“Pastor, Is Matt Harrison Good for Lutheran Schools?” by Pr. Rossow

Yesterday the Principal who serves our day school asked me that question. It’s a good question. Matt Harrison is supportive of Lutheran schools. I responded with three points.

First I told her that Matt Harrison is supportive of historic, traditional Lutheranism and that the Lutheran day school is one of the best ways to inculcate that historic Lutheran culture. In that first broad sense Matt Harrison is good for Lutheran schools.

Secondly, I told her that I knew personally that Matt Harrison worked hard to support the Lutheran day school when he was a pastor in inner city Ft. Wayne.

Thirdly, I told her that she did not need to take my word for it because I just read a blog post the other day from a woman who taught with him in Ft. Wayne and she speaks glowingly about his support for Lutheran schools.

The blogger who goes by the name “Ewe” on her Day by Day blog shares her personal experience as a teacher and working side by side with Matt Harrison as her pastor. Here are a few quotes from her blogpost:

Rev. Harrison was my pastor from 1996-2000 and his oldest son was in my first grade class at Zion Lutheran Academy, Fort Wayne. When you are a teacher at a dayschool, you see the pastor in all kinds of settings, maybe even more than the the other members of the congregation. He was truly concerned about our Academy not only surviving in inner city Fort Wayne, but also that it would succeed beyond expectations. He (along with our headmaster) made daily chapel a priority-how many Lutheran schools do you know that have chapel daily?

The students learned about the church year, hymns and liturgy and much more in this daily chapel.

Rev. Harrison could have easily given responsibility for the teachers and Academy to our headmaster. But Rev. Harrison found time in his busy schedule to often participate in faculty meetings and do other things at the school.
Rev. Harrison started a group at my request for singles older than college. We had Bible study, played volleyball, and had treats at this.

He is good for Lutheran schools because he has a track record of support. More importantly Matt Harrison is good for Lutheran schools because he supports traditional Lutheran culture. We pray that delegates next week in Houston will cast their votes for a man who supports one of our most important institutions, the Lutheran day school.

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.


“Pastor, Is Matt Harrison Good for Lutheran Schools?” by Pr. Rossow — 10 Comments

  1. Pastor Harrison put his own kids through our day school at our liturgical church. His family was very supportive of the school.

  2. LCMS Lutheran grade schools are a great way to immerse children in traditional Lutheran doctrine on a daily basis. That was my personal experience attending kindergarden through eighth grade. But that was many years ago. I would like to think that the grade schools encourage students to remain lifelong Lutherans after graduation. How effective are Lutheran grade schools in teaching confessional, Lutheran doctrine. Has Ablaze! weakened the effectiveness of a Lutheran education at some schools?

  3. Jim,

    I would agree that LCMS schools have been affected by the Ablaze mindset but not as much as the church in general. I also believe that even Ablaze affected kids graduating from Lutheran schools have more of an inborn sense of Lutheran identity that can be capitalized upon in later years. Is it perfect – far from it, but overall, I would say that Lutheran schools are in better shape than the overall church.


  4. Where but by the attendance at Luth. grade schools would I or WE have ever learned many many of our greatest hymns which I elude to so many times . Yes I have much Bible verses in my memory, but the hymns I turn to so much for my many prayers and praise to my Savior. I might add this our new hymnal has given us even more hymns to become acquainted with in OUR older years.

  5. @Jim #2

    The LCMS elementary/middle schools are an unbelievable asset and may be a bit of a hidden gem. Even the big power / money (losing) / change agent guys have mostly known not to mess directly with our children (though my daughter was very very impressed with Rev. K’s office on a field trip …). Too bad they are not afraid to mess with our worship experience.

    It is possible the schools are a little heavy on ‘service’ teaching (who is serving whom?) but this is tricky with children anyway, isn’t it? Some of them might be light on teaching MO synod history. Many of them use mostly secular curricula where I wish they would be more creative, especially in science and social studies.

    But they are inculcating children with incredibly strong habits and values in hard work, discipline, every kind of good habit, learning, Scripture memory, excellence of all kinds, regular worship, and more things I am sure I am leaving out. Our schools are probably much more uniform than our worship services! Our schools are a place where a child will know he/she is loved by his/her teachers – not something that is always experienced in government schools any more, especially after the primary grades. Finally and most important: our schools are places where to be Lutheran/Christian is the expectation, with everything that goes with the Christian life being not only allowed but promoted. This alone makes them worth any price, versus the government schools.

    If there are any modern biases being taught I’d say look to the teachers’ colleges more than the synodical HQ, but of course they are tied. You will probably be frustrated if you attempt to challenge any of the biases, because the people you will be bringing the issues to were products of all that “inculcation” — but we should do so patiently, persistently, strongly and prayerfully.

  6. Pastor Rossow wrote: ” I also believe that even Ablaze affected kids graduating from Lutheran schools have more of an inborn sense of Lutheran identity that can be capitalized upon in later years.”

    The LCMS grade school where we plan on sending our children has a large percentage of non-Lutherans attending. Would students such as these acquire some form of Lutheran identity?

    Another reason why we want to send our children to LCMS schools is to get away from the public school curricula: Social activist agendas, “new” math, endless standardized tests, etc. Of course I expect the curriculum to be Christ-centered as much as possible. Hopefully, LCMS schools would have more discipline than private as well.

    I do hope that LCMS schools can remain different than the public schools. How are LCMS schools influenced by secular curricula? Is it even possible to find a textbook that does not have content that conflicts with LCMS doctrine?

    Sumbody – After all these years, I still remember:

    “…..The sea is His, and He made it;
    And His hands formed the dry land.
    Oh, come let us worship and bow down;
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker
    For He is our God
    And we are the people of His pasture
    And the sheep of His hand.”

    LCMS grade schools are a great tool for mission work. I wish they were more common in my part of the state. Would a president Harrison encourage not just church plants, but LCMS grade school plants?

  7. Jim,

    I can’t speak for Pastor Harrison to your last question specifically but I can say that his support of a traditional Lutheran ethos will be good for all things Lutheran, including day schools.


  8. @ sumbody #4

    Ditto, about the hymns.
    I might add, if it hadn’t been for my Lutheran school years, I’m not sure I would have returned to church after a lengthy absence as an adult.

  9. Thanks to all of you! I am always singing or whistling thanks and praise! And I owe it to the Luth grade school!

  10. Although I have LSB & LW at home, TLH is what I pull out for devotions. Keep one in the car as well. Never know when you can pull it out and use it.

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