Concordia University Portland news…

A recent announcement by the Board of Regents of Concordia University Portland has drawn some attention.  Apparently there are discussions about the University becoming independent, separate from the LCMS.  Upon this announcement I found some folks on Facebook immediately take to accusation and suspicion that there is a power play at work and that Team Harrison is up to no good.  This is no surprise as the recent zombie-resurrection of Jesus First as “Congregations Matter” has signaled that many liberals in the Synod are not interested in truth or charitable interpretations of situations, but instead upon politically crafted attacks upon the Harrison administration.  Despite huge agreement in measures passed at the 2016 Convention, these folks want to be a vocal and radical minority hiding under a supposed concern for congregations.  No doubt the same old voices will raise the same old uncharitable interpretations of the Harrison administration.  They will also likely blast away at groups like the United List that simply lends its faithful record and approval to candidates for offices. The will of congregations was made known in 2016 as they through their delegations elected the folks we have now.  An attack upon the delegates decisions is not supporting congregations but is actively fighting against them.  We don’t have the United List running the LCMS but the folks duly elected by the Synod Convention (representing all the congregations of the Synod).  Don’t mistake “sour grapes” and class warfare (power politics) for actual concern here folks.

One of our writers here at Steadfast wrote about the strategic importance of these kind of potential changes in the Concordia University System last Fall.  Thank you to Mr. Tim Wood for his insight and vision to help open up some out of the box thinking with his post.  These laymen we have here at Steadfast are great guys, loving the true confession of the Faith in both their congregations and also their synod.  Thanks be to God for such gifts.

I asked the communications department of the LCMS for a statement and they graciously provided one to me (available to anyone that asks) and I print it below:

No decision, proposal or recommendation has been made by Concordia University System or by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod regarding any significant changes at Concordia University – Portland.
Under Synod Bylaws, Concordia University System’s Board of Directors (CUS) would have to make a recommendation to the LCMS Board of Directors concerning certain types of major changes, such as a divestiture or sale, before any changes could occur. If such a recommendation were to be made by CUS, no action would be taken unless both the LCMS Board of Directors and one of either the Concordia University Portland (CUP) Board of Regents or the Council of Presidents voted to accept the recommendation.
The recent CUP Facebook posting and other communications sent out by CUP’s Board of Regents concerning possible changes in ownership and governance reflect the fact that CUS President, Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, and CUP President, Dr. Charles Schlimpert, recently met to discuss how they might work together to meet complex challenges that are facing campuses like CUP in this turbulent environment that currently characterizes university education. Rev. Dr. Wenthe invited Dr. Schlimpert to meet with him in St. Louis to discuss these challenges, particularly in the area of ongoing capitalization. They discussed a variety of ideas on how they might explore potential solutions that would benefit both CUP and the LCMS, but no definite proposals were made. However, CUS President Rev. Dr. Wenthe and CUS Board Chairman Dr. Gerhard Mundinger supported Dr. Schlimpert’s suggestion that he would be willing to postpone his retirement in light of the potentially significant changes that could occur with respect to CUP.

I think this is a good time to let the folks of Concordia Portland and the Concordia University System work this one out for the good of everyone involved.  It’s also time to stop interpreting everything in the most uncharitable way to the Harrison administration.  The 2016 Convention did some great things, including electing good folks who care about faithfulness throughout the Synod (that most certainly includes congregations!).


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Concordia University Portland news… — 41 Comments

  1. Portland has not been a Lutheran university for years. Cut them loose and cut all ties with Portland. More importantly make sure no Lutherans sends their children to this non-Lutheran university.

  2. Pastor Scheer,

    Thanks for posting this. I read about this at However, nowhere did I see a copy of anything in writing from Synod asking Concordia Portland to leave the Synod.

    Your quote from LCMS Communications about the meetings with Dr. Wenthe is the only authentication to this entire story that I can find. Good for Dr. Wenthe for doing his job.

    Stating (at the Congregation Matters site) that “Synod requested that Portland leave the Concordia University System (CUS) and become an independent Lutheran university” may be an exaggeration.

    Blessings in Christ Jesus,
    Ginny Valleau

  3. They were asking for more flexibility to have less qualified leadership in terms of being ordained, not new to the faith and such for the last convention. Those requests never got to the floor. The were interviewing a couple nominations for interim president in the last few weeks.

