Invitation to Concordia St. Louis to Learn More about their Spiritual Formation Program, by Pr. Rossow

Dr. Dale Meyer, president of Concordia Seminary St. Louis, has graciously invited me to the campus to learn more about the spiritual formation program at the seminary. This is the umbrella program under which the small groups have been started. I look forward to what we both intend to be a fraternal get-together. Dr. Meyer is also interested in bringing Dean Burreson and other members of the faculty into the discussions. That is a really good thing. I will keep you posted.

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.

Comments

Invitation to Concordia St. Louis to Learn More about their Spiritual Formation Program, by Pr. Rossow — 66 Comments

  1. @48 John Clark

    How did any visitor ever find out such information in the days before there was a website at all? If you happen to be there, you ask someone if and when there might be a chapel service available for you to attend.

    I’m quite confident there is no ulterior motive or desire to make things difficult for visitors. And I’m guessing they don’t have the times of the early morning/late night services published because it simply didn’t occur to someone that a visitor to campus would care, since they aren’t at times visitors are generally present. I can say for myself that were I the webmaster, it probably wouldn’t have crossed my mind to post anything other than the primary chapel offering.

    And if the change to Tuesday is new, it’s probably just slipped their mind to make a change to the online scheduled. Shoot, it isn’t until I started typing this response that I thought about the fact that my own congregation might not have thought to add the our new Saturday evening service to the worship times on our website. (We haven’t.) Now that I’ve thought about it, I’ll let our webmaster know. But I’m not going to lose sleep over the idea that an interested potential visitor was denied the opportunity to worship with us one of the last 3 weeks.

    /can’t believe I just wrote this long of a response defending a school for not clearly informing the general public of times for something which 98% of the time only matters to students….

  2. @Norm Fisher #50

    Well, I find it interesting that Ft. Wayne is bold to find ways of promoting their identity as a seminary (and a theological seminary at that), while St. Louis selected a URL that places an emphasis on geography.

    @Rev. Jeremy Latzke #51

    Please bear in mind that I’m not the only one here who calls attention to a void of information on CSL’s website. I didn’t really even think about it until someone on another thread voiced frustration that CSL did not provide an announcement on the website about its change in chapel times, the dropping of more than one chapel service each quarter, and the rationale for small groups. Then someone else (I forget who) brought up Ft. Wayne’s numerous worship opportunities and yet a third person (an alumnus, I believe) mentioned the potential problem of visiting campus and not being able to worship. That got curious about CSL’s schedule of all weekly worship opportunities.

    Again, my point in preparing the long list was to summarize many of the concerns that have surfaced about CSL because of this one multi-thread discussion about small groups using SOAP and the canceling of chapel in favor of small groups.

    It goes back to something I raised in another discussion. St. Louis broke trust in the 70s and can’t seem to figure out how to restore the trust of faithful, confessional Lutherans. The trust issue comes up over and over and over on this blog and others. I don’t know; maybe the problem is in the stone and cement and wood that was used to build the place. Maybe there is some obscure vaporous gas emitted that clouds the theological minds of faculty and students.

    Then again, maybe the reputation it has and the reputation all of us tend to give it causes it to draw in a certain kind of student or faculty member attracted to these sorts of things, while the confessional students are drawn to Ft. Wayne because of its reputation. Self-fulfilling prophesy.

    My sincere hope is that Rev. Rossow is able to either get this list of concerns in front of Dale Meyer and have him take those concerns to heart, or that Rev. Rossow hears a sound and reasonable explanation that satisfies his/our concerns. My prayer is that all of this discussion has been much about nothing, and that we can all get to a point where we can trust both of our seminaries equally.

  3. John Clark :
    CSSL = Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. Does the S represent “Seminary” or “Saint”? Concordia St. Louis (how do I know it’s a seminary), or Concordia Seminary, Louis?
    Others have used CTSFW = Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, which to me is very clear.

