Last Friday marked the official beginning of Dr. Thomas Egger’s tenure as president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. This serves as a milestone in the history of Concordia Seminary, as Dr. Egger is the eleventh president in its illustrious 183 year history. (As an aside, I’m a bit saddened that very few people got my “this one goes to eleven!” joke in the inauguration. Has no one seen This is Spinal Tap?) He isn’t the youngest president, although perhaps he looks the youngest. Before him my friend, Dr. Dale Meyer, retired as president after fifteen years. As the chairman of the Board of Regents for the past three years, it was my great honor to oversee both Dr. Egger’s coming in and Dr. Meyer’s going out.
Today marks the end of my service on the Board of Regents of Concordia Seminary, a position I have held since 2015. Because of my new call, it was right and salutary that I resign from the Board of Regents, effective August 31. The Board of Directors of the LCMS will appoint a replacement for me until the end of my term, which will be up in 2026. My dear friend and former vice-chairman, Rev. Max Mons, now serves as the chairman of the CSL Board of Regents.
It would be fair to say that I have been a “Fort Wayne” oriented pastor for my entire ministry, and so my service on the Board may have appeared odd to many. After all, I graduated from Fort Wayne with an MDIV (1996) and an STM (1999). I even worked in the admission office for three years (1996–1999).
Perhaps it was odd, but it was also very good. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has two wonderful seminaries. They are very different. The curricula are different, chapel life is different, and the cultures on campus are different. Once a student graduates and becomes a pastor, though, they simply are a pastor, not a “St. Louis” pastor and a “Fort Wayne” pastor. So there is good sense if having pastors from both schools involved in the governance of both schools. We need each other, and to suggest anything else is folly of the highest order.
Most of you know that at the end of July I accepted a call to serve at my alma mater, Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. I will be serving as an assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions. That is Fort Wayne lingo for what used to be called the Practical Department. I will be teaching pastoral counseling, homiletics (preaching), field education, and serve as the director of the vicarage program. As things work in higher education, I’m sure there will also be “other duties” as they are needed.
The Lord has seen fit to move me from governance of one institution to teaching in another. I won’t deny that coming to Fort Wayne feels like coming home. While most of my teachers from twenty-five years ago are long since retired or with the Lord at rest, this is where I was shaped as a student and formed into a pastor. This is home, even though we left Fort Wayne 22 years ago. Kantor Resch is retired, but Kantor Hildebrand is here and doing great work with the Kantorei. Dr. Marquart is with the Lord, but I am sure that Dr. Masaki is a worthy successor. That list could go on for some time, but you get the idea.
God is merciful, and I do not deserve to be here. I am a parish pastor, first and foremost. It is my prayer that the decades I spent in the parish will serve to help shape the pastors of the next generation that come through this place. I learned from some of the best teachers our Synod has ever produced. Hopefully they rubbed off in some way or another.
So to my friends at Concordia Seminary I say farewell. I came to love the campus and the people. That will not change. And to my friends here at Concordia Theological Seminary, both old and new, I say hello. I’ll do my best not to drive you too crazy. But I’m not making any promises.
—Todd A. Peperkorn