  4. Ginny,
    Lutherquest discussed this issue beginning on May 30th. There they also referenced the article on BJS by Tim Wood.

  5. @Ginny Valleau #2

    Agreed, Ginny. Dr. Wenthe is simply level-headed and will, of course, take the right steps with regard to Portland. If CUP wants to stick around, they can do so, but if they see themselves not being of one accord with the overall mission and confession of CUS (and of the LC-MS in general), then their best recourse is to leave. Why should they claim to walk to gether with us if they want, in truth, to do otherwise? There are steps they can take for them to be independent, and I don’t think anyone’s going to stop them if they choose to take them. Nor should we. Our Concordia University System schools need to be held to the same Biblical and Confessional principles as any member of synod is held to them, agreement in all articles of doctrine, et al. This is especially true as students–especially those being formed for the pastoral ministry or deaconness service–may have opportunity to spend various semesters at various campuses. What they learn at one school needs to be what they learn at another. So, if Portland wants to break from this unity, they need to be up front and honest about it.

  6. The article in question states that the problem is not with CUP or with President Schlimpert (though, to my knowledge, no one involved with this has said so) but that the problem is with synod leadership. And for their assertion is given not one shred of actual evidence in support. I’m not one for following a “United List” or any list, but delegates are free to vote however they choose and if they choose to do so from a list, that’s their prerogative.
    They accuse folks within “the Harrison administration” (which are mostly if not all folks who were individually elected by synod in convention, NOT appointed by Harrison) of acting “top down” and making decisions without consulting congregations when in fact no decisions of any consequence have been made and when in fact President Schlimpert was in on the discussions which led to the REQUEST for the CUP BOR to CONSIDER such action.
    Perhaps the most absurd aspect of this article: they call for “transparency and accountability” while lurking behind the same cloak of anonymity from which they’ve been lobbing all manner of baseless accusations against other Christians with whom they are presumably in fellowship.
    Finally, a call to any one of the CUP BOR members would resolve their ridiculous complaint about the timing of the announcement (“Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend”). It just so happens that the CUP BOR was meeting that day according to a schedule I assume they determined far in advance, and since they came to the decision (unanimously I am told) to pursue the exploration of this proposal in the course of their meeting on that day, it makes sense that they not delay putting word out about it but inform people only hours after the decision was made.
    Congregations Matter (an uncopyrightable title, if I recall copyright law correctly) is nothing more than a venue for disgruntled members of our church body (I can only assume this since they will not put their name to anything) to spew the venom of gossip and sow seeds of division among us. I only know of one character mentioned in the Scriptures who takes joy in doing this and their purpose seems in line with his from what I’ve read thus far.

  7. @Rev. Jeffrey Ries #6

    And, remember that Congregations Matter is simply an emotive title just like all the other This-And-That Matters that’s popped up in pop-culture and politics in the last year. Looking forward to their coming out and admitting who they are, names and all.

  8. One of my favorite things about the CONGREGATIONS MATTER website is their “guest essays,” which are, like everything else on the website, ANONYMOUS. That’s some real transparency there. It’s much easier to put forth innuendo and lie when you can’t be held accountable.

  9. My, my, how times change. I seem to recall a “grass roots” effort coming from CUP in the form of an overture to the 2002 NOW district convention requesting convention approval to start the process to become independent. The resulting resolution did not pass. The motivation for that overture was clearly an attempt to break with doctrinal oversight. The issues at CUP are extensive and worthy of trying to fix them, if an environment to do so can be achieved. On that point I have serious doubts. If a separation is to be made I hope it will include removal of the name Lutheran from the title of the new institution and the immediate removal from the LCMS roster of all clergy and commissioned ministers who choose to stay.

  10. Concordia in Edmonton actually left the LCC, stealing the university out from under the Synod. Sell Portland now and spend the money on a new tea cozy (that’s about what it is worth).

  11. @Steve #10

    Are you telling me the two degrees I earned at CU-Portland are worthless? Are you telling all of the present and past students the degrees they are/have earned are worthless? If that’s the case, then I am going to want a full refund of all of my tuition payments. That’s what your callous statement, “Sell Portland now and spend the money on a new tea cozy (that’s about what it is worth)” tells me and all former students of CU-Portland.

