Making Lemonade out of KFUO Lemons – A Motion to Fund Seminarians’ Tuition

A group of conservative/confessional folks have been thinking about the recent KFUO situation and have crafted a motion that makes lemons out of the lemonade by using the proceeds to assist seminarians who sometimes go to their first calls with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

It would be good for each of our readers to ask their congregations to consider sending this motion to the synod in convention. (Click here for details from the LCMS handbook on how to do this – see section 3.1.6. Congregations are members of synod and have the right to submit overtures. By the way, the Blue Ribbon proposals will diminish the congregation’s right to do this and centralizes control in many other ways.)

Whereas, Holy Scripture mandates that all congregations should be served with one of Christ’s undershepherds – a pastor, (Titus 1:5), and

Whereas, our Lutheran Confessions also describe the absolute necessity of faithful and well prepared pastors within every congregation, (Tractatus – The Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops, 60-61), and

Whereas, one of the objectives of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod is to, “Recruit and train pastors, teachers, and other professional church workers…”, (Constitution of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Article III, 3.), and

Whereas, the Synod in convention in 1995, Overture 5-02A, voted to set as a goal in the final Resolved, “…the ingathering of funds sufficient to cover the cost of all tuition for every student enrolled in the seminaries for the purpose of entering LCMS pastoral ministry…”, and

Whereas, to date The LCMS has been unable to implement that overture, and

Whereas, General Ministry seminary students, due to the increasing costs associated with higher education and the decreased support of the synod to the seminaries, are incurring and graduating with educational debt loads often well beyond the means of a pastor’s average salary to repay, and

Whereas, such debt loads place an added burden upon the pastor and his family and thus also on his ability to serve joyfully and effectively in the parish, and

Whereas, General Ministry seminary students incur the greatest proportion of educational debt in preparation for entrance to the Pastoral Office, and

Whereas, President Kieschnick has frequently warned our Synod that our future supply of pastors will be inadequate due to the retirement of the “Baby Boomer” generation of LCMS pastors and the need for pastors to serve in new mission starts, and

Whereas, the sale of KFUO-FM has brought to our Synod unexpected income, therefore be it

Resolved, that the Synod in convention establish two KFUO-FM endowment funds for the support of tuition payments on behalf of General Ministry seminarians at our two seminaries utilizing all current and future funds received from the sale of KFUO-FM to fund the endowments, and be it further

Resolved, that Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, each be allocated one half of the proceeds received from the sale of KFUO-FM for investment in their respective separate endowment funds which each seminary will administer.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Making Lemonade out of KFUO Lemons – A Motion to Fund Seminarians’ Tuition — 39 Comments

  1. As a seminary student, this sounds good to me!

    Could there be a higher amount that goes to students who came into the seminary from a Concordia? Those of us coming from one of our Synod’s colleges are probably in more debt than people coming from a state school. Yes, coming from a Concordia has its advantages academically, but financially it’s a burden.

  2. Way to go Paul!!!!!! Would love to see something Scripturally constructive & Scripturally missional done…but… Time & tide will tell where those who chose to do this, where their hearts truly lie. That is what I will wait on. Sadly, me thinks, I’m going to be waiting….a really….long…..time. I KNOW personally, of Pastor’s who’s debts, were demanded payment from their placement congregation…can we say hot tub (oh yeah…totally true) and the like, I would love to see them choose more wisely, those who qualify for the undershepherd, rather than plying a warm body with $$$$, that may not. Or better yet, put it in a fund for continuting education, in the foundations of our denomination, for those who already ARE in the Divine Office. Public school teachers need a certain amount of credits, per contract, for continuing education. How much more Spiritually Vital, could it be for those who are charged with the souls of their flock? Good start, but ultimately, won’t serve the many, just the view, and that few are at times debatable. I’ll be a watch & see person, but I always try to remember, the Hand of the Lord in these things….even when we all can’t see It.

  3. THIS is a brilliant idea.

    THIS is really “funding the mission.”

    THIS is finally putting our priorities (and our money) in the right place.

    THIS is the best use of the proceeds from a previously squandered and misused asset.

