A Chapter Closes, A Chapter Opens

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

Pastor Peperkorn Accepts Call to CTSFW

[This is a copy of the letter I sent to my congregation last night. -TAP]

 The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

July 22, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then the disciples went back to their homes.”

It is with both joy and sadness that I am announcing I have accepted the call to teach at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I am deeply grateful and joyful for the opportunity to help shape the pastors of the next generation of The Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod. This is something I have hoped for a long time. My love for pastoral formation, mentoring, and teaching pastors has been evident for many years. That has included teaching at CTSFW on an adjunct basis for about ten years, but it has also included my service on the Board of Regents at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, for the past six years.

But even as I write these words, I am also sad at the thought of leaving Holy Cross Lutheran Church, and of leaving parish ministry for the foreseeable future. I have been a parish pastor nearly my entire adult life. Holy Cross has shaped me in that way, just as Messiah Lutheran Church in Kenosha did before we were here. I love being a pastor. I love preaching, teaching, celebrating the Sacraments, and being steeped in the lives of God’s people in this place. While I look forward to the next realm of service, my first love will always be altar, pulpit, and font. This is my home.

As I indicated in my letter on Monday, because of the timetable for schools in Fort Wayne, we are having to move much quicker than would be normal. Kathryn and I believe it is important that we get Richard and Beata settled in their schools in Fort Wayne at the beginning of the school year, rather than spend extra weeks here and have them start late. Richard’s high school orientation is on August 9. Because of this, our last Sunday at Holy Cross will be on August 8.

We will be here for the next three Sundays (July 25, August 1, and August 8). Things are going to be crazy with packing and everything else in the next couple of weeks, but we will do everything we can to spend time visiting as much as we are able.

You can expect to hear from Walt Wismar and Rick Fielitz in the next few days about the next steps for Holy Cross. Please keep us and Holy Cross in your prayers. This will be a big change for all of us, but God is good, and He will guide us all in His peace.

“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said > to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

With much affection in Christ,

Todd A. Peperkorn, STM, DMIN

Senior Pastor

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

 

CC: Rev. Michael Lange, CNH District President

Rev. Duane Bamsch, Circuit Visitor

Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr., CTSFW President

 

Pastor Receives Call to CTSFW

Below you will find a link to the letter I wrote to my congregation yesterday, July 19. -TAP

July 19, 2021

Friends,

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”” (Isaiah 52:7 ESV)

I am writing you today to inform you that I have received a divine call from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to serve as an Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions. I would be teaching homiletics (preaching), pastoral care and counseling, and other pastoral theology classes. A part of this call would include serving as the director of the vicarage (internship) program and the second-year field education program.

To say that this came as a surprise to me is a profound understatement. Many of you have heard me say for years that the only thing that would pry me away from Holy Cross would be to teach at one of our church’s seminaries. I believed that because of my position as the chairman of the board of regents at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, that the possibility of me getting a call to either seminary was at least five years away. I was wrong.

This is what happened as best as I am able to understand it. In mid-June, a professor at CTS in Fort Wayne received and accepted a call to a congregation. This professor (named Dr. Gary Zieroth) had as one of his duties the director of vicarage. CTSFW did not have any intention of calling someone this summer, but with his fairly sudden departure, it put them in a position where they needed to call someone rather quickly. My own education and skill set lines up almost perfectly with what the seminary was looking for, so here we are. I found out about this as a real possibility while we were on vacation.

The process of a Seminary calling a professor is a little different from when a congregation calls a pastor. For a seminary, they first determine if the person is interested, and I was. I then had to go through what is called the Prior Approval Panel. This is an approval process facilitated by the Synod’s Office of Pastoral Education. Finally, I had to be interviewed by the board of regents, which was today, and then they issued the call. Between the first step and this last step, I could not tell anyone about the possibility. In this way, it was probably just as well we were on vacation because although this is an opportunity I look forward to, I can’t imagine leaving my beloved Holy Cross. Not telling you would have been nearly impossible.

