Helpful Information on the Status of the Seminaries in a Note from President Meyer to CSL Students

Dear Students,

A short e-mail to thank you for a good quarter!   After the recession’s stomach punch last year, I’m thankful…

  • That our Seminary is operating in the black;
  • That there’s a good spirit/Spirit to move the Savior’s mission forward through us;
  • That we’re looking at topics that will impact our futures in ministry, especially “Life Together.”

This is a unique place in the world and church, and I’m thankful for your positive contributions these past ten weeks.

As you have opportunity, please share the thanks of our Seminary community for the support (prayer support, encouraging words, and financial support) that so greatly helps us in our work of formation and mission.

And should the question come up about the future of LCMS seminaries…

Contrary to rumor, there is no offer from Washington University to buy our campus.

  • There is no proposal “on the table” to close or consolidate seminary campuses.   Yes, there is talk about such possibilities but it is not been put forward through established channels, not “on the table” but in the shadows.
  • In the next weeks I will send you an e-mail report about the recent Summit in Ft. Wayne on the future of theological education.
  • My time in the President’s Forum on December 2nd will be given to the rumors and realities about seminary futures.

I hope that you will enjoy a restful break.   Jesus led His disciples away from ministry into times of rest, and I invite you to get away with Him and your loved ones to a quiet place that you may rest (Mark 6:31).

Last but not least, coming from a guy who in some ways gets more scared the older I get: Please drive safely!

Dale A. Meyer

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.


Helpful Information on the Status of the Seminaries in a Note from President Meyer to CSL Students — 16 Comments

  1. Really in the Black. I am a doubting Thomas! Did Thrivent come thru again? I would like to see the books .

  2. If the seminary is in the black, it likely means the students are in a deep, crimson red.

    For the most part, when I was on campus (2005-2009), past letters informing students of the seminary operating in the black were never heavily celebrated, because those of us living on campus saw the bill for around $5,000 that arrived in each of our mailboxes every ten weeks.

    It’s good that finances are somewhat tamed now in light of the recent economic problems, but I understand that tuition was to be raised by 3% starting with the new academic year. I suppose that means the recession for students goes on, because the tuition grants only cover around 40-50% of the charges.

    Please keep all of this in your prayers!

  3. This week I was one of a group of CSL supporters meeting with President Dale Meyer. He reported on early retirements, layoffs, delayed projects and other decisions that have resulted in budget cuts of over 25 % compared to last year. While the sem budget ended in the red for last fiscal year, the most recent quarter is in the black. I don’t remember any mention of tuition increases. Dr. Meyer and others noted a decline in enrollments, which they suggest results from a decline in pre-sem enrollment at Concordia colleges. Hence, a move is under way to offer more theological classes at our colleges, not to replace the need for sems, but to engage students in theologic discourse and to promote interest in church work earlier in their education. Dr. Meyer also summarized the anticipated cost savings connected with future sharing of some course work and facilities with Fontbonne and Covenant, which Rev. Rossow has blogged elsewhere. As a grad and supporter, I encourage readers to contribute to CSL. Both sems depend on direct donors, receiving only 2% of budget from Synod funds. Due to bad market conditions, endowments are generating little income. CSL has a near critical need for non-designated funds to tackle some of the long-delayed maintenance issues. FYI, there is a $3 million matching grant offered that has a $1 million kicker. That is, if friends of the seminary can raise $3 million by June, a donor will add $4 million. (The recent Concordia Journal reports some of the same info). I suggest you call the Development Office if you want to help.

  4. Every professor over the age of 55 was offered voluntary early retirement. Here is the list of those who retired:

    Dr. Bacon
    Dr. Manteufel
    Dr. Rowold
    Dr. Warneck
    Dr. Wesselschmidt
    Dr. Wollenburg

    From what I recall, no professors were laid off.

    The 3% raise in tuition was discussed by President Meyer at the President’s Forum held at the start of the 2008-2009 Winter Quarter. I don’t know that the seminary typically highlights a raise in tuition, but I know he said it was planned for the current year.