    ONLY someone blinded by a misplaced loyalty to classical music (or its secular St. Louis patrons) could argue against THIS.


  4. I think it’s a great idea! $100,000, if well invested, could buy coffee for each of our students.

  5. Todd Wilken :THIS is a brilliant idea.
    THIS is really “funding the mission.”
    THIS is finally putting our priorities (and our money) in the right place.
    THIS is the best use of the proceeds from a previously squandered and misused asset.
    ONLY someone blinded by a misplaced loyalty to classical music (or its secular St. Louis patrons) could argue against THIS.

    I agree completely.

    We don’t do this often, but a completely anonymous comment has been deleted. To the author of the comment: If you repost it with your name, or in a less offensive manner, we will pass the comment.

    Our policy states that you are free to post anonymous comments as long as you give us a valid email address so we can contact you.

  7. I’d like to add on to that part about Kieschnick’s perceived “need for pastors to serve in new mission starts”.
    There should be also a certain percentage of the proceeds from the sale of KFUO-FM allocated specifically for the funding of pastors in these missions, or doing true missionary work.
    After all, what encouragement is there for our fine seminarians to choose a missionary career, if there is no funding for it?

  8. A better course, in my opinion, is to offer loan forgiveness and repayment assistance for every year served in the parish, perhaps starting the second year when student loan payments start coming due. I worry about simply lowering the threshold of admission and drawing progressively lesser quality men into the ministry. I say keep tuition where it is, and help those who actually end up serving a call faithfully.

  9. While tuition will probably never go away, I would much prefer that all our church workers, both teachers and preachers, be given their education with no cost except for their living expenses, i.e. housing and food. At the “universities” this could be paid by those not going into church work which make up a far greater % then those going into church work. Certainly those heading into secular jobs which on the whole pay a better salary would not object to making it easier school wise, for those seeking to enter church work. Think of it–church workers who actually come out of school with no debt!

  10. “ONLY someone blinded by a misplaced loyalty to classical music (or its secular St. Louis patrons) could argue against THIS.”

    Can TW imagine the possibility that a patron of the arts might also belong to a Christian church…perhaps even a Lutheran Church…golly, maybe even a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church? Why would enjoying classical music be a “misplaced loyalty” or automatically place one in the category of “secular?”

    I have no standing to post on this blog as I am no longer a member of the LCMS so let me say that if the station is causing a hole in your budget you are right to be rid of it but it surely seems to me that you could have gotten a better deal. But then, I’m no radio broadcasting expert either!

  11. I agree with Rev. Eggleston. This proposal, while terrific ought to reimburse those who have been “vested,” for lack of a better term. Vicarage does not serve as an effective trial periodand we would do well to consider a curacy instead. How many vacate the pastorate after a few years?

    Yet, as a financially bleeding seminarian I agree wholeheartedly that the use of the proceeds to support the seminaries. Pr. Rossow’s statement is too gentle. It should read: “using the proceeds to assist seminarians who OFTEN go to their first calls with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.” At least, from a quick poll, I know of very few who have escaped without delving into federal education welfare.

  12. Christopher,

    Thanks for the correction. Since I did not have exact facts I was trying to err on the side of the conservative but from what I have heard, you are correct, it was too gentle.


  13. CGO,

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough.

    I wasn’t talking about people who enjoy classical music. I was talking about those who have elevated their loyalty to classical music (or its secular St. Louis patrons) over their loyalty to the Gospel’s clear proclamation.

    And, before you say no such people exist, they do. Some of them work for the LCMS.


  14. Roger #10,

    What a brilliant idea. Until we can totally remake our Concordias (which I dooubt will happen before the Lord returns), let’s take the money that we are whoring from the pagans (we have basically lost the parochial nature of our Concordias because of our chase after the almighty $$$), increase it by a neglegable 1-2% and use that to fund the church work students and seminarians. I love it! Beat the system with the faulty system. We might as well do it if we are going to build our schools on secular programs as we have decided to do in the last 15 years.


