By Joe Isenhower Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The first executive director has been named for the Synod’s first office in Washington, D.C., in 17 years.
The board of directors of the new Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty (LCRL) has received a letter from the Rev. Dr. Gregory P. “Greg” Seltz — speaker for “The Lutheran Hour” since 2011 — informing the board that he officially accepts its call to fill the LCRL executive-director post.
The LCRL provides input, education, advice and resources in the areas of marriage, life issues and religious liberty and seeks to actively engage in discussions and establish partnerships, as appropriate, with individuals and groups in Washington, D.C.
Seltz: ‘Joy’ and ‘privilege’
“What a joy to have served our Church being the Lutheran Hour speaker, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the radio each week,” Seltz said. “But, what a privilege now to accept the call to lead the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, to serve all of our churches, schools and universities by ensuring that their voices continue to be heard, serving the cause of religious liberty for all of our people so that God’s Word will indeed not be bound, but go forth and bear much fruit.”
After a transition period at Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM — sponsor of “The Lutheran Hour”) and orientation for his new position with the Synod, Seltz will relocate from St. Louis to head the LCRL office in Washington. It has been 17 years since the Synod last had an office and staff in the nation’s capital.
“Greg Seltz is an extraordinary, very gifted individual,” said Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, who is president of the four-member LCRL board.
In his June 6 message to the church body announcing the call to Seltz, Harrison noted that the board “sought an individual with theological depth, a spirit of entrepreneurialism, strong communication and relationship skills, and the ability to carefully navigate the political environment in our nation’s capital. … We believe that Dr. Seltz can fulfill this role with the integrity, professionalism and commitment required to make the LCRL a permanent voice for confessional Lutheranism in Washington, D.C.”
Harrison later told Reporter that Seltz “understands the great gift of the Lutheran Two-Kingdoms doctrine — the teachings of the secular and spiritual realms — how they interact, how they’re a blessing to each other and how they ought to be carefully distinguished.” He noted that this doctrine is the subject of Seltz’s current doctoral studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
‘A great communicator’
He also spoke of Seltz as “a great communicator. The future of the LCRL is very bright as we take our place on Capitol Hill to advocate for religious freedom.”
Harrison noted that the Synod’s interests “on [Capitol] Hill” continue to be advocated by others such as the Becket Fund, Alliance Defending Freedom, The Heritage Foundation and LCMS congressional representatives,” and that “we look forward to networking with many more who share our concerns.”
He added that although erosion of religious liberty has lessened somewhat with the Republican administration in Washington, “issues further threatening those freedoms continue apace. … It simply is not right for us not to have direct representation there.”
“Now, with the naming of Greg Seltz as the [LCRL] executive director, we believe that we have great impetus to move forward,” Harrison said. “People are very excited about the LCRL and want to help out.”
Two other members of the LCRL board — Timothy Goeglein, vice-president for External Relations at Focus on the Family in Washington, D.C., and Concordia University System President Rev. Dr. Dean O. Wenthe — also commented on Seltz accepting the call.
Long time coming
“The LCRL board and many in the LCMS have worked for many years to come to this important and pivotal moment,” said Goeglein. “We are excited to work with Greg and have every confidence in his ability to speak boldly into this cultural moment in the public arena of our beloved country. Marriage, human life, and religious liberty and conscience comprise a dynamic, central, and fundamental core of issues that are hotly contested. We shall welcome his clarity, courage, and clear-eyed nurture and defense of all we believe as Christians in 21st century America. We know the grace, mercy and goodness of Jesus Christ will lead Greg as he navigates the shoals of our culture and our era.”
“It is a delight to learn that the Rev. Dr. Greg Seltz has accepted the leadership role in Synod’s Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty,” Wenthe said. “Dr. Seltz brings a remarkable skill set to this calling at a time when the Church’s role in the public square is increasingly challenged. His experience as a pastor, … a professor … and as Lutheran Hour speaker has given him extensive exposure to the cultural and social realities that shape American culture. As a superlative communicator and one well-versed in the Two-Kingdom perspective of confessional Lutheranism, his voice will prove to be both informed and nuanced to reach the multiple audiences and constituencies of Washington, D.C. May the Lord bless his labors so that the Church’s confession and practice might be spoken with such charity and clarity that many will be influenced to act on behalf of religious liberty.”
In addition to serving as speaker for LHM’s “The Lutheran Hour,” Seltz is the organization’s spiritual leader, evangelist and ministry emissary.
Before joining Lutheran Hour Ministries in 2011, Seltz served as director of the Cross-Cultural Ministry Center and held other positions at Concordia University Irvine, Irvine, Calif., and executive director of Life’s Journey Ministries and founding pastor of Church for All Nations in New York City. Prior to that, he started a mission congregation in Dallas and was pastor of a congregation in Tampa, Fla.
A 1986 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Seltz was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree from Concordia, Irvine, and is nearing completion of the St. Louis seminary’s Ph.D. program.
He and his wife, Marie Yvette, are the parents of a daughter, Devin.
Posted June 20, 2017