    John,

    Rejoice that you even get the “SL.” Back when I attended (e-mail getting more popular, web browsing was almost unheard of, AOL had just launched – and nearly choked to death with all of the traffic generated on the night of the Presidential election), we simply referred to it as THE Concordia. All others came after us, so it was up to them to distinguish themselves. 🙂

    Does the seminary not want visitors to attend? Does it desire to be a closed (monastic?) community? They built a beautiful facility. Why not make it easy for others to participate in this part of the community’s life?

    There is a “yes and no” aspect to the answer to your question. As mentioned on this thread many times before, the Seminary chapel is not a congregation. There is a sense in which the chapel services are intended for the rather well defined community of the Seminary – students, faculty, spouses, (and sometimes staff – someone must man the phones in the offices during that time). One sermon while I was at Seminary highlighted the rather specialized makeup of our community: the preacher began his sermon on an reading from one of the Pastoral Epistles with the salutation, “Pastors, Would-be Pastors, and (since this is the first day of the Spring Preview Weekend) Might-be-Would-be-Pastors.”

    Guests who are known to be visiting the Seminary at that time are also invited. When they book their group visit to the Seminary through the Events Office, they are informed of Chapel times that will be occurring on the day of their visit and asked if they want to adjust their schedule so that they can attend. That’s the “no, it doesn’t want to be separate” part.

    Sometimes people might perceive attendance at the Seminary Chapel as a “prestige” thing. If I had a nickel for every call the Seminary switchboard receives asking when the Sunday morning services are, I could retire. If I had a dollar for every person who gets upset at the switchboard operator who tells them they can’t attend services at the Seminary on Sunday (or Christmas Eve, or Good Friday or Easter…), I could probably buy Microsoft. Another way this manifests itself is the use of the chapel building for weddings or other special events. The Seminary strongly encourages people/congregations to conduct weddings or other special services at their home congregations. The original policy (I don’t know if it has changed in the past decade and a half) was that NO ONE could even think about having a wedding in the chapel unless they were a member of the Seminary community (student, faculty, staff or their children), and even then, this was discouraged though a huge usage fee (back in the mid-90s it was $500 for students, $1000 for all others). There are some things, like regular worship, which are most appropriate in one’s home congregation, at one’s family altar, and within the community to which one belongs. So, by encouraging “home” attendance, there is some aspect of “yes, we want to be separate” in the structure of the worship life of the Seminary community. They aren’t trying to hide anything. They aren’t trying to be elitist or separatist. They are trying to discourage substituting the Seminary for your local congregation.

  4. @PPPadre #53

    …someone must man the phones…

    When I was an undergred, the only person answering phones at admin during chapel was the switchboard operator, and I didn’t have many calls. People knew; chapel was on the radio.
    These days we have voice mail. Profs and staff could encourage chapel attendance by being there, as our profs did.

    [I had a friend in audio who arranged chapel by phone for me.]

  5. @Seriously (post #1).

    Why keep quiet about it? What are you afraid of? The fact that President Meyer invited Pastor Rossow to Saint Louis indicates you are afraid of us confessionals. Are you angry because the Church Growth Movement at Concordia Saint Louis has been exposed? I want a confessional Lutheran pastor, and not a Joel Osteen/Rick Warren/Rob Bell methobaptocostal “Lutheran in name only” fraud.

  6. Kebas :
    Just look at this typical week of chapel services at Ft. Wayne: http://www.ctsfw.edu/Document.Doc?id=501
    St. Louis needs to completely revamp their chapel program more along these lines.

    Um, pardon my thickheadedness, but why would you need to “completely revamp” something if that’s what it already looks like?

    A week at Fort Wayne (per the link you provided): Mon. – DS2 (abbreviated), Tues. – Morning Prayer (altered), Wed. – Service of Prayer and Preaching, Thurs. – Responsive Prayer 2, Fri. – Matins (abbreviated).

    A week at St. Louis:

    Concerned Seminarian :
    The Communion services are necessarily somewhat abbreviated to fit the Seminary’s schedule, but they don’t always use the same setting. Other services vary between Matins, Morning Prayer, Service of Prayer and Preaching, and services based around one of the responsive prayers.