  15. There is a lack of agreement of what defines Christian music and its’ place. There is also confusion about artists.

    I left LCMS and Christianity as a teen in part because LCMS seemed not to care about musicians in the arts, at least in my home church experience. I was supposed to stay home to quilt and sew, being a good Lutheran woman. I had this gift of music and couldn’t understand why anyone would want me not to use it. I became a Christian as an adult. I was drawn to God through the music of Bach, Mendelssohn and Mahler. I could HEAR God in the music.

    God also used a pastor in another city with a heart for artists. I was astounded to find out he and other Christians at this church actually supported and loved me as a musician. This pastor showed me how the music points to God: His beauty and creativeness. He also helped me see that God is the author of my gift and that this giftedness was a sort of calling that God had placed in me and that it not only was ok to use this giftedness but I would honor Him in doing so. I stopped worshipping the music and began to worship the Trinity who authored music. When I moved to St. Louis, I found out that the classical station was run by LCMS…I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy that I came back to LCMS. It was a great platform as I began to talk to my colleagues about the love of Christ and how He gave them a great gift and calling in their music.

    I see classical music as a glorious part of God’s creation that points to His beauty and to Him. I see classical music way to witness to non-believers in the same way God did through the music of Bach, Mendelssoh, Mahler and the pastor with me.

    I’ve tried to be as kind as possible in my posts but I see it is no use and this is taking a toll on my faith and in LCMS.
    I ask that if there are softened hearts anywhere on this blog, to please pray for artists. Thank you.

  16. I like Pastor Eggleson’s idea. I think some financial support during seminary would be appropriate, but having repayment assistance tethered to faithful fulfillment of a call would be better stewardship, as it would lessen the amount of funds given to men who ultimately do not serve as pastors.

  17. @Phillip Magness #18

    If you mean the ones who go into the bureaucracy, Phillip, I’m all for it! They make it up in better salaries than most of our working Pastors ever see.

    But if you don’t: how many men do you know who left the Pastoral ministry by choice?

  18. @T. Rossow. I don’t understand how we are “whoring money from the pagans” at the “Concordias.” Remember there are 10 Concordias and they are very different.

    Do you mean charging tuition to students who aren’t LCMS? What if a student majors in history or business and is also a devout Lutheran? Should they be charged more?

    I don’t think we could legally charge students majoring in non-church work fields more. However, we could actually raise money for specific scholarship funds (like for church world fields) instead of fundraising for loosely-defined evangelism programs.

  19. I have always opposed the use of endowment funds, which rarely provide sufficient annual funding to be effective while keeping out of circulation large amounts of funds that could be put to immediate use. Given today’s rate of return on “safe” investments, it would require at least $625,000 of endowment to fund a single year’s $25,000 tuition (using 4% return). While I don’t immediately recall the supposed sale price of KFUO-FM, I doubt that more that more than 75 such tuitions could be covered in total each year – 37 per seminary.

    This is why it would make more sense to provide debt relief after graduation and placement for those who successfully complete their education. Better yet…provide matching tuition debt relief to any that is provided by congregations to their pastors.

  20. Christian, Classical Musician, member of LCMS,

    What you need to understand is that my concerns regarding KFUO FM have very little to do with classical music. My concerns are about the management of KFUO FM and their allies in LCMS leadership…

    1) making the FM a priority over the Chrisitan AM station,
    2) allowing cost to be shifted from the FM to the AM under the table,
    3) repeating the lie that the FM funds the AM,
    4) allowing the FM station to become beholden to a decidedly secular monied interests in the St. Louis arts community, and
    5) all the while claiming that the FM station was doing Christian “ministry.”

    The station’s format is really irrelevant to my concerns about the FM.


  21. (sigh) My husband has told me to write again so here goes.

    Pastor Todd Wilken:
    I do understand you are saying KFUO was poorly run in terms of spreading the Gospel, and it sounds as though there indeed has been some cost shifting (I’ve heard this from my sources too), which is wrong. It would have been very interesting to see how much $$$ LCMS would have received from the St. Louis arts community if FM was run as the AM station with classical music format. I believe many would still give. My dream is to see a Christian-run classical station happen somewhere, somehow….for I do think it can be done. I really do understand your frustration in this and feel the same frustration.

