St. John's is a proud member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Here you can find the latest news from the Synod and Witness, Mercy, and Life Together.
Rear Admiral Daniel Gard seems to have done it all. He’s taught future LCMS pastors how to read Hebrew, won meritorious service medals in his extended military career and comforted grieving families at the Pentagon on September 11 in his role as chaplain.
He’s ministered to military and civilian personnel at Guantanamo Bay, served as pastor in a Midwestern parish and,
only months ago, was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the 18th Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Reserve Matters.
Some days he’s buried in textbooks in his office at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., where he serves as professor of Exegetical Theology. On others, he’s in uniform in his Pentagon office, where he tends to the pastoral care of sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
And he’s just getting started. On Friday, May 30, Gard was elected 11th president of Concordia University Chicago (CUC), located in River Forest, Ill. “The word ‘honored,’” he says when considering his election, “doesn’t quite cover it.”
“Admiral Gard is an outstanding choice,” notes the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). “This kind of leadership quality comes only occasionally in the church. CUC and Dr. Gard remain in our prayers as the call is considered.”
“Concordia University Chicago can rejoice in the election of Dan Gard,” agrees the Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, president of the Concordia University System. “President-elect Gard brings outstanding academic credentials, a rich administrative experience and a winsome Christian vision to the university.”
The oldest in the Concordia University System, which is comprised of 10 LCMS colleges and universities, CUC is currently celebrating its 150th academic school year. The university’s influence on Lutheran education, and specifically that of church work careers, Gard notes, has been significant in the history of the LCMS.
“Concordia University Chicago is an historic Lutheran school with a long and distinguished record of service to the Church and to the world,” he says. “For 150 years, Concordia has exemplified the Lutheran tradition of serious scholarship rooted in the certain conviction that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. By keeping Christ at the center and with a strong identity as a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod university, that record of service will continue far into the future under the mercy and grace of God.”
Gard’s talents — a varied set honed on the battlefield, in the classroom and at the bedside — will be a great blessing to the school, Wenthe believes. His gifts “are imbedded in a caring, pastoral heart that faculty, staff and students will find refreshing and inspiring.”
His pastoral care for those men and women — and his students at the seminary — hasn’t gone unnoticed. “In a culture that increasingly reduces humanity to no more than passing material beings, Dr. Gard will witness to the beauty, wonder and truths of Christ’s love for each and every human being as so clearly portrayed in sacred Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions,” Wenthe says.
“We are very proud of and exceedingly thankful for Dr. Daniel Gard,” agrees the Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. “For over 25 years, he has used his God-given gifts in exemplary service to the Synod at Concordia Theological Seminary and in the Navy Reserve. His proven ability to work with people from all backgrounds and abilities will serve Concordia University Chicago well, should he be led by God’s Spirit to accept this call.”
As Gard — who was given 15 days to accept or decline the election — deliberates, he is encouraged by the good gifts God has in store for CUC. “The best days of Concordia are not the days of the past but the future into which God will lead,” he explains. “I will be praying for the university as I have been for quite a while: that it will always have a self-identity as part of the educational mission of the LCMS, and that it will maintain a close connection to the Synod.”
“CUC has a unique urban environment, a rich history and strong academics,” he says. “But most especially, it is a place where Jesus Christ is at the center. This is the university that doesn’t belong to us; it belongs to Christ, serving both the Church and the world.”
You’re tired of hearing about Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court, tired of all the talk of fines and health-care plans and reproductive rights, tired of being bombarded with words spoken in anger from both sides of the aisle. You want to put your fingers in your ears, switch the channel, and wait for the ruling and the rest of it to just go away.
But even though you are tired, even though you’ve grown weary of having the same discussions about the same points, Hobby Lobby and fines and health-care plans still matter. They matter because your country – the United States of America – was founded on the principle that you were born with certain rights: the rights to seek and follow truth, to live according to your beliefs, to worship freely.
And no one, not even the government, gets to tell you how to do that.
