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


“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


What Lutherans Can Learn: The 2019 LookUp Conference on Mental Health

Anyone who knows me knows that I care deeply about mental health. I have suffered from clinical depression for a long time now, probably over fifteen years. It is something that I have written about, spoken on, and generally beaten the drum at any given opportunity.

So it was a special treat to speak at the 2019 LookUp Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana, this past week. Underwritten by the Lutheran Foundation of Fort Wayne, this ecumenical conference brought leaders from many different churches and walks of life together to ask the question of where the Christian Church can and should fit in as we address this ongoing epidemic here in the United States. My thanks to Marcia Haaff, Rev. Dennis Goff and their amazing staff for putting this on. I was a sectional speaker, and was able to give a Lutheran perspective on faith, mental illness, and where we as the church can fit in.

But what was really great about this conference was how much I was fed and encouraged along the way.

There were two keynote speakers, neither of whom did I know much about. The first was Dr. Warren Kinghorn, a professor of psychiatry and theology at Duke Divinity School and the Duke University Medical Center . The second was Kay Warren, wife of Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Neither of these people were on my radar before this event, but I have to say, they were both fantastic.

Kay Warren speaking at the LookUp conference in 2019.

Kay Warren is not exactly the type of 21st century Christian I tend to seek out. But with the suicide of their son in 2013, things have changed for Warren and for Saddleback. I’m sure there is a lot more to the story, but her encouragement was that we as Christians care for those in need, period. And there are few people or groups more in need today than those with mental illnesses. We have something to offer as the Church which few groups today can say. We can offer hope. Hope is a rare commodity in the world of mental illness, so the fact that we can provide it puts us in a remarkable place.

Dr. Warren Kinghorn

For me, though, the real gem was Dr. Warren Kinghorn. Dr. Kinghorn’ s thesis as I understand it is pretty simple. One of the key factors in health and healing is the need for community. That might mean family, work, social groups, or the church, but people thrive when they belong. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about mental health, addiction, or the myriad of other factors which make modern living complex. The more human beings are separated and isolated, the worse it is for them. We are created to be together. As we hear in Genesis 2, “It is not good for man to be alone…”

What I find fascinating about this simple but profound observation is that we as Lutherans might have a voice on this that is often missing in modern theological thought. Most of modern Christianity today has lessened or even removed the concept of sin. But for us, sin means separation. It means separation from the God who created and redeemed us, and it means separation from each other. It should not surprise us when sin and the consequences of sin (illness) mess everything up, top to bottom.

In our preaching and teaching about sin, one of the things I have come to believe we need to reflect on more is how forgiveness is not so much an individual act, but it is one that creates connections. We are reconnected to God and to each other through the forgiveness of sins. This creates Koinonia, fellowship, and it is in this fellowship with God and each other that we can heal, and even thrive as human beings.

So how do we as the Christian Church do this? I’m just starting to think through all of the implications, but here are a few thoughts I’m knocking around. I hope you will do the same with me.

  1. We as the Church need to see forgiveness and our reconnection with one another as two sides of the same coin. This does not denigrate or lesson the role of forgiveness. What it does is put the therefore behind what happens through the Gospel.
  2. When we see our work as the Church in purely academic or pragmatic categories, we are missing out on the very thing that we have to offer for the life of the world. It is altogether too easy today to think in terms of education, or entrepreneurship, or other horizontal categories, and think that’s all we are and all we have as God’s people. May it never be so among us!
  3. In reaching out to the people on the margins, we are not going down some weird road of social justice, we are instead seeing that we need them as much as they need us. We are one body in Christ. Caring for one another in our mutual weaknesses is exactly what makes us who we are as God’s people.
  4. By trying to understand and find ways of partnering with other entities or groups on mental illness, we demonstrate to the world that we are here in their midst, we are here to stay, and that God is here to actually care for people, not take things from people. This is hard for us as Lutherans, because our understanding of the distinctions between the church and state, for example, can easily convince us that we shouldn’t try to work together. What do we have to fear?

These are just a few of my initial thoughts on the matter. I want to thank Dr. Kinghorn for his ongoing work in this area. I hope that you get the opportunity to have dinner with a few more Lutherans. I think we might need each other!

Dr. Warren Kinghorn speaking at the 2019 LookUp Conference