Archived Sections, National Lutheran News

Johnson leaving St. Louis Seminary presidency

He has accepted a call to serve Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois

Dr. John F. Johnson, president and professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, has received and accepted a call to serve as the 10th president of Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois. He will end his 15-year tenure at the St. Louis Seminary on November 2, and will be inaugurated at River Forest on November 12.
Previous to taking the call to lead the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) largest theological school, Johnson had served as president of Concordia College (now University), St. Paul, Minnesota.
Johnson will face financial challenges in River Forest. The school, part of the LCMS Concordia University System, has in recent years struggled with deficits which led to significant staff and faculty layoffs.
Discussing his decision with members of the Seminary’s faculty and staff, the departing president said, “The purpose of Concordia Seminary is to prepare men for the vocation of pastor. Also, as Lutherans, there is another dimension to the concept of vocation, and that is to prepare laypeople and other church workers for dedicated service in society. We are at a critical point in our church, I think, in defining … what it is to have liberal arts universities in the Lutheran tradition.”
The liberal arts tradition is a more familiar concept in the larger Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), all of whose colleges and universities consider themselves “liberal arts” schools.
Johnson said, “Could it not be exciting and interesting to call to the church’s mind the importance of the broader dimension of vocation and what it might mean for this church to have a true liberal arts university dedicated to the highest qualities of scholarship?”