    I really dislike the culture which is erupting in the church right now. This is not the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod I remember. This is not how I grew up.

    There are amazing things happening at the Portland campus all the time. There are veterans getting an education and a degree so they can give back to the community. There are the parents in single parent homes getting an education to better themselves, their children and the community at large. There IS community, free speech, involvement, and the greatest of all of these is love. The love of the community (however you wish to define the word). These are all amazing things in a part of town which many native Portlanders gave up on a long time ago.

    So, Steve, tell me in your infinite wisdom. How is what you are preaching in your statement in line with God’s word? How is that following the teachings of Christ our Lord and Savior? I believe it is you, and people like you, who have let your own agenda cloud your judgement.

    So, let me know when you are ready to send me a check for the worthless degrees I have and I will gladly let you know how much I still owe on my student loans and where to send the check.


    “One area came to my awareness during a visit to our Concordia University, Portland, Oregon, USA, campus by a group of Muslim academics in Oct. 2004. Our university is on the regular itinerary of a State Department-sponsored program to take Muslim educators around to visit a variety of college campuses. Weare on the itinerary because Muslims often wonder how a conservative Christian university can responsibly teach about other religions in a respectful and positive manner. Our discussions were scheduled at the conclusion of our chapel, and the venue was in the fellowship hall of the church where daily chapel is held. The visitors arrived while the worship was going on and were invited to sit and observe. The itinerary leader was a bit apologetic that this Christian worship was presented to them. However, the Muslim academics(from Saudi Arabia) expressed their delight and surprise at what they heard. They discussed that they could have worshipped with the same words that they heard, for it so happened that the songs they heard only referred to God and not to Jesus. This experience caused me to reflect on the Muslim misconception about Christian worship. They think we worship a human being. They understand that all through history mankind has had the tendency to turn the prophet of God into a divine being after his death. Thereby, people commit the unforgivable sin of worshipping someone other than God Himself.”

    I wish a chapel service of an LCMS college would offend a good Muslim with the name of Jesus flowing out of every pore of its service. How sad.

  13. @LW #12

    I would not jump to conclusions. We have no idea at what point they may have entered during the service, we have no idea the content of the service, etc. I understand your sentiment though.

    And actually, if you think about it, depending on what came during the conference afterward, it’s not such a bad thing to emphasize that we too are monotheists. Most Muslims are under the impression that we are tri-theists. So it may not be a bad thing from an evangelical standpoint to start with we are monotheists and then explain Trinitarian monotheism to them. Our goal should not be to offend. It should be to teach and see if the holy spirit takes hold. 99/100 times it won’t matter to them, but we rejoice at that 1 time it does. Just a thought.

  14. @Jason #14

    Good point, but I think a Christian worship service should focus on Jesus from beginning to end. I find it troubling that a Mission Chair at an LCMS college thinks a Muslim can attend a Christian worship service without being offended and that he seems to have no problem with a non-Christ centered worship. What is the mission without Jesus. I don’t mean to say that Christians should seek to offend others by our own actions. However, we know that when Jesus Christ and his cross are preached our old Adam is offended. If an unbeliever is not offended by the message of a worship service then it probably isn’t Christian worship.

  15. @LW #15

    I hear what you are saying. I just don’t know if we have enough info from that post to jump to any conclusions. I’m not that familiar with Concordia Portland, so I can’t really make any assumptions one way or another.

  16. And, yet, I’ve participated in a Bible study with the Head of the Theology Dept. himself wherein he stated matter-of-factly that any Muslim could confess the First Article of the Creed alongside each one of us.


    It’s just as Sirius told Harry in ‘Goblet of Fire,’ I’m afraid; the devils are in the walls.

