In the next few days, pastors and lay leaders in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod will vote for the president of our Missouri Synod. As the election of draws near, my memory is taken back some two convention cycles ago, to the events of 2010.
2010 was a tough year for CTS—Ft. Wayne. That year, of the candidates for the Office of the Holy Ministry who were certified for placement, over twenty men did not receive a call on call night. In St. Louis, the situation at Concordia Seminary was much different. At CSL, there were only a handful of men who did not receive calls on call night. In 2010, the burden of the shortage of calls in the Missouri Synod was borne overwhelmingly by only one of our two LCMS Seminaries: Ft. Wayne. Clearly these events (perceived by many as an outright attack on CTS) were a failure of the synodical leadership at that time, and certainly worked against any hopes of synodical peace and unity.
The following summer was difficult for ordained admission staff at CTS. The staff had to answer this question over and over again posed by prospective students: “If I go to Ft. Wayne, my pastor/elder/congregation president, etc. says I won’t receive a call. Is this true?”
Clearly, call night 2010 had a negative impact on the Ft. Wayne Seminary’s reputation and influenced many prospective seminarians against attending CTS. There is no question that the reputation of CTS suffered as a result of call night 2010.
I write all of this from the unique vantage point of one of those candidates of 2010 who did not receive a call on call night AND as a former Admission Counselor at CTS (2010-2013) who personally fielded many of those questions from prospective seminarians and dealt with their reluctance firsthand.
In summer 2010, Pr. Harrison was elected synod president. Thanks to Pr. Harrison and his leadership, after 2010, any burden of a shortage of calls was borne by both Seminaries equally. If Ft. Wayne was short, say, five candidates, so was St. Louis. If all the candidates at CSL were placed, so were all the candidates at Ft. Wayne. Through Pr. Harrison’s leadership, the reputation and name of CTS has been largely restored through the total placement of certified candidates for the Office of the Holy Ministry and the name of the Ft. Wayne Seminary has been largely restored among prospective students for Seminary. Today, CTS’ enrollment of first year students nearly equals that of CSL.
I write all of this as a pastor who loves his Seminary and thanks God for the confessional training I received there. I believe Pr. Harrison is not only a friend, but a staunch defender of CTS—Ft. Wayne. I will be voting for him in this election, firstly for his constancy and loyalty to our Scriptures and Confessions, for his bold preaching of Christ crucified for sinners, but secondly for his faithfulness to my Seminary. I thank God for Pr. Harrison, and I encourage you to elect him again.