Report on our Seminary
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” —II Timothy 2:15
Many thanks are due to the Triune God for providing, in His grace and mercy, for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of precious, blood-bought souls, our seminary, as well as our current fifth year student, Mr. Paul E. Bloedel. “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
Student Bloedel and his bride are residing at 22012 Torrence Avenue, Sauk Village, IL 60411. Their home is the parsonage for St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, a member congregation of the Fellowship of Lutheran Congregations (F. L. C.), in fellowship with the Concordia Lutheran Conference. Communication with them may also take place via (708) 757-6859 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not hesitate to “touch base” with them.
As this report is being compiled, ten weeks of the winter semester of classes have been completed, with the following details provided, to demonstrate that both the instruction given to Mr. Bloedel and the labor put forth by him in his classes are intended to please God, “to show (him) approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth,” in gratitude for Christ’s substitutionary life, death and resurrection for the whole world of sinners (II Corinthians 5:15; John 3:16-17; I John 2:2; 4:19; I Timothy 2:5-6;)
_ On the first Monday of each month, the student preaches a homily for the Weekly Chapel Worship Service (8:30 a.m.), attended by the students and faculty of St. Mark’s Lutheran School, plus parents and anyone else interested in this Worship opportunity.
_ Christian Dogmatics – This class meets from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the basement of St. Mark’s Church. The textbooks used are Holy Scripture, Mueller’s Christian Dogmatics, Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics (Vol. III), and other supplementary materials. Up to this point in the semester, the focus has been on the doctrines of the Church and the Ministry. The student has written two one-page summary statements for publication in the Sunday bulletins of St. Mark’s and Trinity, Oak Park: the first on the Communion of Saints (the One, Holy, Christian Church); the second on the local congregation.
_ Comparative Symbolics – The time slot for this class is 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., once again, held at St. Mark’s. The main textbooks are Popular Symbolics (edited by Engelder, et al.) and Religious Bodies in America by Mayer. During the first ten weeks, attention has been given to the doctrine and practice of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Student Bloedel has written a tract on each of these churches, pin-pointing their wrong stance with careful documentation, while, at the same time, directing the reader to the right doctrine and practice built solely on God’s Word. As in this important course we systematically examine and expose the false, man-made false doctrines of heterodox churches, organizations, and the anti-Christian cults, which always oppose the truth, we also continue to review the sound, faithful doctrines of Scripture as they are set forth in the orthodox Lutheran Church.
_ Pastoral Theology – This class, scheduled for 1:00 through 4:00 p.m. at St. Mark’s, is one of two classes which are “team-taught,” that is, both Pastors Mensing and Lietz are involved in the instruction and discussion. [Pastor Mensing drives to Sauk Village for this class.] Much time was spent, for example, in thoroughly going over the doctrine of the call into the pastoral office. Also, one whole class period was set aside for sitting down with the three wives (Mrs. Bloedel, Mrs. Mensing, and Mrs. Lietz) to discuss the place of and share experiences concerning the pastor’s wife and her great importance in her husband’s work. This was a very profitable session. The textbook (in addition to God’s Word ) for this course is Fritz’s Pastoral Theology, and a supplementary text is Walther’s Pastoral Theology (American Translation).
_ The Seminary Faculty, on at least three Tuesdays of each month, meets from 4:00 to about 5:30 p.m. to consult together, to plan joint coursework, to share teaching strategies and materials, to examine one another’s tests and standards, and to evaluate the student’s performance. Such regular consultation has been of tremendous value.