    So, an abbreviated setting of the Divine Service, daily prayer offices and/or sufferages… at both seminaries… hmmm. Not seeing much to revamp there.

    If, by “completely revamp,” you mean “provide resources online,” OK – perhaps they could/should. But if the tradition has continued from when I was at St. Louis, they don’t put together such a fancy handout for the weekly services. They use a “green technology” known as a hymnboard to provide the page numbers for the litugies, psalms and hymns used during the service. I am presuming that it is still in use, since I saw a new bracket for mounting the hymnboard when I visited for the Installation of Synodical officers (new, at least, since my last visit a couple of years ago).

    So, what is it that you mean by “completely revamp”?

  7. Look again at the bulletins for the week from Ft. Wayne and note:

    –They follow the church year by observing St. Luke’s Day (with Communion that day because it is a festival).

    –There is a systematic, planned program for the week (provided in advance) using five different liturgies and a variety of other resources from Lutheran Service Book. At St. Louis, as a former sacristan noted above, his suggestion of such a deliberate pattern was declined, and the form of the service each day is haphazard, whatever the preacher happens to want.

    –Out of five services, the worship is enriched by a cantor on one day, and choirs on two other days, singing selections by Lutheran composers Bunjes and Pachelbel.

    –Listen online also to the dignified manner in which the services are conducted.

    This is using the chapel experience deliberately to introduce a variety of worship materials and inculcate into the students good worship practices. From my observatsions, all of this is to some extent lacking in the St. Louis chapel program.

  8. @Kebas #58

    1.) St. Louis follows the Church year, just listen to the sermon podcasts. I will concede that St. Louis follows a “systematic, planned program for the week” by retaining their celebration of Holy Communion on a particular day of the week and they don’t change it around based on what Feast Days might fall during that week.

    2.) What evidence do you have that the Ft. Wayne preachers do not select the orders of service for the chapel services in which they preach? You have provided us with one week’s orders of service. Is Service of Prayer and Preaching done every Wednesday, or does it move around “haphazardly” to different days of the week? The primary reason that the “form of the service each day is… whatever the preacher happens to want” is that the amount of the liturgy used was heavily dependent on how long the preacher would preach. The Dean would offer suggestions as to what liturgy would be appropriate for a given day, but ultimately it was up to the preacher to determine how much liturgy accompanied the proclamation in a given service. What is your evidence that this is not also the manner that this is done at Ft. Wayne? At St. Louis, chapel services were planned out well in advance (3 months ahead of time), although some minor modifications were sometimes made as the day approached. And if you know Matins, Morning Prayer, Service of Prayer and Preaching and Sufferages, does it make any difference that on one week you pray Matins on Tuesday and on another you pray it on Friday? Because of varying class schedules and limited on-campus housing, some students aren’t on campus certain days of the week for chapel. Should they continually miss out on the “chapel experince” “deliberately introduc[ing] a variety of worship materials” because certain liturgies are only done on the days they are not on campus?

    3.) So the cantors and choirs and brass instrumentalists and strings at St. Louis don’t enrich the worship? Or do they just not count because you don’t have a document that you can download from the internet that says they enrich the worship?

    4.) Do you mean to imply that the services at St. Louis are not dignified? Or are you again expressing dismay that you cannot get the entire chapel service online from the St. Louis Sem? I am inferring from your comment that you believe the services at St. Louis are not dignified. On what do you base that assertion? What services at St. Louis have you attended that weren’t conducted in a dignified manner? What were the responses of the preacher, liturgist, musicians, and/or Dean when you expressed that concern to them?

    Concerned Seminarian at Comment #23 asked how frequently you have attended chapel services at St. Louis. I have not seen your reply to this question. Since you have made some rather pointed indictments of the chapel program “from [your own] observatsions” [sic], you must attend quite frequently. So I will ask the question again (and broaden it a little), how frequently do you attend the services at St. Louis? What is the basis of your “observatsions” [sic] that the St. Louis chapel program is “lacking”? You have done a sufficient job of supporting the excellence of the program at Ft. Wayne, but have provided little evidence that there is any substantive difference between the two other than Ft. Wayne does a better job of publishing things on the internet.