When my family and I moved to Rocklin almost exactly ten years ago, it was with the intention of staying here until we retired. I did not start my doctoral degree program at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in order to leave Holy Cross but in order to strengthen my own preaching for my congregation. I suppose that this sort of call was a possibility with the completion of this degree, but I did not believe the call would happen so quickly, if at all.

I cannot even describe how much we love Holy Cross. It nearly brings me to tears at even the thought of leaving. You have been far more kind and generous to me and my family than I could ever possibly deserve, and it was fully my intention to dedicate the rest of my professional life to serving here. But it now seems that God may have been preparing me for something else.

The real challenge and complication with the call right now is the beginning of the school year for Richard and Beata. As far as we have been able to figure out, the Lutheran high school starts in Fort Wayne on August 9, and the elementary school would start on August 19. That’s not very long from now. It means we have to make a decision on this quickly, and certainly faster than I would normally allow.

It is hard for me to say, but in reality, I have all but made my decision about this call. If you have any counsel for me about this call, though, I would love to hear it. I want to hear from you. Your voice is very important to me and to my family. Holy Cross is our home, we love you all so much, and the thought of leaving weighs hard upon us all.

Christ is Lord of the Church. He is the one who calls us together. He is the one who keeps us in Him. Regardless of whether I continue to serve at Holy Cross, or serve at the seminary, God will care for us all by His Holy Word and Spirit.

In Christ and with much affection,

Todd A. Peperkorn, STM, DMIN

Senior Pastor

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

LCMS Books on Preaching

Many of you probably know that I am pursuing a doctorate in preaching from The Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. I am now in the thesis project stage, where I am writing on developing a Lutheran sacramental imagination.

One part of this project is surveying how preaching/homiletics has been taught in the LCMS over the past one hundred years or so. In my research with this project, I have backed into developing a bibliography of all of the books on preaching written in the LCMS in English. This of course will largely include CPH works, but not exclusively. 

Here’s my request. Below you will find my bibliography as it sits right now. What am I missing? I should also observe that I am not including works that are really lectionary helps, exegetical studies, and the like. Those have been produced in many ways on a pretty regular basis since the 1950s. What I am looking for are books on the theory and practice of preaching.

Here is the list:

Aho, Gerhard. The Lively Skeleton: Thematic Approaches and Outlines. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

Feasting in a Famine of the Word. Edited by Mark W. Birkholz, Jacob Corzine, and Jonathon Mumme. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016.

Bosch, Paul. The Sermon as Part of the Liturgy. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

Caemmerer, Richard R. Preaching for the Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959.

Deffner, Donald L. The Real Word for the Real World: Applying the Word to the Needs of People. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

Deffner, Donald L. Compassionate Preaching: A Primer for Homiletics. Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1991.

Eggold, Henry J. Preaching is Dialogue. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980.

Erdahl, Lowell O. Better Preaching: Evaluating the Sermon. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

Fritz, John Henry Charles. The Preacher’s Manual: A Study in Homiletics, With the Addition of a Brief History of Preaching, Sermon Material, Texts From Various Occasions, and Perieopic Systems. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

Graebner, Theodore. The Expository Preacher: A System of Inductive Homiletics. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1920.

Grime, Paul J., and Dean W. Nadasdy, eds. Preaching is Worship: The Sermon in Context. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011.

Grimenstein, Edward O. A Lutheran Primer for Preaching: A Theological Approach to Sermon Writing. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2015.

Harms, Paul. Power From the Pulpit. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

Knoche, H Gerhard. The Creative Task: Writing the Sermon. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

Mulder, David P. Narrative Preaching. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1996.

Poovey, William A. Letting the Word Come Alive: Choosing and Studying the Text. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

Rossow, Francis C. Preaching the Creative Gospel Creatively. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing. House, 1983.

———. Gospel Patterns in Literature. Kirk House Pub, 2008.

———. The Means of Grace. Vol. Insight series of Saint Louis: 2008.

———. Gospel Handles. 2014.

Wedel, Alton F. The Mighty Word: Power and Purpose of Preaching. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

Weisheit, Eldon. A Sermon is More Than Words. The Preacher’s Workshop Series. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

If you know of anything I should add, please either email me or put a note on it in the comments below. Thank you!

-Todd Peperkorn