As a kid I visited Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. My Grandpa was born and grew up in Altenburg, MO and went to Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church in Altenburg. But I also heard about Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne. My Dad, who was a VP of AAL, would speak at the Seminary graduation diners sponsored by AAL. In high school, I would go with my Dad to CTS graduation dinners and afterward my Dad, Rev. and Mrs. Dr. Scaer, Rev. and Mrs. Dr. Maier, and President Preus and his wife and I would go out after the graduation meal. I was really honored and impressed by these professors as a high school aged kid. President Preus, while I was in high school, sent me a signed book that he wrote on the Confessions. I was a public school kid who loved (and still loves) theology. My Grandpa died when I was three but I got a lot of his books when I was in Jr. High.
When I was a pre-seminary student at Concordia River Forest (CUC) it was a little different than it is today. I was in the Pre-Seminary program but there was no pre-Sem gatherings and I wasn’t really sure who was the “director” of the program. The Seminaries really didn’t have visitation days and once or maybe twice a year the Sem reps would show up on campus at their perspective tables with seminary information. Each Seminary had a guy who took care of applications.
Since from my freshman year from what I recall, a few of my friends and I would jump in the car for Fort Wayne’s Symposia. I called the Sem ahead of time and they paid for our registration fee and food. We found lodging somehow. I think my first year I went I slept on the floor in a seminarian’s room. One year I crashed at my friend’s home, and I think the later years, the Seminary gave us rooms to stay in. During my college days at Symposia, I learned how to discuss theology, familiarize myself with modern theological conversations, and I met great confessional theologians from around the world at the Fort (CTS).
The best way I could describe CTS and her Symposia is that it is all about the theological community. Profs, students, visiting pastors, and I would discuss theology bonded by a common Confession from morning to night. While at the Symposia as a college student, three big named professors including Prof. Scaer and President Preus would invite me and my comrades to their house as they entertained their symposia guest. The Symposia at CTS (I believe the oldest and largest Symposia in the Synod) was a annual gathering of good friends, great theological conversations, great worship and food. But also at the Symposia I had the opportunity to hear other great theologians from all around the world.
By the time I entered into the Seminary at the Fort (CTS), I was no foreigner, for I was already part of this community, already nurtured by great theologians as Dr. Scaer, President Preus,, Dr. Weinrich, Prof. Marquart and the list goes on.
Who would think this spirit of the Symposia at CTS would live on today in a very changing world. Thanks to a our president, President Rast we continue on with the Symposia spirit, as we continue to invite college students to the Symposia beginning their seminary formation while yet in college. Not only would the symposia participants be able to attend lectures but also to worship with us during the various offices offered throughout the day and evening.
Yes, the Symposia is the “good old todays!” It is a time to engross oneself in good theology and Gemütlichkeit and reunite with good friends! All in the Name of Christ. Pax Christi!