Partnering together for the sake of the Gospel: Concordia University St. Paul and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

“But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do” (Acts 9:6). With these words, Jesus calls Saul of Damascus to go into the city in preparation for the beginning of his ministry as Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Through the centuries, the risen Lord has continued to call his church to enter into cities in order to prepare for and engage in mission, ministry, and works of mercy and justice among neighbors of all nations. In people’s minds, the multiethnic city often evokes paradoxical images of creativity and dysfunction, development and poverty, growth and decline. The city is complex, filled with contradictions and possibilities. It is also ripe for the hopeful church to listen to and address city dwellers’ struggles and aspirations with the light and joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The 2022 Multiethnic Symposium, “Rise and Enter the City”: The Hopeful Church in the Multiethnic City,” is co-sponsored with Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota (CSP). Concordia University is located in the Midway district of St. Paul and the Lex-Ham neighborhood. This is a dynamic, diverse, and exciting place to live and work. God’s redeeming and saving love shown to all in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is what empowers the faculty, staff, and students at CSP to live with and love our neighbors within our university. In this urban context, CSP empowers students to discover and engage their purpose for life, career and service in a dynamic, multicultural, urban environment where Christ is honored, all are welcome, and Lutheran convictions inform intellectual inquiry and academic pursuits.

“I am thrilled to co-chair this year’s Multiethnic Symposium with Dr. Leo Sanchez,” said Dr. Mark Koschmann, urban scholar and Theology professor at Concordia University, St. Paul. “We have an amazing opportunity to collaborate together by drawing on the unique urban and multiethnic experiences at Concordia St. Paul together with the expertise and theological depth offered by speakers and faculty from Concordia St. Paul and Concordia Seminary St. Louis.”

This year’s Multiethnic Symposium features a range of speakers who will share their scholarly expertise, practical mission urban experience, and Lutheran theological perspective to thoughtful explore the challenges and opportunities of the city. The goal of the Multiethnic Symposium is spark productive discussions, equip for service to God and humanity, and encourage thoughtful and informed living in the context of the Christian Gospel.

“The city is not only becoming the church’s most obvious mission field, but also the most visible expression of the church catholic proper and the launching pad for mission to the world in its own right,” said Dr. Leopoldo A. Sánchez M., co-chairman of the symposium planning committee and the Seminary’s Werner R.H. Krause and Elizabeth Ringger Krause Professor of Hispanic Ministries, professor of Systematic Theology and director of the Center for Hispanic Studies. “The 2022 Multiethnic Symposium at Concordia Seminary welcomes your participation and contributions toward a theology and practice of urban ministry today. Join us! All are welcome!”

President Brian Friedrich (Concordia University, St. Paul) expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership between these two great synodical institutions. He writes, “It is my prayer that the Multiethnic Symposium builds up and strengthens our collective Lutheran engagement with the city. As Christians today, we are in a pivotal position to witness the faith that fills us and to be salt and light in a city, nation, and world that more than anything needs ‘the peace of Christ which far surpasses all human understanding’ (Phil. 4:7).”

Concordia Seminary St. Louis (CSL) is also partnering with CSP to offer an online course on Missional Leadership in the Urban Context for pastoral continuing education. The course is taught by Dr. Leo Sanchez, professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Center for Hispanic Studies at Concordia Seminary; Dr. Mark Koschmann, Associate Vice President of Faith and Ministry at Concordia University St. Paul; and Dr. Gerard Bolling, pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and Assistant Professor of Leadership and Theology at Concordia University Texas.

Speaking about the upcoming partnership course between CSP and CSL, Koschmann shares, “This course is focused on developing Christ-centered, mission-minded leaders for congregational and non-profit ministry in urban and metropolitan areas around the country. This six-part series is designed to prepare Christians to engage the many diverse people living in American cities so that all may hear the Gospel proclaimed to them.”

In addition, this winter’s Concordia Journal on theology and ministry in the city and urban contexts is a partner issue between CSP and CSL with articles by Mark Koschmann, Reed Lessing, Leo Sánchez, and Douglas Rutt.

Understanding life, ministry, and mission in the multiethnic city calls for the capacity to analyze and interpret the challenges and opportunities of urban ministry today with biblical and theological depth. Through analysis, reflection, and discernment, participants at these events will gain insights to a Lutheran theology of urban ministry for the church that will inspire and guide intercultural engagement with neighbors of different ethnic backgrounds living in the complex urban landscapes of our day.

According to Koschmann, “This is vital for us as Christians today as we consider our interaction with the many diverse people living in America’s cities and the host of challenges unique to urban ministry. We will share theological and missional insights for doing urban ministry today, so we can better communicate the Gospel to people unfamiliar with God and the church.”

Registration for the 2022 Multiethnic Symposium and the CSP-CSL partner course on Missional Leadership in the Urban Context are now live.

We look forward to having you join us as we partner together to engage the city with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Mark Koschmann

Dr. Mark Koschmann is the Chair of Theology and Ministry Department and Associate Vice President of Faith and Ministry at Concordia University, St. Paul MN

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