  17. @Wyldeirishman #18

    I am unclear on what you mean by your question. Most Muslims probably would not take issue with the first article of the Creed. They do believe that Allah is Almighty God who created all things. The Shohada which they confess when they are converted to Islam essentially makes that statement, along with confessing that Muhammad is his prophet. The reason we have the three paragraph format to the creeds (Apostle’s and Nicene) was to teach and differentiate orthodox Christianity from other various heresies that we encountered over time. So an ebionite for example could confess the first paragraph, but not the next two. In fact, we found that the forerunner of the Apostle’s creed wasn’t specific enough because groups such as the Arians could confess the creed, without being in line with the apostolic Christian faith. Hence the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed was developed. Anyway, I probably got away from your point a bit, but I don’t think that what the man says is an untrue statement, nor is it necessarily catering to Islam (if that is what you meant). Would have to hear more of what was said in that conversation to determine the purpose behind his statement. Was there additional subjects discussed in the Bible Study that would indicate otherwise? Just curious.

  18. @Jason #19

    Actually, as I understand it Islam teaches that Allah is not “Father”. If someone knows differently, please correct me.

  19. @T-rav #20

    You may be correct on that. I think it would largely depend on whether a Muslim was raised in a predominantly Christian country or a predominantly Muslim country on whether they would be amenable to the verbiage in the First Article of the creed. That’s a good question though. Will have to dig through the Quran a bit.

  20. @Jason #19

    What Muslims confess in the Shahada is not God. No Muslim worth his (or her) salt would dare ascribe something so personable and knowable as fatherhood (literally, “Abba”) to Allah, and stating otherwise calls immediately to mind images of Lewis’ drunken ape, Shift, loudly proclaiming the notion of “Tashlan.”

    Whether or not they are amenable to what the First Article stated can be clearly witnessed throughout the world, particularly now that Ramadan is in full swing.

  21. @Jason #19

    The conversational context was part of a guest-speaker at said Bible class from CPU who had engaged in “missional work” in the Muslim world. While he himself did not posit the aforementioned notion re: the First Article, the head of his Theology Dept. did, and he made no effort to clarify it.

    Thankfully, our own pastor *did.* 🙂

  22. @Wyldeirishman #23

    Make no mistake, I am not insinuating that Allah is God. I just think it is usually useful to start from a position we have at least some common ground on, then work toward those things we disagree about when trying to convert, similar to Paul’s address to the Athenians in Acts 17. Thanks for clarifying.

  23. I have to cringe whenever I hear “Christians” say that Allah and God the Father (Yahweh) are the same but just that different names are used.

  24. @GaiusKurios #25

    I would cringe as well. But just as Paul started off appealing to the religious fervor of the Athenians as a way to proclaim the one true God, I would not open an appeal to a Muslim by insulting them. In other words, yes, we both believe in one god, let me tell you what my god did for me…

  25. My daughter has attended Lutheran school since she was 2yrs old and just finished her second year @ CUP. Since 1st year,1st semester, she has said that CUP should not be allowed to stay under the LCMS label. She served on Senate (part of StudGov)and was appalled that she had to explain what the letters LCMS stood for and the difference between the beliefs of LCMS and ELCA, not to mention that they were tasked with approving funds for the Gay Pride club to have a Gay Pride Day event at the school. She told me that the president had resigned over some blow back from the Pride club. She also experienced issues with a liberal professor that taught most of the Humanities courses and a lot of the English courses. Thankfully he was let go at the end of the year. We have been disappointed with CUP and feel it does not abide by the biblical principals of the LCMS.

  26. My daughter received an email from CUP President, Dr. Charles Schlimpert, regarding his potential early retirement. It would seem, he has decided to stay on and postpone his retirement in order to assist with exploring CUP becoming independent from LCMS CUS. My question is, what will her Secondary Education degree be worth to the synod when she tries to apply for a position through the LCMS call system? We may have to seriously consider a transfer to CU-Texas for her senior year.

  27. @penny #30

    Her degree should be good. The problem might be the continued health of our high schools.

    CU Texas is not much better. (That could take a whole new thread.) If a switch is needed, Mequon would be better.

  28. Reading through the thread here, there are a lot of allegations that the Concordia system is not being faithful in its mission. I have never attended a Concordia institution, so I am a bit uneducated on the topic. I guess my question here, is there an organizational or institutional reason that Universities operated under the LCMS banner are supposedly not adhering to the Lutheran confessions in their teaching? How tightly linked are they to the LCMS? Does the LCMS have oversight over hiring/firing, etc., or is the relationship between the two much more loose? I just don’t really understand how the oversight works. I had always heard good things about the Concordia system, so this is kind of surprising to me.