_ Comparative Symbolics – Since this is a three-hour class (and only two hours could be “squeezed” in on Monday, one more hour (6:00 – 7:00 p.m.) of this class is “picked up” on Tuesdays. Pertinent sections of Scripture, such as Psalm 119:104-105, Ephesians 6:10-17, and Romans 3:20-28, have been memorized by the student in order to make him ever more adept at using the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
_ Liturgics and Hymnology – This class meets from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Peace, Oak Forest. During the first ten weeks, based upon summary materials developed by the instructor, lecture presentations, and the examination of pictorial examples, church art and architecture were explored, including structures, ecclesiastical furnishings, equipment, and vestments, both functional and decorative. The purposes for worship were reviewed, that is, to praise and honor God and to edify us through His Word; and, using F. R. Webber’s book on the liturgy as an additional resource, forms of worship were studied as they developed over the course of history, many of them going back to the Old Testament, with most of our liturgical forms having been taken directly or indirectly from God’s Word. Besides studying the content and becoming intimately familiar with our common orders of service, some time will yet be spent in the writing of formal church prayers and in the conducting of the Lutheran liturgy, both in classroom situations and in the public divine service. Liturgics will take up the bulk of the first semester’s course, while the second semester will focus on Hymnology.
_ Church History (20th Century) – From 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., this class also takes place at Oak Forest. Before beginning the scheduled study of contemporary church history, it was necessary to backtrack to the late 17th and the 18th centuries and to the political pressures that gave rise to the colonization of the New World by religious denominations seeking freedom to preach and practice without state interference. This study included the coming of the first Lutherans to our shores and the establishment of the first Lutheran synod. Thereafter (and projected to continue through the rest of the winter semester), an intensive study of the 19th Century was undertaken, including the formation of the General Synod and of the General Council by their constituent synods, the immigration of the Saxons, Franks and Bavarians from Germany to “escape” the Prussian Union, the founding of the Missouri, Ohio and Iowa synods, and the organization of the Synodical Conference. The spring semester will finally focus on the 20th Century and the contemporary situation in outward Lutheranism, particularly in this country. Qualben’s History of The Christian Church, W. G. Polack’s The Building of a Great Church, Wolf’s Documents of Lutheran Unity in America, and Bente’s two-volume American Lutheranism are some of the texts and reference works used thus far for this course. Other texts and a wide variety of primary documents will be added in the second semester.
Pastor Lietz teaches Dogmatics V and Comparative Symbolics; Pastor Mensing teaches Liturgics and Hymnology and Church History. Both instructors together co-teach Pastoral Theology and Homiletics III, and both share the supervision of the student’s practicum in the three local congregations served by the pastors. Mr. Bloedel is a communicant and voting member of Peace Ev. Lutheran Church in Oak Forest, teaches the Sunday morning Adult Bible Class there on the first Sunday of the month, and participates in the meetings of its Voters’ Assembly. But he is resident in Sauk Village; and there, at St. Mark’s, he teaches Bible Class on the third Sunday, is scheduled to prepare the weekly bulletin, attends various classes and meetings as assigned, and accompanies Pastor Lietz on nursing home and hospital calls whenever possible. Student Bloedel also teaches the Bible Class on each third Sunday at Trinity in Oak Park. Thus the student’s practicum this year is giving him unparalleled experience in a broad variety of activities in three congregational settings and an ideal opportunity both to observe and to practice what he is learning in Liturgics and in Pastoral Theology.
For Homiletics III, Student Bloedel has been preparing and delivering, on average, two sermons per month. He preaches on the second Sunday of each month at Peace, and on the fourth Sunday of each month at Trinity in the morning and at St. Mark’s in the evening. In addition, he preached on Christmas Day at St. Mark’s and on Second Christmas Day at Peace Congregation’s chapel in Midland, Michigan. For the coming Lenten season, he has been assigned to develop a series of seven Lenten meditations which he will then preach beginning on Ash Wednesday in the midweek Lenten services at Peace. He will also conduct the liturgy at each of those vesper services. Each of his sermons thus far has been video-taped, both for the joint evaluation of the instructors and for his own self-evaluation; and such will continue until the end of his training. This procedure has proved to be very helpful, particularly in examining and improving his sermon delivery.
We ask your prayers and intercessions (Philippians 4:6) particularly for Student Bloedel, that he may, by the Savior’s rich grace (II Corinthians 8:9), continue to “study to show [himself] approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15), and that he “hold fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9), ever remembering that “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28).
—R. J. L.