    That’s some helpful information about fundraising, thanks for passing it on!

  5. I wonder what would happen to seminary enrollment if we eliminated the SMP and DELTO programs? I believe we cut off out nose to spite our face with those two programs.

  6. Regarding GK#5, It has been a couple of months ago that retirements were announced, I do not recall the names but I think Jack #6 is correct. there are a few more, eg Feuerhan and Brauer who took regular retirement. I know that some of the profs have been occasionally brought back to teach specific sections on an as-needed contract basis. The layoffs I mentioned I think were in staff and maintenance but I do not know specifics. Addressing Shirley G #6, most of the SMP students would not be attending resident training, so I don’t think their numbers would greatly affect enrollment. This should probably belong on another thread, but I encourage critics of the SMP curriculum to investigate the CSL or CTSFW websites to see exactly what course work is required from SMP students. I recognize teaching is offered in a different manner, information a bit more blended (cross-training?) and in a different order than my training, and not with every elective– but the student who follows the curriculum will end up with a more complete training than I first thought. I do not intend to be an SMP cheerleader. I am a supporter of resident education, and encourage the benefit of face to face interaction between students and prof. I disagree with the provisional Call the SMP sets up. Since the SMP student is officially considered a vicar, I also disagree with SMP students administering the sacrament, even if by District license. That being said, We have an SMP student in our circuit. i frequently ask him what he is studying and learning, and it is better education than most of the critics on this site acknowledge. Using computer technology there is actually more interaction than many of the lectures I attended, where brothers sat like disengaged bumps on a log, expressing a cooperate-to-graduate mindset, biding time until they could do their own thing. I find that just like those in my resident graduating class, much depends on the commitment of the student and the involvement of those who mentor him. The SMP does have levels of screening students built in. It is rumored that since the SMP is still in development, each District is still doing it’s own thing. Ask your circuit Counselor, District reps, and student mentors for the guidelines, and how they are set, and how they will be monitored.

  7. Kory,

    SMP training may be more complete than you thought but do a line by line comparison to the M Div. For instance, they take about half the Bible courses the M Div takes. They are also ordained (after half the program) with only three courses in Bible!!!

    The entire curriculum is basically 1/2 of the M Div program. They are half pastors by our training standards.

    The seminary professors sold out on the SMP program only because they saw it as the lesser of two evils – launch lay minister ordination programs apart from the seminary or do SMP. I am certainly happy that SMP’s are placed into a church order (ordained) but that is precious little satisfaction when by training standards they are half pastors. This is a silly thing for an institution to do. You cannot have this group of people who are required to have “x” amount of training and then you call them “a’s” and then at the same time have this group of people have one half of “x” training and also call them “a.” It defies logic and totally screws up the system.

    If we want to order them as something different than a pastor I suppose that could be done. Order them as deacons, but then of course they could not perform most pastoral functions and then those who are wishing to water down pastoral training (President Kieschnick and all his men) would not be satisfied because they would not accomplish their purpose of elevating practice over doctrine and finally leaving behind our grandfather’s church.


  8. The SMP is more “efficient”, and besides, they can sign up for PLI, then they’ll be half-pastors-full-leaders. Another couple years, they get TCN, and poof! They are half-pastor-full-leader-CEO’s. Now we’re cooking!!

  9. I took Rev. Boster’s advice and called Concordia Seminary to ask some questions.

    This is splitting hairs, but tuition RATES did not go up. The board instead, as part of cost-cutting, had to reduce the amount of general seminary financial aid awarded across the board by 3%. In exchange, it lifted the ceiling on how much a student could receive from the adoptastudent program. In the past, the most a student could receive from that program and other seminary aid was around $11,000. Now a student could potentially have his entire tuition funded by an adoptastudent donor. Other students, though, will see their costs go up because the institutional grant was reduced and there aren’t as many adoptastudent donors as there are students. To me that just meant that a student who is good at schmoozing could ride high on donations while other less congenial students go begging. Jack’s point is still valid. Some students are and will be swimming in red.