  9. @Kebas and PPPadre #s 57-58

    One of the biggest differences I noted between the two seminaries during my discernment process was the chapel schedule.

    As PPPadre has noted the main midday chapel service schedule looks much a like. What weighed in favor of FW in my decision was the additional services around that

    http://ctsfw.edu/Page.aspx?pid=420

    PPPadre, “2.) What evidence do you have that the Ft. Wayne preachers do not select the orders of service for the chapel services in which they preach?”
    While I was there preachers were assigned and given 2 texts for the liturgical day to choose from, all this at the beginning of each academic quarter, then they were allowed to select the hymn. The services are set within the weekly schedule. major feasts would shift the DS from Wed to w/e day of the Feast.

  10. I had prepared a longish answer earlier this week and then there was a browser hiccup and it was all lost. Admittedly I visited there only about six times so far this year. Each time I was disappointed. Twice they ignored major feast days that fell that day. There was never any special music. There was never any liturgy other than Repsonsive Prayer I or II, which are fine but what about Matins, Morning Prayer, etc.? The conduct of the service was haphazard, not the best model for future pastors.

    Better than me commenting further would be to ask if there are any current seminarians who could comment:

    On a typical week at St. Louis would you have, like this week at Ft. Wayne (http://www.ctsfw.edu/Document.Doc?id=501):

    –Divine Service II, Morning Prayer, Matins, Service of Prayer and Preaching, and Reponsive Prayer II, all in one week, and except for the latter all fully chanted?

    –Special music for three out of five services in one week, a cantor one day, and on two days choirs singing works by the likes of Bunjes and Pachelbel?

    –A complete, organized program for the week, as reflected in the above linked bulletin?

  11. @Fr. Daniel #45
    Did you even read the post to which I was responding?
    Kebas :</strongThe chapel services seem very haphazardly planned and conducted, as versus what I listen to over the Internet from Ft. Wayne. St. Louis now has a gorgeous gothic cathedral but they are still stuck in “auditorium” mode, with “chapel” that is more like a college or even high school than what we should expect at one of our seminaries. Where is the rhythm of the church year? Where is the systematic use of the variety of liturgies and other resources from Lutheran Service Book? Where is the rich musical feast of cantors, choirs, and instrumentalists that you hear almost daily from Ft. Wayne? I don’t understand why St. Louis has such an uninspiring chapel program.

    If you read that, then you can see why I mentioned the wide array of liturgies (all taken from or adapted from the Lutheran Service Book) which are in use in CSL Chapel Services.

    Fr. Daniel :@Concerned Seminarian #23
    <PWhat is needed is LESS VARIETY, LESS SETTINGS; IDENTIFIABLE, NAMED PRAYER OFFICES THAT CAN BE HANDED DOWN GENERATION AFTER GENERATION.

    Do you mean named prayer offices like Matins or the slightly more musical version thereof called Morning Prayer? Because we use those. We also use “IDENTIFIABLE, NAMED PRAYER OFFICES” like Responsive Prayer I/II and Service of Prayer and Preaching (both of which follow the same pattern as Matins and Morning Prayer in general terms).
    Here’s the bare-bones Matins/Morning Prayer service (working from memory):
    1. Versicles
    2. Psalm Canticle
    3. Readings
    4. (Sermon)
    5. Psalm
    6. Hymn
    7. Prayer
    8. Benedictus and Benediction

    Here’s roughly what the service looks like when the service is “Allowing “Preachers of the Day” to construct whatever type of “service/office” they wish”:
    1. Readings
    2. Sermon
    3. Psalm
    4. Hymn
    5. Prayer
    6. Benedictus and Benediction

    Remarkably similar, don’t you think?

