The fall semester at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary opened in the beginning of September with the traditional barbecue in Burgoyne Woods, followed by the faculty-student retreat in Niagara Falls a week later. This year CLTS was honoured to host an international guest at the opening retreat, when the bishop emeritus of our sister church in Germany (SELK), Rev. Dr Jobst Schöne, spoke to the students on the role of ministry in the shaping of Lutheran identity.
Sunday, 10 September, saw the seminary community celebrate the opening service of the new academic year 2017-18. In the service two new faculty members were installed as assistant professors: Rev. Dr Harold Ristau, who has previously served in the chaplaincy of the armed forces, and Rev. Esko Murto, who has already served in the seminary as a visiting scholar since August 2015. Guest preacher in the service was Dr Naomichi Masaki, Rev. Murto’s old teacher from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
The opening service was immediately followed by a theological conference celebrating the 500 year anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, under the title “The Reformation of Worship and Preaching”.
Bishop Schöne took the role of a theological “mythbuster” in his evening lecture, “Luther without Fake News”. Through his presentation it was revealed e.g. that Luther probably never threw an inkwell at the devil at the Wartburg Castle, neither did he say anything about planting apple trees just before world’s ending. Bishop Schöne revealed that the monk-who-left-monastery, Martin Luther, was the last of the brothers to actually leave the Black Cloister in Wittenberg, and in subsequent years sought to bring many good devotional practices from monastic orders to the life of common Christians–such as daily devotions, regular confession and absolution, and the study of Scriptures.
Other speakers in the conference were Dr Fredrik Sidenvall from Sweden, who studied Luther’s Christmas sermons from the viewpoint of modern theories of attachment, Dr John Stephenson, who examined the impact of the Reformation on soteriology, i.e. the question of how man is saved. Dr James Keller shared his insights on Luther’s 95 Theses and their ecumenical significance.
The conference also saw the festive opening of the Reformation Rare Book Room in the Martin Chemnitz library. Housing a collection of old theological volumes, the Rare Book Room serves as a concrete symbol of the continuity of the church.