. He will need to move carefully. Give him time and keep him your prayers.

  10. Matt Moss
    May 31st, 2014 at 21:08 | #10

    @Richard Lewer #9
    Richard, I sincerely hope that story is not true. If I’m not mistaken Dr Gard has a daughter attending CUC. It would be truly awful for Christian students to picket against a Christian sister’s father in front of her very eyes. Again, I hope that report is not accurate.

  11. GaiusKurios
    June 1st, 2014 at 10:38 | #11

    My understanding is that the person who was elected at Concordia Austin is only the interium president.

  12. David
    June 1st, 2014 at 11:45 | #12

    @GaiusKurios #11
    I have heard the same thing, but none of the official notices seem to indicate that this is the case.

  13. John Rixe
    June 1st, 2014 at 12:01 | #13

    “Christian, 54, has served as dean of the university’s College of Business since fall 2005. In his new position as interim president and chief executive officer, he will follow President Dr. Tom Cedel, who is retiring after more than a decade of leading Concordia University Texas.”

    http://blogs.lcms.org/2014/christian-concordia-austin

  14. David
    June 1st, 2014 at 12:29 | #14

    @John Rixe #13
    My mistake. I had only read the notice sent out by CTX that lacked the “interim” tag. I suppose I should have simply said “official notice” rather than “notices” as I had only read the one.
    http://www.concordia.edu/news/article.cfm?newsID=1690

  15. Noreen
    June 2nd, 2014 at 09:28 | #15

    Don Christian is indeed the interim president for CTX. The reason for not emphasizing that fact on official notices was to maintain a sense of stability for the institution within the community. Our board worked very closely with Harrison and tried very hard to come to a conclusion that was more permanent, but in the meantime Don Christian is a fine choice and will be a good leader for CTX. I look forward to working with him.

  16. Rev. Robert Mayes
    June 2nd, 2014 at 11:26 | #16

    Dear friends in Christ:

    I suppose this is the place where we can share good Dr. Gard stories? I have a few.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  17. GaiusKurios
    June 2nd, 2014 at 12:27 | #17

    My hope is that Concordia Austin picks a man like Dr. Gard for president. Either of the two runner=ups for Concordia Chicago would be good choices.

  18. Martin R. Noland
    June 3rd, 2014 at 11:34 | #18

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    There is a lesson to be learned here. Please pay attention to it; and keep it in your mind for upcoming conventions.

    CU-Chicago has an outstanding set of Regents for this triennium. Some people worked diligently, I suspect, at sending in top-notch nominees, on time, with all the paper-work in order. The nominating committee did its work, too. And the convention paid attention to the Regents elections–which is not always the case. The lesson learned is: work on your nominations and find the best people you can for the positions, i.e., best in qualifications and best in commitment to our LCMS official doctrine and practice.

    CU-Chicago (formerly “River Forest” ) now has a group of Regents that wants CU-Chicago to be a top-notch university and orthodox-Lutheran at the same time, in other words, what Concordia Teacher’s College was established by synod to be in 1864. Only our two seminaries are older; thus making CU-Chicago the “flagship” of the Concordia University System.

    Totally appropriate, then, that the Rear Admiral (Lower Half) has been invited to come on deck and take the helm . . . :)

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  19. June 3rd, 2014 at 15:02 | #19

    Do I recall correctly that there was a Commission on Constitutional Matters decision some years ago that interim appointments have a limited scope and term? As I recall, someone had been serving for an extended period of time as de facto president of an LCMS entity, even though he had not been approved by Pres. Kieschnick as required by the bylaws. Pres. Kieschnick objected and received a ruling from the CCM that the entity’s board could not “work around” the provision requiring his approval as Synodical President by appointing a de facto president by means of an extended interim appointment. The board then appointed another individual, approved by Pres. Kieschnick as outlined in the bylaws, as the entity’s president.

  20. Anonymous
    June 4th, 2014 at 15:05 | #20

    Questions re Appointment of Interim Directors (01-2237)

    “An interim executive officer is one who provides leadership during the interval necessary to
    accomplish the established procedure to select a successor permanent executive officer. If the selection process is not conducted in an expeditious manner or is delayed because the governing board determines that other matters require prior resolution, then it is not an interim executive officer that is being appointed but rather an executive officer who is serving for an indeterminate period of time. In such a situation, the individual who is to serve during such indeterminate period of time must be selected from a slate of candidates selected by the board or commission in consultation and mutual concurrence with the President of the Synod. To hold otherwise would be contrary to the intention of the Bylaws that the President of the Synod must approve those individuals from whom a board or commission will choose its permanent executive officer. Therefore, it is a violation of the Bylaws of the Synod for a board, commission, or synodwide corporate entity to select an executive officer to serve for an indeterminate period of time without consultation with and the mutual concurrence of the President of the Synod.”

