Wenthe to retire

I’m hearing that Dean Wenthe, president of Concordia Theological Seminary, has told faculty that he is retiring. Further announcements are forthcoming.

Things are going to get going pretty quickly. A search committee has been formed by the faculty.

I’m not entirely sure on the process, so please weigh in with clarifications and corrections, but presumably the call for nominations will be in the next Reporter. That has to be held open for 60 days and I think nominations must come from congregations. And then there is a crazy process of voting involving the search committee, the CTSFW’s Board of Regents, the Synodical President’s office, etc. So perhaps we’ll know more by May?

This is a very important position that requires someone to have a particularly unique balance of skills — theologically sound and a solid administrator as well as effective with donors and other communities. We’ve been blessed with good seminary presidents and I pray that we continue that tradition.


Wenthe to retire — 39 Comments

  1. Theologically sound, solid administrator, good with donors. Sounds like a job for Pastor Wilken! (OK so maybe Craig is the solid administrator at Lutheran Public Radio.)

  2. I would say that respect from the faculty would also be a key qualification. That is a tricky one. The Fort has been blessed in recent history with such. Robert Preus had respect because of his strong leadership. Dean Wenthe had respect from the faculty because he was one of them and is such a genuine person and a great listener. It should be interesting.


  3. I nominate Dr. Daniel L. Gard for the position, and my nomination is worth the paper this is printed on.

  4. I think a great choice would be Rev. John Fiene from Advent Lutheran Church in Zionsville, IN. He is an orthodox theologian, strong leader and a mission planter. He is a parish pastor and a great speaker with much energy.

    As a CTSFW grad, I would also nominate Dr. Carl Fickenscher from the faculty. He is admired by many of his students and should have received the call to be Lutheran Hour Speaker. Strong leader (Editor of Concordia Pulpit, placement director and holds an MBA), orthodox, great speaker, respected by nearly all camps, etc.

  5. I’ll second Dr. Fickenshur’s nomination… not that anyone will ask me! 🙂
    There will surely be a faculty committee to confer with the SP on this one.

  6. First, a huge thank you to God for the faithful work of President Wenthe.

    Second, let us pray for all those involved in the process to call the next President.

    Third, my personal prayer is that we buck the trend that we see all too often in the church and that the next President of CTS be primarily a theologian and not primarily a fund raiser.

  7. Pr. Fiene would be excellent, but probably would not be considered because he doesn’t have the academic qualifications.

  8. @Rev. Clint K. Poppe #7
    “my personal prayer is that we buck the trend that we see all too often in the church and that the next President of CTS be primarily a theologian and not primarily a fund raiser.”

    I could not agree more with Pastor Poppe’s statement. There is one thing I would add. Dr. Preus was noted for being a friend of the student. When I first arrived on campus at CTSFW I noted that you would often find him sitting with students during lunch. He loved to be with his students. A love for theology and the students with whom the seminary is responsible for training should be at the top of the list for any future president.

  9. A seminary president has to be all the things that have been noted. Like it or not, that includes fundraiser and public advocate. In order to do that, the seminary president must be a man who inspires trust.

  10. Lawrence Rast, current Academic Dean, should be the front runner. Scholarly, pastoral, administrator, very Lutheran.

  11. I believe the voting process includes 5 votes: 1. Board of Regents 2. C.O.P. 3. Faculty 4. Search Committee 5. The District President.

    Let us be mindful that the false church among us will want desperately to have their man in place that will turn Fort Wayne into the Non-Denominational training center it has always wanted.

    Or to shut down Fort Wayne altogether, although with the present Administration in place at The Purple Palace this will be next to impossible.

    But make no mistake, if the false church cannot get a man totally fanatic they will settle for someone who will not “contend for he faith….” (Jude ), and this is just as bad for the Church as instead of a quick death of the Seminary it will be a slow one of increments and probably the best one for the fanatics in the LCMS.

  12. I’m too far out in the boondocks to know who would be qualified, but I would make one recommendation. I’d suggest the next Sem. Pres.(and more of the faculty) have more experience as a full time parish pastor, not just a few years in parish ministry while really spending most of his time working on his next degree, not as a military chaplain, and not just as a part time assistant pastor.

