Seminary's Johnson takes call to River Forest

Dr. John F. Johnson, president and professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, has accepted a call to serve as the 10th president of Concordia University, River Forest, Ill.
 
Johnson plans to serve as the seminary’s president through Nov. 2.  He will be installed in his new position during a Nov. 7 worship service at the Chapel of Our Lord, on the Concordia University campus, with Synod President Gerald Kieschnick officiating.  The academic inauguration is scheduled for Nov. 12 in the university’s gymnasium.
 
“We are very pleased that Dr. Johnson accepted the call to lead Concordia University,” said Rev. William Ameiss, chairman of the university’s board of regents.  “He brings more than 20 years of seasoned leadership experience in many capacities, including pastoral ministry in the LCMS, scholarship, teaching, and administration in higher education.”
 
Concordia University was established as Concordia Teachers Seminary in 1864 in Addison, Ill., and has been located in River Forest since 1913.  Today it is a liberal arts university with 1,200 undergraduate and more than 700 graduate students.
 
Johnson announced his acceptance of the call at a Sept. 27 meeting of seminary faculty and staff, and he shared his thoughts about the opportunity to serve as a Lutheran university president.
 
“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,” Johnson said.   “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.”
 
He continued, “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?”  So, he has decided, he said, “that the call to Concordia University, River Forest, is what I would like to do.”
 
Johnson, who first joined the seminary faculty in 1977, has more than 25 years of experience at Concordia Seminary and is in his 15th year as president.  Prior to his installation as seminary president, Johnson served from 1989 to 1990 as president of Concordia College (now University) in St. Paul, Minn.  At the St. Louis seminary, he has served as academic dean (1986-89), chairman of the systematic theology department (1981-86) and professor of systematic theology.
 
Rev. Glen Thomas, vice president for seminary relations, said the seminary community is “experiencing a wide range of feelings” about Johnson’s decision.  “There is a sense of gratitude to God for the many blessings which have been received during Dr. Johnson’s presidency,” Thomas said.  “There is also the sense of deep sadness that accompanies any pending goodbye of this type.”
 
The seminary’s board of regents plans to meet Oct. 18 to name an interim president and to elect a search committee that will oversee the process of securing the institution’s next president.

Posted Oct. 1, 2004

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