    In regards to your #5: ‘claiming the FM station was doing Christian ministry….’
    I’ve said this before, I agree that LCMS did not do its’ job in having the kind of leadership that would have made this an overtly Christian station, since they claim it to be. I agree with much of what you say! Would you read on?

    Pastor Wilken, I ask that you pray over my words below and respond after. I would love to hear a thoughtful, loving response from you pertaining to my points below. I am just a layperson so that may make my words less important, but would you be so kind?

    1) LCMS leadership vs. KFUO management-rebuke vs. witness

    I believe that KFUO management was simply doing their job as led BY LCMS. LCMS does deserve your wrathful rebuking as religious leaders. LCMS are believers and religious leaders while KFUO management and staff are not. KFUO management is angry because they were hired to do a job in a secular way and now are being told that they are the devil because they weren’t running the station in a Christian manner. In my opinion, KFUO managment is to be WITNESSED to, not rebuked, for they are not religious leaders.

    2) How does Jesus respond to variou people in Scripture?

    In Jesus’ response to various people. I see Jesus’ rebuking of religious hypocricy and of backslidden or misled believers (Galatians, Laodicea). I do not see Jesus rebuke the unbelieving Jew or Gentile that He is trying to reach. I see that He is direct (and loving) with each, but does not rebuke them in the way He rebukes relgious leaders/misled believers. Your rebuking style of KFUO management is difficult for me. I am NOT suggesting a feel-good, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend style of witness!! i am talking about using the fruit of the Spirit in reaching out.

    3) How is KFUO management being witnessed to?

    (If we have a difference in who gets rebuked, this point might not matter to you.)

    Pastor, I yearn to hear about your ongoing (or even past) attempts to witness lovingly to KFUO leadership about the Gospel.
    -how you have witnessed to them in love, patience, kindness, peace, humbleness
    – how you are still friends with them though you do not agree with where they are
    -how we might all pray for them because your heart is heavy for them to know Jesus.

    If you have not, why not? I am curious to hear your thoughts.

    4) How does Jesus speak to the fine artist? And when does Jesus give up?

    As much as I hear you say I do not listen to your points, in all humbleness I think you ignore what I say. People in the arts are a tough witness field but they still deserve to hear the Gospel. Paul was probably a tough witness field too. Did God give up on Him? As I wrote in my last post, God showed me Himself and His glory through classical music. CLASSICAL MUSIC DREW ME TO HIM. Are there thousands flocking to Him through classical music? I don’t think anyone knows, probably not since there aren’t that many artists compared to the rest of society. BUT DID NOT JESUS LEAVE THE FLOCK FOR ONE SHEEP? Classical music can and does speak to artists all the time. It is one of the finest tools for this mission field.

    I am not saying that fine artists should be singled out to the exclusion of others. I am saying that the Church tends to ignore them at best and slam them at worst. KFUO, even with its’ unbelievable faults, revealed God’s beauty and glory through classical music, with the Holy Spirit guiding every note.

    Even someone on your own JTS board has said the following…

    ” (But) the Holy Spirit transcends the LCMS’ choice of staff. To claim that music ceases to be an implement of the Holy Spirit when presented by atheists would also blaspheme Holy Spirit. KFUO is not broadcasting “atheistic” music. It broadcasts good music — and very often music proclaiming the Gospel. Trust me, I am listening to KFUO-FM all the time, and the LCMS is not selling it because of the station’s atheistic management but because the LCMS has squandered piles of money and is intent on squandering more. This is what I find so reprehensible: The leadership of this church body is selling a tool of the Holy Spirit in order to make up for its own incompetence. (Uwe Siemon-Netto, comment made March 9, 2009, Center for Lutheran Theology, )

    Thank you for listening, Pastor. I hope we can find some common ground. I appreciate your willingness to take a stand for Christ.
    As a servant,
    C, CC, LCMS

  22. There is a FANTASTIC Christian-run classical station on the web. It is called “Ancient Faith Radio.” There’s only one problem: it’s intentionally Eastern Orthodox and in this it is rather a dangerous toy for Lutherans to play with. Ancient Faith Radio is a major outreach to disaffected evangelicals and it is drawing people into their churches with great effect.

