The Seminary Guild is a precious treasure. This group of faithful women and men raises hundreds of membership fees each year in order to fund projects to support the students and mission of CLTS. Just as importantly, the members gather together twice a year for business, worship, entertainment, edification, and a good meal! As President Winger noted in his welcome, the gathering together of Christians beyond their local congregation is a vital part of what it means to be the church in this world.
On Saturday, 16 April 2016, 75 registered guests joined the seminary faculty, staff, and students for the annual spring Guild Day. After an opening hymn sing and Matins service, the business of the guild was quickly and lovingly conducted under the leadership of long-time guild president Judy Zastrow. The guild members re-elected Bonnie Stephenson as treasurer, Nancy Bryans as secretary, and elected Karen Kaija as membership secretary to replace the outgoing Liz Mellecke, to whom much thanks is due. Mary Silver continues as vice-president and Sara Winger as newsletter editor.
Many guild projects are ongoing, such as the donation of individual Communion sets to seminary graduates. The guild funded carpet and upholstery cleaning, and purchased a new set of cups for seminary hospitality. They also approved funding the cleaning of chapel vestments and purchase of a few new cassocks and surplices for the students to use when leading chapel. Major new projects will be proposed next year.
The day’s education and entertainment was provided by visiting professor Rev. Esko Murto. Under the title, “Sauna, Sibelius, and Salvation”, Prof. Murto introduced the group to Finnish culture. More importantly, he described the modest beginnings and explosive growth of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, a group that now numbers 30 congregations, 46 pastors (24 salaried), and about 2000 members. While 90% of Finns are members of the Lutheran state church, it has wandered far from the truth of Holy Scripture.
The Mission Diocese not only proclaims the pure Word of God in accord with the Lutheran Confession but–as its name declares–wants to bring this message to people hungering and thirsting for God. Rev. Murto described, on the one hand, the great tragedy of a state church that denies ordination to any candidate who wishes to hold to the traditional teaching of the church on issues like Communion fellowship, women’s ordination, and marriage. On the other hand, the media frenzy that ensued when one of their pastors asked a state church bishop not to commune at their altar brought the fledgling group nationwide attention and, ironically, contributed positively to its growth. What they meant for evil, the Lord turned to good.
At the close of the morning, the students introduced themselves and their families, and were able to eat lunch with visitors from their adoptive congregations.
More pictures of the day are available here.