|Affiliation||Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod|
|President||Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr.|
Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States|
The Concordia Theological Seminary is an institution of theological higher education of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and dedicated primarily to the preparation of pastors for the congregations and missions of the LCMS and its partner churches.
In 1844, Frederick C. D. Wyneken, pastor of the Lutheran church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, began pastoral training of two young men. Wyneken took a call in 1845 to a congregation in Baltimore, Maryland, and was replaced by Wilhelm Sihler, who continued the training. Wyneken had earlier written to Wilhelm Loehe in Germany, requesting help in providing pastors for German Lutheran immigrants to the United States, and in August 1846 eleven theological students and their instructor arrived in Fort Wayne, having been sent by Loehe. The seminary was formally organized at that time, with Sihler becoming the first president. Classes were held in the parsonage, and a four-room house was rented for use as a dormitory.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was organized in 1847, and in response to the new synod's request, Loehe transferred ownership of the seminary to the synod. He continued to support the seminary by sending money, books, and students from Germany. Two years later the seminary purchased 14 acres (5.7 ha) about 1 mile (1.6 km) east of Fort Wayne and erected the first building on its new campus.
Within the synod the seminary was referred to as the "practical seminary" because its purpose was to quickly provide pastors for congregations. It provided both pre-seminary and seminary instruction. The pre-seminary course of work was similar to that of a high school, and the seminary classes provided enough theological training to enable the graduates to serve the congregations. However, the seminary did not require knowledge of the Biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew).
To protect its students from the draft during the American Civil War, the seminary moved, in 1861, to the campus of the synod's academic seminary, Concordia Seminary, in St. Louis, Missouri. C. F. W. Walther, who was already the president of the St. Louis seminary, became president of the practical seminary as well. However, there was friction between the two institutions, both faculty and students, in part due to the differences in academic rigor and purposes. In addition, the growth in enrollment in both seminaries led to overcrowding of the campus.
In 1874 the 29 pre-seminary students of the practical seminary, along with one instructor, were moved to the campus of the former Illinois State University in Springfield, Illinois. The next year, 1875, the practical seminary itself moved to the Springfield campus, with president F. A. Craemer and the pre-seminary instructor serving as the faculty. A third faculty member joined the staff in 1876.
At that time there were no particular entrance requirements. It was not until 1918 that completion of eighth grade was required of prospective students, the same year that an additional year of instruction was added to the pre-seminary course of study. The additional courses made it possible for pastors to obtain teaching certificates in states where pastors were not automatically eligible to teach in parochial schools. However, even in the 1920s the pastors graduating from the seminary generally had, except for the pastoral training, only the equivalent of a high school education.
In view of the relatively low level of academic training provided by the seminary, resolutions to close the seminary were introduced in the 1932 and 1935 synodical conventions; the one in 1935 initially passed by a 266 to 265 vote, but was then reconsidered and defeated, 283 to 256. Nevertheless, the seminary began making changes: Greek was made a required course; new students had to have had at least two years of high school, and accreditation by the state of Illinois was sought.
Starting in 1941, all entering students had to be high school graduates, allowing the seminary to discontinue all high school classes. Academic requirements were further strengthened in subsequent years. Entrance requirements were again raised, first to completion of two years of college, and again to prefer college graduates. Expectations for the faculty were also increased with the aim that all professors would have doctoral degrees. The American Association of Theological Schools accepted the seminary as a member in the fall of 1968. The Bachelor of Divinity degree which the seminary had awarded its graduates become fully accredited, and was replaced by the Master of Divinity degree in 1973.
The seminary remained in Springfield until the synod reorganized its system of pastoral training and merged the program of Concordia Senior College of Fort Wayne with Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1976, the seminary returned to Fort Wayne, where it inherited the Senior College's award-winning campus, designed by Eero Saarinen.
Concordia Theological Seminary is theologically conservative, emphasizing study of the Bible and the Book of Concord. The seminary is a liturgical community following the practice of praying the divine offices each day, including Matins, Vespers and Compline, as well as celebrating the Lord's Supper each week.
Concordia has had 17 different presidents.
The seminary is divided into four departments: Exegetical Theology, Historical Theology, Pastoral Ministry and Mission, and Systematic Theology.
Throughout its history, the seminary has had a variety of musical groups to participate in special services on the campus and to serve as an outreach to surrounding areas.
The primary musical organizations in recent years have been the Schola Cantorum and the Seminary Kantorei.
The Schola Cantorum is a mixed voice choir drawn from students, faculty members, spouses of students and faculty, and members of the community. The choir has frequently performed major choral works with an orchestra of professional musicians, as well as professional solosits, and participated in special choral services several times each year in Kramer Chapel, the seminary's on-campus worship facility. The chapel is a large, concrete, A-frame structure with a renowned pipe organ.
The Seminary Kantorei is a 16-voice select choir of seminary students, founded by Kantor Richard C. Resch in 1978. The all-male choir performs shorter choral works, sometimes accompanied by organ, harpsichord, or other instruments. It also leads special choral services in Kramer Chapel, as well as going on a major tour each January to various parts of the U.S. and shorter tours in the Midwest at other times. Resch has made special arrangements of traditional hymns and commissioned composers to write original works or arrangements for the group. The Kantorei has made numerous compact discs, which are available through the seminary's bookstore. With Kantor Richard Resch's retirement, the group is now led by Kantor Kevin J. Hildebrand who had served as Associate Kantor since 2002.
The seminary publishes a journal for professional theologians, a magazine for laity and for the seminary community, and books.