  13. Dr. Scott Murray not only has the academic qualifications and was elected a Vice-President of Synod, but most importantly he is a faithful, long-serving parish Pastor of a congregation which has thrived under his shepherding. THAT is what is needed most in, and is the overriding qualification for, a seminary President. So I believe we should give Dr. Murray a demotion–from parish Pastor to seminary President.

  14. I pray fundraising ability should have the same weight of consideration as the quality of their golf game. Do you not believe the Lord provides? He calls us to be faithful. Period. I pray the new President is faithful.

  15. Dr. Scott Murray is a great choice as well!

    The Rev John Fiene has more than enough theological prowess to make up for the lack of possessing a PhD. which to me means very little. He is a very very strong leader and has the back bone needed in a position which can sometimes change a man when money from certain donors is dangling in front of them. Donors who may not support the institution for the reality of what Robert Preus made it.

  16. One of the ways that the Lord provides is by giving us a man who inspires the trust of the general public which in turn leads people trust the seminary with their money.

  17. Rev. John Fiene does have an honorary doctorate from CTS, so they would totally have to recognize him as academically qualified.

    That being said, I am opposed to his nomination because I really don’t want to go to Fort Wayne to visit my folks.

  18. While the names listed above are outstanding, and I would endorse them, I would submit the name of Dr. Charles Gieschen–a brilliant (!) scholar, and–more importantly–a pastor.

  19. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I am not going to mention whom I would prefer, because I have too many friends (all perfectly qualified) that would be excluded if I picked one or two.

    Generally, for this position, you want someone who has years of experience as a seminary professor (full-time), some experience as a pastor (at least a few years full-time), a real academic degree (Ph.D. or Th.D. or equiv.), and some seminary administrative experience. Those are the objective qualifications. The subjective qualifications depend on what the Board of Regents intends for this man to do be doing in the next five to fifteen years.

    Objective qualifications reduce all possible contenders to seventeen men, any of whom would do a good job, and I think a faithful-to-the-Scriptures-and-Confessions job. Only “Professor” rank faculty from both seminaries should be considered. The following are all the men who presently have full professor rank and are not retired or on the verge of retiring: Charles Arand, Andrew Bartelt, Jeff Gibbs, Glenn Nielsen, Paul Raabe, Victor Raj, Bob Rosin, Jim Voelz, Robert Weise, Dan Gard, Charles Gieschen, Art Just, Cameron Mackenzie, Lawrence Rast, Klaus Schulz, and William Weinrich. That makes sixteen. I don’t think I missed anyone. If so, I welcome a correction.

    I would also add the seventeenth: JAO Preus III, who served well as a professor at the Saint Louis seminary, as a president at Irvine, and now as Executive Director at Bethesda. Other university presidents, to my knowledge, have not had the experience as seminary professors that would qualify them.

    Looking at those seventeen, I have to say that we are really blessed as a synod, to have so many excellent choices. These are the men that are leading our seminaries and producing our pastors. They are all dedicated to Scriptural inerrancy, the doctrine of the Lutheran confessions, and have a sincere commitment to the pastoral ministry and our church. Compared to other periods in our church, we are living in a golden era of seminary training (just look at the production of the Concordia Commentary series!).

    I also must say that the president has to be up to the challenge and the work involved. There is a lot of travel, a lot of visit to major donors, a lot of stress (putting down fights inside; protecting from threats outside), and the wife has to agree, too, since there are a few unspoken expectations about her role.

    I want to commend President Wenthe for a superb job–well done, good and faithful servant! He can now resume a normal life of teaching students, writing journal articles, reviewing books, and writing his own books on ideas and topics he has worked on throughout his career. I hope that he sticks around in Fort Wayne to continue to give wise and genial guidance, as he has done throughout his career.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  20. >>some experience as a pastor (at least a few years full-time) . . . Only “Professor” rank faculty from both seminaries should be considered.

    I respectfully but strongly disagree. This reminds me several years ago of a conversation I had with a prominent confessional. He opined that while Rev. Harrison had many good qualities, only a District President should be considered for the position of President because the paramount need was for an experienced, excellent administrator–and he indicated that though he disagreed theologically with the incumbent, with whom he worked closely, he was a stellar administrator. I replied that our greatest need was for theological leadership and a pastoral perspective, and I felt that the recent transformation of the President into primarily a bureaucratic administrator was the problem.

