Recently the secular media has been picking up a story coming out of Concordia University, St. Paul. It had quoted President Ries in a very strange way (as the media often does in relation to the church, especially in a case that may fit their “agenda”). There is also a “hashtag” campaign. Gottesdienst has done a good job starting coverage on this also.(for more on Pr. Larry Beane on worship, come to our Conference in February).
I contacted President Ries and he graciously replied back to me with this clarification that he had sent out to all the faculty, students, and staff associated with Concordia, St. Paul. There are some issues which have to be settled out with the world, but also some needing addressing within the church as well. Synod leadership is also working on this situation.
This story is still unfolding, so caution should be applied in responses (and comments).
Dear Concordia University Students, Faculty, and Staff:
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. In this season of gratitude, I am especially thankful for all of you.
Recently an incident occurred on our campus which involved matters of sexual orientation within a student organization. This challenging incident is providing yet another opportunity for us as an academic community to continue our ongoing dialogue around matters of sexual orientation in the context of the Concordia Mission and Promise statements. As we continue this discussion, I want to again share with you some important principles.
First, we love all of our students, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Second, we affirm the biblical teaching that God’s creative intent is for sexuality to be expressed between one man and one woman in a marriage relationship.
Third, we affirm the biblical teaching of God’s love for all people in Christ, even when we do not live out his perfect intent. As Jesus clearly shows us, this includes every one of us.
When I say “we” I am speaking for the university as an entity. Whether or not your personal views of these principles agree with or differ from mine, it is important that they continue to guide our conversations in this academic community about sexual orientation. As always, I pledge myself to participate with you in this important dialogue on our campus.
I am pleased to see that there is increased interest on our campus in addressing these types of issues and concerns. Throughout the years of my presidency, I have been publicly encouraging additional student, faculty and staff input to the discussion of difficult issues, and our Board of Regents has been consistently encouraging the same. I see opportunities for us to review student handbook policies and craft a student support group that is respectful of the needs of all our students. I hope you, too, are willing to participate in this dialogue with both compassion and conviction. I know many of you are.
Grace and peace to you in this blessed season.
Tom Ries, President