    For the full opinion see pp. 32ff.:
    http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1386

  21. June 4th, 2014 at 18:26 | #21

    >>the individual who is to serve during such indeterminate period of time must be selected from a slate of candidates selected by the board or commission in consultation and mutual concurrence with the President of the Synod. . . it is a violation of the Bylaws of the Synod for a board, commission, or synodwide corporate entity to select an executive officer to serve for an indeterminate period of time without consultation with and the mutual concurrence of the President of the Synod.

    I may be misreading the situation, but the press releases and stories give the impression that the new acting president of Concordia University Texas is intended to be for an “indeterminate period of time” beyond the “interval necessary to accomplish the established procedure to select a successor permanent executive officer.” Does anyone know if that is the case, and if so whether this process was followed of “consultation with and the mutual concurrence of the President of the Synod” for his appointment?

  22. helen
    June 4th, 2014 at 21:00 | #22

    @Rev. Kevin Vogts #21
    it is a violation of the Bylaws of the Synod for a board, commission, or synodwide corporate entity to select an executive officer to serve for an indeterminate period of time without consultation with and the mutual concurrence of the President of the Synod.

    Pastor Vogts, the “rest of the story”: who, what, why, when and where (as in Journalism 101), are really needed to understand that tale, don’t you think?

    IMHO, if we erased all the new by-laws (and decrees of CCM) back to about [2000?; 1992?] Synod might be better off.

    YMMV.

    Besides, in this case I think it was stated that the SP was involved.

  23. helen
    June 4th, 2014 at 21:24 | #23

    @Martin R. Noland #18
    CU-Chicago has an outstanding set of Regents for this triennium.

    I would guess that that River Forest [OK, CU-Chicago...a step down, but 'whatever!' ]didn’t suddenly collect a whole slate, but built it over more than one convention. It takes, as you say, determination and some hard work.

    A couple of good people have been put on CTX regents. They will need more to effect change.
    The tangled niceties of authority may explain the Chief Executive Officer title.

    If you aren’t rowing, at least don’t rock the boat!

  24. Tim Schenks
    June 5th, 2014 at 03:44 | #24

    Dr. Gard might actually prefer to remain a Vice Admiral in the Navy than retire from the military and become a university president. Of course, I’m sure his willingness to serve was already asked prior to his nomination.

  25. helen
    June 5th, 2014 at 13:42 | #25

    @Tim Schenks #24
    Dr. Gard might actually prefer to remain a Vice Admiral in the Navy…

    I’m glad he has that experience; he may look back fondly on it while piloting a “Lutheran” university (with a few subversives aboard).

  26. Paul Faulkner
    June 23rd, 2014 at 20:52 | #26

    I graduated from CURF in 2004 and remember the many ‘battles’ which had to be waged while I was an undergrad there. Chiefly of course when former President Heider communed from the hands of the ELCA pastor/ pastoress of Grace on the corner of campus. And of seeing his wife Carolyn in a clerical collar while studying at LSTC. Posters on faculty members doors proclaiming ‘Liberate Lutheran Women,’ with a representation of a ticking time bomb. Many faculty members were tenured professors in the LCMS yet regularly attended congregations served by the ELCA. Even after Heider resigned (or fiscal problems… nothing to do with theology) he was given a standing ovation after Chapel, led by the District President at the time, Bill Ameiss. I can recall when the campus ‘diversity’ committee was advocating establishing office hours for clergy of other denominations… since of course non-LCMS students might be offended otherwise. Lay preachers in chapel, chapel dancing, etc, etc. Thanks God for the theology faculty we had at the time, including Brian Mosemann, Dr. Von Hagel, Dr. Steinmann, and Dr. Bertels. Most of the other faculty I encountered were dismissing things like a six-day creation, claiming women were being oppressed in the church, and advocating that we should be in fellowship with the ELCA when I reminded them we werent.

    Last time around there was a vacancy -prior to Johnson getting the call- the other two on the short list were both laymen, and both indicated they would ‘preach’ if asked. Johnson was the best choice of the three.

    I had the opportunity to speak with the sainted Dr. Paul Zimmerman while doing research on Seminex as an undergrad. I heard first hand from him some of what certain faculty members put he and his family through. I pray that Dr. Gard would be able to avoid similar issues during his presidency.

  27. Diane
    June 24th, 2014 at 07:55 | #27

    @Paul Faulkner #26
    I’m very glad Dr. Gard has accepted the call to CURF. I attended River Forest in the late 1960’s. Before I went off to college in 1967 my pastor said this to me, “Diane, just remember what you were taught here in your confirmation classes.” I had no idea what he meant. As I look back, my dear Pastor was warning me about the liberal point of view RF had at that time. During my second quarter at RF I had an intro. to the OT class. There for the very first time I heard the false teachings of historical criticism in my professor’s discussion of the book of Genesis. The liberal bent of RF in their theology dept. has been around for decades. I will pray for Dr. Gard and his family.

    Diane

  28. Michael Brockman
    June 26th, 2014 at 17:20 | #28

    And today came to appeal for money to be sent in October to CUC. Just what is the financial situation there?

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