  29. @Sean #32

    Not all Concordia schools are equal in their adherence to LCMS confessional standards, and some have not been for a number of years. It is unfortunate that if a separation is effected there will be those who are pursuing church worker vocations that will be impacted. My general suggestion would be for those church workers to seriously consider transferring to another campus this summer. Mequon would be a good choice, as well as a couple of others. CUP reflects to some degree the same issues that are apparent with the NOW District where the word “confessional” is not acceptable to the leadership.

  30. @Richard Lewer #31

    CU Texas is not much better. (That could take a whole new thread.) If a switch is needed, Mequon would be better.

    Someone else will have to “2nd” Mequon, but I agree that CTX is only marginally better than Portland. [I imagine it was thought of because they are currently making a major effort to cooperate with Austin’s Community Colleges on several degrees.]

  31. @Richard Lewer #31 @Helen #34
    My comment regarding transferring to CU-TX was because of the weather being closer to our home states. My daughter is not a winter weather lover. And being that it is in Austin (another bastion of liberal social influence), I know it’s only slightly better than CUP.
    I think the whole problem goes to Universities, public or private, accepting federal funds which dictate how they hire professors, who they accept as students, funding of campus social clubs, etc. The only university that I know of that doesn’t take federal $$ is Hillsdale, and it is very hard to get into. Even then the government still wants to dictate to them the rqmts of how they will handle discrimination or assault complaints.
    The shape of the higher education system is in peril. And unless you have been ultra responsible in educating your child in the events of our county, and right and wrong (with very little room for grey) your kid will probably graduate with values contrary to your own.

  32. @Penny #35

    Penny, you make a great point on the acceptance of federal money. As Douglas Wilson says (quotes from someone? Maybe this is an old proverb?), “He who takes the king’s coin become’s the king’s man.”

    If you’re looking for other good colleges, a good place to start is to read Joy Pullman’s article over at The Federalist, entitled, “The College ‘Clean 15′”. ( There are other colleges that do not accept federal aid; Grove City College (Grove City, PA) comes to mind. I’ve heard great things about the school, but then, this is only second-and-third hand information. Sadly, you will not find any of our Concordias on this list (or any other similar ones).

  33. @Penny #35
    I have taught in the Concordia system for nearly 25 years (no, not at Portland).I would agree that some of our campuses have strayed from their mission and are and LCMS school in name only. The campus at which I teach has thankfully not lost its identity and core values completely, although it is a much different institution than the one which I knew and loved.

    I did, however, want to clarify a few things on your comment, Penny. The CUS schools do indeed accept federal dollars, but in the form of financial aid for their students. In order to receive those funds each campus must remain accredited.

    True, the Feds do dictate how we handle complaints under Title IX. But, they do not dictate policies for hiring professors, students admissions, or funding or recognition of on-campus student groups. Since each Concordia campus has its own board of regents and administration, the policies can vary from place to place. In my opinion, one of the big reasons the Concordias are no longer as effective as they used to be isn’t because of federal financial aid dollars, but because each institution is self-funded (none receive any synodical subsidies) and self-governed, so they are able to go their own way.

  34. @helen #38

    I believe that the property of each campus belongs to the synod. But, for many years now, when a new building is built on any campus it is up to that campus to raise funds and secure financing. I have heard (but don’t know if this is true) that the last building to be built on a Concordia campus that was entirely funded by the synod was at Seward in 1963.

  35. @CU Professor #39

    Thank you. It was an honest question; I did not know.

    But when you say “funded by synod” I take it you mean that the money went through St Louis.
    Since the majority of students are not members of synod these days, it would be interesting to know if the majority of funds also come from outside the member congregations of synod.
    [I do hear more about the needs of the seminaries.]

  36. @helen #40

    You’re welcome, Helen. It is a rather unique situation indeed. Yes, by “funded by synod” I meant that the funds came from St. Louis (as opposed to each campus raising the funds on their own).

    That’s a really interesting question you asked. I don’t know the answer for sure. But, at my campus, it seems to me that the largest donors are those that are members of an LCMS church and therefore feel a strong tie to Concordia and see the campus as a potential mission field.

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