The Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. has announced his decision to retire as president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), following the completion of the 2023–2024 academic year. Rast informed the CTSFW Board of Regents about his decision at their fall meeting on Sept. 27 and announced it to the CTSFW campus community on Sept. 28.
“I love this seminary,” Rast said during his announcement at CTSFW’s Kramer Chapel. “I have been incredibly blessed and honored to serve as president for the past 13 years alongside the faithful and gifted people of the CTSFW community. I know this decision may come as a surprise to some, but it comes after much thought and prayer. … I am proud of all that our Lord has accomplished through this wonderful seminary and am confident that He will continue to guide us in the years ahead.”
Rast was elected CTSFW president in May 2011. He was reappointed by the Board of Regents to additional five-year terms in 2016 and 2021. He is the 16th president since CTSFW’s founding in 1846.
Rast said that stepping down as president would enable him to finish writing books he has not had time to finish as president and to spend more time in the classroom teaching students, adding, “Doing this now will enable me to be a better historian, professor, author, husband, father and grandfather and to devote myself to these vocations.”
Rast’s intent to continue his service as a faculty member at CTSFW was affirmed by the Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, chair of the CTSFW Board of Regents. “President Rast is respected across the Synod and globe for his theological leadership and understanding of pastoral and diaconal formation, in particular,” said Murray. “While we will miss him as president, we know that it is critically important for Dr. Rast to continue to serve Christ’s church with his gifts. His unique expertise on the Lutheran church in America requires him to write and to teach with lasting impact long into the future.”
CTSFW Provost Rev. Dr. Charles A. Gieschen echoed the praise for Rast. “Speaking on behalf of the faculty and staff, I want to express what a great blessing President Rast’s theological and administrative leadership has been to this seminary,” Gieschen said. “He has fully given of himself in so many ways to further the mission of this seminary and Christ’s church throughout the world, especially through the formation of many faithful Lutheran pastors and deaconesses that takes place here daily. It has been a joy and privilege to serve with him during his presidency. We continue to hold him in the highest esteem.” Gieschen further reflected, “While a transition is ahead for him and the seminary in 2024, the faculty is very thankful that he will continue his teaching here in the years ahead as professor of historical theology.”
During Rast’s tenure, the seminary completed several building projects, including the library expansion; eliminated its institutional debt; and tripled its endowment while also moving to a 100% tuition guarantee for all pastoral and diaconal residential students. CTSFW also updated and expanded its academic offerings, revamping its Master of Divinity curriculum and Doctor of Ministry program and adding a Master of Arts in Deaconess Studies, a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies, a Spanish-track Specific Ministry Pastor program, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies. CTSFW continued to expand its global impact through its partnership with Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic.
“CTSFW is about to take its next deep dive in strategic planning for the future, which will include a new campus master plan. It makes sense for the man who will see these projects through to completion to be at the helm in the planning stages,” said Rast. “I am excited about the future for CTSFW because the Lord is in this place. He has seen us through many changes and challenges over the past 178 years, and He will continue to guide our work in the years to come.”
The search for Rast’s successor has begun. Read the call for nominations.
Posted Oct. 27, 2023