    While no faculty were laid off, service and professional staff were; others were reassigned and a couple may have accepted parttime positions. The counseling center was closed down and the post office/bank turned into a simple mail room. Some maintenance functions were outsourced. Open positions are not being filled. Repairs on buildings are on hold, like the second half of the dining hall conversion.

    These cuts, and the usual increase in donations toward the end of the calendar year, are behind the ‘in-the-black’ statement. So far there hasn’t been a ‘savior’ like Thrivent or a foundation who is putting up a big wad of money. Thrivent is almost out of matching money anyway. But donations usually off after December 31. So any surplus of cash the Seminary has built up will probably be burned off between January 1 and the end of their fiscal year which ends June 30. Another problem is that their endowment can’t release any money until it recovers the market value it lost in this recession. They are obligated by some law and a Board policy to put any earnings back into the endowment to make up the difference between what people originally gave and what the endowment is worth today.

    I also asked about SMP, which I don’t think is a good idea. While the training is different, and the full program takes longer than the four-or five-year residence program, SMP graduates are restricted in where they can be called. A guy filling an ethic or specialized ministry need can only go to a similar setting. He couldn’t receive or accept a call into a position he’s not trained for. The example was an SMP pastor learning in a rurual, small congregation setting in North Dakota couldn’t accept a call to a suburban mega church as a youth- or assistant pastor. If he wants to do that he has to go back to school to finish the courses needed for the full M.Div., which requires residency.

    I’m not defending the approach because there are still problems with the concept, but this is information I didn’t see here.

  10. Concerned,

    What an excellent comment! I may turn it into a post so everyone can benefit from your research.

    I would add this. Here is the dirty little secret that no one mentions about SMP. The idea is that it is “specific” but that need not be enduring. The placing District President can move the “pastor” anywhere they desire in their district, even disregarding their initial specific context. It gets worse. The “pastor” can also be moved to another district if both DP’s agree!

    So, this is really quite a ruse.


  11. Pastor Rossow,

    If it is okay with you I’d rather not see my words as a separate post because they belong in the context of this discussion.

    In looking back over my notes, I saw something that I should have included earlier. Most of the seminary’s endowment is apparently restricted by those who gave it to providing student aid, so something like two million dollars in grant assistance that is normally available just isn’t there right now. The rest of the endowment helped underwrite program and a couple of faculty positions. That is a lot of money that could have gone to students. Where is Dale Meyer supposed to go to find money to fill that hole? What if this was the money that would have balanced things out for students who don’t have benefactors?

    I didn’t know about the ‘dirty little secret’ in how SMP works. How disturbing. Maybe we need to elect some district presidents who have a bit more integrity.

  12. FYI-The SMP program will fill a vacancy in synod’s church planting plans. The synod has a goal of 1500 church plants by 2017, with over 500 or so completed The planting will be focused in the suburbs with some plants in rural areas’ inner cities doesn’t fit their model. Synod will dictact where these churches will be planted, with or without the input of districts. The churches will piggy back off of “source” churches that is know for it’s outgoingness and it’s proven ability to grow. Last year there were 13 seminarians b/w the 2 seminaries that “qualified” for the program. To qualify they took and passed the “personality profile” , which then made them eligible to go on to the next level of training. The program will also look to reqruit current ordained men already trained or who have the potential to be trained for planting. With just under 1000 churches to plant in under 8 years, the program will be looking to the SMP to complete their mission.

  13. TR, In the vain of snarky humor, do your comments in #10 suggest alternate route pastors are 3/4 pastors and PhDs are 2Xpastors? More to the point, my reading is that SMP moves are limited to similar type work within the District of initial Call, requiring ongoing mentoring unless completing course work as mentioned by Concerned #12. I have read quite a bit of the offical SMP info and would be interested to know a source for the dirty secrets you mention in #13; not challenging you, just interested in accumulating the facts. KB

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