Below you will find a link to the letter I wrote to my congregation yesterday, July 19. -TAP
July 19, 2021
“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
Holy Cross Lutheran Church