The Rev. Dr. Richard J. Serina Jr. has accepted the call to serve as associate executive director of the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR). He replaces the Rev. Dr. Larry Vogel, who retired in January after 12 years in the position.
The CTCR voted unanimously to call Serina at their May meeting. He accepted the call in June and began work in August.
The Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, CTCR executive director, said, “Dr. Serina comes extremely well-prepared and well-suited to tackle the significant challenges and responsibilities of his new office. His previous service on the CTCR and in other Synod and district leadership roles equips him to hit the ground running, as he has already proven ready and willing to do.
“I am very thankful to have him on staff as a gifted and highly capable colleague, and I look forward to our work together in service to Christ, the Synod, the wider church and the world.”
Serina comes to the CTCR from Ringwood, N.J., where he had been pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church since February 2015. During his tenure at Christ the King, he also served as secretary of the LCMS New Jersey District, coordinator of pastors’ conferences for the district, and a member of the CTCR by appointment of the LCMS Council of Presidents.
Serina earned his doctorate in historical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, where he was also guest professor of historical theology and a fellow at the Center for Reformation Research. He has taught at multiple Synod institutions, written or co-edited several books, and published numerous essays and book chapters.
Serina said the transition from parish ministry to service at the LCMS International Center (IC) has been complicated during COVID-19 by the challenge of not being able to fully pursue “the collaborative approach to theology that makes the CTCR what it is.” Nevertheless, he is looking forward to working with the “immensely talented, capable clergy, theologians and laity who contribute untold competencies and specialties that enrich our life together so that we can articulate our theological heritage of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions in a clear, coherent, persuasive and winsome manner.”
Serina enjoys running and spending time with his family. His wife, Christina, is a registered nurse who is currently homeschooling their five children, who range in age from 1 to 12.
Although retired, Vogel remains on staff with the CTCR in a part-time, deployed capacity as assistant to the executive director. Lehenbauer, reflecting on Vogel’s service, described him as “a treasured and trusted colleague, gifted theologian and model churchman. I am delighted that he will remain on staff, even in a limited capacity, assisting in much the same way as before his retirement.”
For his years of service to the church, Vogel received an honorary doctorate from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, at its May commencement.
Vogel said, “I thank God for having called me to work with Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, the CTCR staff and all the wonderful men and women who have been members of the CTCR over the years I was associate executive director. That I can continue to serve part-time assisting the commission is also an honor and joy.
“The LCMS is richly blessed in having Dr. Lehenbauer’s leadership and knowledge in such a significant capacity and will be further blessed by the service of Dr. Serina. His intellect and his steadfast commitment to Scripture and the Confessions will be an ongoing gift to all of us.”
An installation service for Serina has been delayed due to COVID-19 protocols at the IC. He is scheduled to be installed at the March 2021 meeting of the CTCR, with Vogel being honored at the same meeting.
Posted Dec. 4, 2020