E-lert - March 2013

May God be with us

The last few months have been hard ones here at Luther Seminary. We recently announced the difficult decision to reduce staff, faculty and programs in an effort to lower our annual operating expenses. It is incredibly painful to say goodbye to talented and faithful friends and colleagues.

On March 19, we notified 18 staff people that their positions were being eliminated. As you can imagine, those were extremely difficult discussions. In addition, three staff decided to retire and nine open positions will not be filled. That means a reduction of 30 staff positions out of a total of 125. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin this transitional time in their lives.

Eight faculty members have announced their decisions to retire or take a new call by June 30. In total, there are currently 44 faculty positions. Additional faculty members have declared their plans to retire in the following year. While we were aware of some of these retirements, it is still sobering to see so many gifted professors leave at the same time.

As previously announced, the Master of Sacred Music program will remain on hold. We will accompany the two remaining students as they complete their degrees. In the Ph.D. program, we will not admit new students for the next three years. During this time, we will continue to support our current Ph.D. students as usual. The faculty has committed to exploring new options for the Ph.D. program, seeking a model that continues to offer high-quality curriculum and is financially viable for the future. We have also made the difficult decision, for financial reasons, to close Wee Care, our early childhood education program.

As we make these announcements, I am deeply aware of the sadness in our community. I wish things were different. And I am hopeful that better days will come. Many have asked how they can help. We thank you for your thoughts during these hard times and we covet your prayers, especially for those directly affected by layoffs. We also welcome your financial gifts, so we can continue to fulfill our mission of educating future leaders for the church.

In coming months, alumni and donors will receive invitations detailing how they can help Luther Seminary at this time. Please check your inbox or mail for messages about how you can help.

I keep returning to the verses in Romans that have been my anchor these past months: "... Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." — Romans 8:35ff

May God be with us all as we seek his guidance, comfort and peace.

In Christ,
Rick