  12. @PPPadre #59

    PPPadre :@Kebas #58
    1.) St. Louis follows the Church year, just listen to the sermon podcasts. I will concede that St. Louis follows a “systematic, planned program for the week” by retaining their celebration of Holy Communion on a particular day of the week and they don’t change it around based on what Feast Days might fall during that week.

    For the record, Dean Burreson has said that he will take advantage of the 11:00 Chapel time to change the communion date a couple times during the school year to have it on high feast days (Michaelmas, for one), but that is by far the exception, not the rule.

  13. Kebas :I had prepared a longish answer earlier this week and then there was a browser hiccup and it was all lost. Admittedly I visited there only about six times so far this year. Each time I was disappointed. Twice they ignored major feast days that fell that day. There was never any special music. There was never any liturgy other than Repsonsive Prayer I or II, which are fine but what about Matins, Morning Prayer, etc.? The conduct of the service was haphazard, not the best model for future pastors.
    Better than me commenting further would be to ask if there are any current seminarians who could comment:
    On a typical week at St. Louis would you have, like this week at Ft. Wayne (http://www.ctsfw.edu/Document.Doc?id=501):
    –Divine Service II, Morning Prayer, Matins, Service of Prayer and Preaching, and Reponsive Prayer II, all in one week, and except for the latter all fully chanted?
    –Special music for three out of five services in one week, a cantor one day, and on two days choirs singing works by the likes of Bunjes and Pachelbel?
    –A complete, organized program for the week, as reflected in the above linked bulletin?

    @Kebas #60
    If you’ve read anything I wrote, you would be able to tell that I’M A CURRENT SEMINARIAN AT CONCORDIA SEMINARY ST. LOUIS!!!!!!!!!
    To answer your questions:
    – Dr. Burreson said earlier this year (or last yer, I can’t remember) that minor festivals are for private devotion, not corporate chapel. We do celebrate festivals in some way, shape, or form (usually in the Prayers of the Church)
    – By your comment, I can tell you’ve never been to chapel on a Monday, because (the first 2 weeks excepted) we always use the full service of Matins or Morning Prayer on those days. I can also tell you haven’t been to a Communion service on Thursdays, since the Seminary Choir sings at least twice during Communion services (again, the first couple weeks excepted, if my memory serves).
    – What is your definition of haphazard? Every pastor commits liturgical sins, hence why there is Confession and Absolution. Some “haphazard”-ness might be because not every liturgist performs the same genuflections. For example, Dr. Burreson is the only reader I can remember who makes the sign of the cross over his head, mouth, and heart before reading the Gospel.
    – During a typical week of chapel services, you will see the following: Matins/Morning Prayer, Responsive Prayer I/II, Service of Prayer and Preaching, Divine Service I/II/III/IV/V, “Service of Prayer and Preaching”.
    – During a typical month of chapel services, you will hear the following: Brass Choir (once or twice), Seminary Choir (at least four times), Chapel Band (yes, yes, I know, “they’re heretics” and all that) (probably once). There may also be other outside groups who come in (Lutheran professional musicians, etc.). We also have a Handbell Choir and a couple other vocal groups. Additionally, we have quite a few organists who perform, some of them with instrumental soloists.
    – I can’t speak to the last one, since I’m not Dr. Burreson, but there is a normal pattern to the chapel services:
    – Monday: Matins or Morning Prayer
    – Tuesday: Preaching on Malachi
    – Wednesday: Preaching on the texts for the week (I think)
    – Thursday: Communion, Preaching on the texts for the following Sunday
    – Friday: Preaching using the Homiletical Help for the following Sunday

  14. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Matins/Morning Prayer is, in fact, fully chanted by student liturgists. Communion services are, too, assuming that the presider is as musically gifted as Dr. Eric Herrmann. I’m not entirely sure how you chant the service of prayer and preaching (chant the sermon? chant the prayers?), but we use at least one, if not both, of the OT/NT Canticles (as well as a hymn).

  15. @Concerned Seminarian #64

    I have a couple of other questions for you regarding worship life at my old alma mater, but this thread has already gone too far off on this tangent and my questions are more matters of curiosity. Would you mind contacting me off list?

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