    For years a few friends and I have dreamed of having the wherewithal and funding to make such a powerful idea into reality. There is MORE than enough content. But where or where is the congregation willing to call and fund pastors to do such work. As much as I’d love to pull it off in “my free time,” it would be a full time job for a team of 3-4 people.

    But truly, google “ancient faith radio” and give it a listen, and ask yourself, Why on earth aren’t we doing this? Why on earth DIDN’T we do this with KFUO FM? Why on earth does being Lutheran in America go hand in hand with being wise as doves and innocent as serpents?

    XD Seriously. I’d love to do it, and I could assemble a team in a matter of months.

  23. Sounds like a good project for a confessional men’s group that has in its charter the desire to support new Lutheran media!

    Let’s talk. You’ve got my number.


  24. Revfisk, oh thank you. Someone has heard my heart’s cry. Iwill take a listen to the station.

    I have read ‘Sham Pearl for Real Swine’ (by Franky Schaeffer who I believe became Orthodox, leaving evangelicalism soon after the writing of Sham Pearl) and loved it. Sort of feel like Schaeffer on this blog sometimes. 🙂

    Why don’t you assemble a team for a station like this in St. Louis? Can I help?

    So often in life we say, “Ready….Aim….Ready…..Aim…..Ready….Aim” but we never fire. What about saying, “Ready…….FIRE…….Aim?

    Thank you! Are you in LCMS or Orthodoxy?

  25. Revfisk:
    Aaaaaah. My spirit is becoming refreshed. I cannot thank you enough.

  26. @ CCMMOLCMS! I am a Pastor in the LCMS ( Though there are many laudable things among the Eastern Churches, I could not abandon the fullness of the Gospel even for good music and incense!

    I am not, however, in St. Louis, but in Philly, which makes organizing such a project as this quite a challenge. We are, shall we say, on the fringe and frontlines…

    So…enjoy the music…but please please please don’t believe the errors which the devotionals and prayers put forth. Rather, consider how you can encourage Lutheran Public Radio, SJS, et al to make such a project from a Lutheran ethos a part of their future strategic plans!

    @Dan Oh yes. But music is not PCR’s endeavor. If you look into AFR, their strength is having both a talk station and a music station. The music station does also involve devotional readings and prayer offices (which would be its strength if it were not tainted with so much works righteousness, mysticism and idolatry of the saints!) It is the music station that I believe we have the heritage for, yet have failed to embrace in a new-media way.

    I love Rosebrough, and have even tried to contact him about a half-hour spot on the station…he’s a busy man, I hear. XD

    @Tim Sure! XD

  27. revfisk :@ CCMMOLCMS! I am a Pastor in the LCMS ( Though there are many laudable things among the Eastern Churches, I could not abandon the fullness of the Gospel even for good music and incense!

    Not interested in leaving Lutheran circles. But now I’m hooked on the station. If ever in Philly expect a visit. (First attempt to insert a quote…if it didn’t work, sorry)

  28. Then enjoy, and pray for Ancient Grace Radio, or whatever it is Lutherans might one day come up with.

    pax Christi, and look forward to your visit! XD

  29. CGO, I am familiar with alcm and it’s great. I did check on PCR’s website, couldn’t find any music so, Dan, I appreciate your efforts in letting me know. Blessings to you both!

  30. I strongly agree with this resolution/motion. Pastoral education should be as free as possible. Make the Missouri Synod a very theologically educated church. This fits in nicely with Rev. Harrison’s call to have our seminaries “teach the faith and strengthen Lutheran communities all over the world in proclaiming the Gospel” (It’s Time).
    If guys get the education but prove not to have the ability to be pastors (for whatever reason) they will still be able to be an asset to the Church as a whole. Guys who have the desire but not the ability or the strength should not be penalized.
    And there are guys who were far better pastors than I who unjustly got removed from their churches. And they still have to pay off their seminary debt?
    Add to this the growing number of small churches…guys willing to serve them but their present bills and past seminary bills just adds stress that doesn’t help their congregation or them.

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