    Likewise, to lead the seminary in preparing Pastors what we need IS a Pastor–not just with “some experience” or “at least a few years full-time” but someone who has devoted his LIFE to the pastoral ministry.

  21. @Kebas #24

    Dear Kebas,

    Thanks for your comments. I have appreciated your experience in synodical matters. It shows in the comments you have made on other posts, assuming there is only one Kebas. 🙂

    I was intentionally vague about the numbers of years served, in full-time capacity, as: parish pastor, professor, seminary administrator. If you require too many years for any “hat,” it might knock out someone who is really the best qualified for the job.

    Some of our seminary professors have had minimal parish experience, not because they didn’t want to serve, or are not committed to pastoral ministry, but because when the seminary called them they were really the ONLY person, by a wide margin, who could fill the slot vacated. When the synod “called,” they answered that call, even though they might have preferred to stay in the parish. It is not fair to penalize such professors, because they accepted the synod’s call. Blame the synod’s officers who called them, if you don’t like the situation.

    Walther has some good comments about that somewhere, to the effect, that when the church needs the PARTICULAR talents that you have, even though you would rather stay where you are, you should go. That is how the church gets access to its “gifts” (1 Cor 12:1-11). By the way, number of years of service in the parish ministry is more important in certain theological disciplines than others.

    I have agreed with resolutions passed by the synod, in the last decade, which require a minimal number of years in parish ministry before ANY man becomes a seminary professor. Unfortunately, the seminary administrators and Regents have not always followed this rule. I can understand why they have not followed that rule. Here is why.

    Congregations are, with very rare exceptions, not supportive of their pastors being involved in academic training or academic pursuits. Of course, that makes sense! Such pursuits takes the man away from his real work. But everyone wants seminary professors who have the highest and most prestigious academic degrees, because it makes our synod stronger and more robust in the areas of theology and pastoral ministry. But where are those seminary professors going to come from, if congregations are not supportive of their work in their formative years. It is a “Catch-22” situation, and that is why the seminary administrators and Regents often call men with little parish experience.

    Personally, my opinion is that God has given his gifts to the church in a variety of ways (again, I Cor 12:1-11). To most clergy, their gifts are suited best to parish ministry. To some, their gifts are best suited in specialized work, like missions, chaplaincy, or campus ministry. To a few, their gifts are best suited to teaching and academic work that supports the work of the church. None of those gifts are higher than the other.

    For me, the key issue is: 1) does the seminary professor have at least some FULL-TIME parish experience that he can draw from and relate to; and most important: 2) does the seminary professor really want to be a player in academia and all the prestige that goes with it, or does he really want to serve the church with his gifts. These things are better indicators of suitability for office than a large, fixed numerical requirement.

    Thanks for your always insightful comments!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  22. Bright young men, who DID manage to earn a Doctorate are currently at leisure [CA], in ELDoNA, or doing something unrelated to their call and ordination.
    [Theologians haven’t gotten much respect for some time in LCMS.]

  23. But I’ll agree with “Kebas” that Dr. Scott Murray could do the job.
    Houston will be sadly short of confessional Lutheran Pastors, if he should move, though.

  24. With most professors who take ‘contracts’ and are not ‘called’, how does this effect the present situation of looking for a man who is confessional?

  25. Since we are now in an ELDoNA parish, I should probably keep my mouth (mouse?) shut; but I have some emotional attachment to The Fort. There have been several posts stating that it’s unfortunate that the sem presidents are primarily fundraisers. While I certainly agree, this is the consequence of synod providing pocket-change to the sems in support of them.

    Blessings to Dr. Wenthe as God moves this loving man in Christ to his next chapter.

  26. Just because a man is retired doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t consider this particular call. What about Hal Senkbiel? He was one of the first names that popped into my head. Wallace Schulz would also be an intriguing possibility although he doesn’t have experience as a sem. prof that I’m aware of, but it lets the imagination go a little, don’t it? 🙂

  27. @boogie #29

    What is sad is this reminds me of other social ills. First is to get tolerance, then acceptance, followed by equlaity, if not promotion/premier status. In relation to the seminaries, I would argue that the seminaries are about the most important thing synod can do, followed closely by the other CU’s. Yet we have strangled them for funds, as though they are bastard children we do notwant. So along comes PLI, which people in Christian News write about it wanting to become a “third seminary.” And why not, in so far as trying ot get RSO status, and they are a self funding unit, just like St. Louis and Fort Wayne. About on the same footing in some regards.

