May 2 to 13, 2011
by the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC,
Diocese of the Holy Cross

A historic encounter has just taken place, with the eleven day visit of 38 Lutherans from Scandinavia, to the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS).  Clergy and some wives, laity and the Presiding Bishop of the Mission Province, Roland Gustafsson, came from Sweden, Norway and Finland to visit both LCMS seminaries, the International Center in St. Louis, and various cultural sites.  The American host was Dr. Chris Barnekov of the Scandinavian Center in Fort Wayne, IN, and our leader from Sweden was Dr. Bengt Birgersson of the Lutheran School of Theology in Göteborg, and General Secretary of the Mission Province.

Cultural:  Pr. Charles Henrickson of Chicago was our tour guide for  Chicago’s old Swedish neighborhood and the Swedish-American Museum in the north end of Chicago.  Later that week, in Andover, IL,  we saw the roots of the Augustana Synod at the Jenny Lind Chapel and Museum, and the adjacent “Cathedral of the Prairie.”  In St. Louis, we were treated to the Gateway Arch, the Westward Expansion Museum and the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

Historical:   at Concordia Seminary (CS) in St. Louis there was a presentation entitled  “How the Missouri Synod and CS have maintained their confessional identity during the past hundred years.”  We had a tour of the Concordia Historical Institute, and  a talk at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS) in Fort Wayne by Dr. Lawrence Rast, “Lutherans in America.”

Academic:   We visited the Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, for a few hours, where Swedish priests were once trained, then the two LCMS seminaries (four days at CS in St. Louis and four at CTS in Fort Wayne) both of which have ties with the Lutheran School of Theology in Göteborg, Sweden.  We had the opportunity to sit in on classes (mine was with Dr. David Scaer, Systematic Theology).   At CS, Professors Frederik Sidenval and Joel Biermann presented “Law and Gospel, yes, but how do we make sure that the Law is not destroyed in a time of antinomianism?”  At CTS there was a discussion with Dr. Naomichi Masaki and Dr. Detlev Schulz on the possibilities for advanced study.  At CTS, Dr. William Weinrich spoke on “The Theological Basis of the CTS Curriculum.”

Ecumenical:  Our host in Peoria, IL, was Fr. Stephen Tibbits, one of the founders of CORE, a conservative group in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. There was a visit to the LCMS International Center near St. Louis, with a long morning session with the Committee on Theology and Church Relations, and clerical and lay members of that Committee, led by Dr. Lawrence Rast, to examine dogmatic, ethical, ecclesiological and social questions.

Spiritual:  We worshipped in the Jenny Lind Chapel and twice daily in the Seminary Chapels, and on Sunday at St. Paul’s, Fort Wayne, with a presentation there after the sung Mattins by Dr. Richard Resch on Lutheran hymnody.     

Kingdom thinking:   Professor Leo Sanchez gave an excellent presentation at CS on “Global Christianity.”  At CTS, Dr. Dean Wenthe, the Dean, spoke on “The Task and Calling of the Seminary.”

Missiological:  We attended one of the great Liturgies at CS, the “Call Service,” during which the graduating seminarians are given their calls to their respective first pastorates.  Dr. Paul McCain gave us a  tour of the Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis.   Professors Hartung, Nielson, Saleska and Marrs made a presentation on pastoral formation.  There was an opportunity to visit St. Paul’s School in Fort Wayne, and Peace Lutheran Church in Sussex, WI, where Pr. Peter Bender provided a session on catechesis.  A “triangle” has developed between Stockholm, St. Louis and Nairobi, with good connections to London (FiF/UK)

Sacramental:  Dr. Birgersson celebrated Sunday Mass in a chapel at CTS.  Dr. Naomichi Masaki made a presentation at CTS on his research on the Swedish Liturgy.  Dr. Paul Grime, Dean of the Chapel at CTS, spoke on the development of the new Hymnal/Prayer Book. 

Ecclesiological:  Dr. Arthur Just and Deaconess Cynthia at CTS described the excellent program for training deaconesses, who now number over 130.  For more information, go to  www.ctsfw.edu/deaconess.    Also at CTS Professor John Pless spoke on “Pastoral Formation and the Influence of Bo Giertz”.

Social:  The MS Vice President, the Rev. & Mrs. Daniel Preus hosted a bar-b-que for all of us at their home near St. Louis.  Advent Lutheran Church, northwest of Indianapolis, put on a lunch for us, en route to Fort Wayne.  Some of Advent’s members are planning a trip to Sweden.  There were various dinners with deans and faculties.    In Sussex, WI, the group stayed with parishioners of Peace Lutheran Church.


(i)  The ties between the LCMS and the confessional Lutheran remnant in Scandinavia are now stronger, and the Mission Province in Sweden and Finland has good friends in the U.S. and in Kenya.

(ii)  A “triangle” has developed over the years between Stockholm, St. Louis and Nairobi, with good connections to London (Forward in Faith/UK)

(iii)  The superb programs for training deaconesses in both the LCMS and the Reformed Episcopal Church  open up further the possibility of biblical ministries for women in the Anglican Church in North America.   



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