Today, our federal government threatens that right, consistently refusing to protect religious liberty as our Constitution and the laws of nature demand. In the dozens of cases against the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate, the government has started dictating the boundaries of religious beliefs, and to pick and choose which beliefs – and which individuals – deserve religious liberty protection.
The contraceptive mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, requires employers to provide a full range of 20 FDA-approved contraceptive devices, drugs and services in their health-care plans. These include “emergency contraceptives” with the ability to prevent implantation of an embryo – in other words, the ability to end a human life. Catholics, Lutherans, and many other Americans find these drugs morally reprehensible. Yet, though objections to the mandate are strong and numerous – with over 90 lawsuits filed so far – the government has simply swept them aside.
The mandate’s provisions allow for very narrow exemptions for houses of worship. Exemptions do not extend even to affiliates of those houses of worship; for example, a Catholic order of nuns, operating homes for the elderly poor, is not exempt. Nor are Christian colleges, nor are thousands of other religious non-profit organizations, which serve the public good.
In the case of the non-profits, the government has come up with an empty “accommodation” that would force organizations to sign HHS forms directing third-party administrators to provide the drugs that the organizations cannot. As one plaintiff, the Little Sisters of the Poor, explained, these forms are nothing more than permission slips. The Little Sisters cannot direct someone else to act immorally, just as they cannot act immorally themselves. The government has branded this particular belief meaningless.
Neither the exemption nor the false “accommodation” extends to individuals who run their own businesses, like David and Barbara Green, owners of Hobby Lobby. The Greens morally oppose providing drugs that can prevent implantation and have filed suit against HHS, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. In the Greens’ case, the government claims that moral convictions must be abandoned at the door of the workplace. The Greens may not run their own companies according to their consciences. Or, in return for staying true to their convictions, they will be forced to pay crushing fines.
The government’s distinctions under the mandate don’t make sense. The government does not get to reduce God and the way in which He works down to what happens only in church or worship. By its definition, religious liberty stipulates that a church – not the government – must be permitted to form its own definition and its own boundaries.
Moreoever, God uses each of us in our vocations to serve those around us. This call to serve others and live according to our beliefs extends beyond our houses of worship, into our homes, our communities, and our work. To prevent individuals from following the dictates of their consciences is an abuse of power and a gross infringement on human dignity.
As the leader of a Christian church body, I strongly object to the government’s approach of picking and choosing whose beliefs merit consideration. Now, according to the government, Catholic nuns must authorize others to give out free contraceptives, and evangelical Christians must abandon their most deeply held convictions in the operations of their own businesses. What group, and what belief, will next be under attack?
Friends, we may be weary. We may be tired. But we must stand together to protect our God-given right to religious liberty. This mandate threatens not only those whose religions specifically compel them to oppose it, but all Americans. We cannot allow our government to define the content of our beliefs or the degree of their significance.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison is the current and 13th president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
The Final-Approval Committee for nominations for the president of
CUChicago met on March 3.
The following three candidates were approved:
Rev. Dr. Carl Fickenscher
Rev. Dr. Daniel Gard
Rev. Dr. Scott Murray.
Congratulations to these men! We pray for wisdom for the electors, that the Lord would place one whose knowledge, gifts, and talents would best serve Him at Concordia, at this juncture.
Dear Members of the Concordia University Community:
The Board of Regents of Concordia University Chicago, meeting in special session on Friday, February 14, selected the following five candidates for further consideration as the regents continue the presidential search process:
Rev. Dr. Gary Bertels–Elmhurst, IL
Rev. Dr. Carl Fickenscher II–Ft. Wayne, IN
Rev. Dr. Daniel Gard–Ft. Wayne, IN
Rev. Dr. Scott Murray–Houston, TX
Rev. Dr. Andrew Steinmann–Elmhurst, IL
These five individuals will be presented to the Prior Approval Panel on Monday, March 3, for their consideration.
As the university moves toward the election of a new president, please keep both the university and this election process in your personal prayers.
Please do not reply to this e-mail.
Rev. Gerald Schalk, S.T.D.
Presidential Search Committee of the Board of Regents
Concordia University Chicago
“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
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