    So are we going to be like Luther and the Confessors? Our symbols say what we stand for, AND WHAT WE REJECT. Why do we have to follow liberal theology where we can’t say “no” to anything? Devotions have been made about God say, “yes, no, not right now, yes but different.” Or how about efficaacy? Do we mean and do all that we say? Do our actions follow our words? Do we value education, preparing shepherds for the world? Or do we just let whatever sheep go out amongst the wolves, praying (expecting? demanding?) God’s extraordinary (magivcal?) protection for their success and safety?

    Than you Pres. Wenthe for your tireless effort in preparing our young (and not so young) men. May God bless our endeavors as we search for another to faithfully continue the Lord’s work.

  28. >>does the seminary professor really want to be a player in academia and all the prestige that goes with it

    From my perspective, beginning at least several decades ago there was an increasing emphasis on academic requirements for seminary professors vs. actual pastoral experience, which I think is a VERY big mistake–ultimately even a fatal mistake for the seminaries and the holy ministry in the LCMS.

    For preparing pastors we need men with long-term pastoral experience. But many men go straight from an M.Div. to graduate school to teaching, maybe doing a little bit of cursory pastoral duties part-time in the process. In my opinion such men should be excluded from being professors or holding other positions at the seminaries until they first have significant, long-term, full-time pastoral experience. I’d much rather have an experienced pastor as seminary president even without an advance academic degree, than an academic without real pastoral experience–though we are blessed with many men with both qualifications.

    By the way, Dr. Noland, I would certainly include you among those highly qualified, both academically and pastorally. Of course, some might say it didn’t work out too well the last time we had a seminary president with a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary . . . 🙂

  29. I am thinking that the advanced degrees has more to do with the accrediting association for theological schools than a desire to get said degree.

  30. @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #33
    I am thinking that the advanced degrees has more to do with the accrediting association for theological schools than a desire to get said degree.

    If you are on the faculty, the accreditation entity does like to see the advanced degree.
    That does not account for the men who continue their studies with chances of being called to the faculty at “slim to none.”

  31. >>I am thinking that the advanced degrees has more to do with the accrediting association for theological schools than a desire to get said degree.

    “Dr.” Karl Barth–not the liberal German theologian, but the LCMS longtime parish Pastor and later District President–was the very successful and highly respected President of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis for many years with only an honorary doctorate, and there were no problems regarding accreditation. His predecessor had a doctorate from Yale and did post-doctoral studies in Germany, but never actually had a call as a Pastor, only serving a few years as a contracted, part-time “pastoral assistant” while pursuing graduate studies (which is far too often the case with our seminary professors). In that regard, he was even less qualified for his subsequent position!

    Their comparative performance is a good illustration of what I said before: I’d much rather have an experienced pastor as seminary president even without an advance academic degree, than an academic without real pastoral experience.

  32. @Kebas #35

    My resons for my comment come from a conversation I had with Dr. Robert Preus. We discussed the fact that the acrediting association wanted Marquart to get an advanced degree. Marquart did not feel the need. However, Dr. Preus challenged them by stating that if they wanted Marquart could prooduce two or three theses of doctorate level. Just give him a couple of weekends. 🙂

  33. @Kebas #35
    I’d much rather have an experienced pastor as seminary president even without an advance academic degree, than an academic without real pastoral experience.

    As someone pointed out on the other version of this topic, we wouldn’t be happy with a Fuller PhD as seminary president. Likewise, “an experienced pastor” of an “entertainment” megachurch might not be too much use to Lutheran Christianity.
    I pray God will provide better than either.

    Pr. Sterle,
    Thanks for telling Dr. Preus’ story. 🙂
    That was my impression of Prof/Pr Marquart during the brief classes I was privileged to sit under his instruction.

  34. Speaking of retirement…can LC-MS pastors retire early due to failing health and still remain on the roster? Is there any support for pastor’s whose health fail them early?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.