This is the third in a sequence of very successful similar arrangements. Rev. Juhana Pohjola of Helsinki was in residence at our seminary from January 2011 to June 2012 while completing his doctoral dissertation. He contributed greatly to the community through his preaching and occasional teaching. Rev. Wilhelm Torgerson, a Canadian-German well-known to members of LCC, entered our midst in August 2011 and continues to teach a full load of classes. His first two years were supported by a grant from the Marvin M. Schwan charitable foundation.
Rev. Esko Murto is a young pastor from the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. This group comprises 30 congregations founded since 1999 in reaction to the unfaithfulness of the Lutheran state church in Finland. For more than a decade it has proved impossible for any candidate to be ordained in the state church if he opposes the ordination of women. The state church’s increasing openness towards homosexual “marriages” has made the exodus more urgent. Faithful pastors have been bullied and defrocked.
It is important that we offer brotherly support within the Lutheran community to those who struggle to confess the truth in such circumstances. Rev. Murto’s time in Canada will give him crucial insights into the inner workings of an independent confessional Lutheran church body and seminary that he can bring back to Finland. LCC President Robert Bugbee is delighted to approve Rev. Murto’s Canadian sojourn to the mutual benefit of our churches.
The decision to call the new group a “mission” diocese was quite deliberate. The congregations do not withdraw from the world as a result of their faithfulness to Scripture, but reach out with the Gospel, seeking those who are looking for a closer relationship to God.
As a result of this experience, Rev. Murto will bring to the seminary unique insights into how to spread the Gospel in the increasingly “post-Christian” north Atlantic culture that we in Canada share with our Nordic cousins. Rev. Murto brings other specialisations. His Master of Theology thesis (University of Helsinki) was on the theology of C. S. Lewis. He also holds a Master of Sacred Theology from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, where he wrote his thesis on Martin Luther’s view of the devil.
Rev. Murto will teach the seminary’s Confessions, dogmatics, and missions courses in the 2015-16 academic year, in the wake of Dr William Mundt’s retirement. This allows the seminary to delay the calling of a new faculty member for one year, which was desirable for a number of reasons. We look forward to Esko’s arrival!