Martin LutherMartin Luther

Lutheran Identity

Concordia is a place where Christ is honored and all are welcome.

Concordia University Texas is Austin’s leading Christian liberal arts university, where students of all backgrounds experience a high-quality education in a caring community rooted in the Lutheran tradition. 

At Concordia, we challenge students to think critically, explore fearlessly, and lead with courageous compassion. Our Christ-centered curriculum empowers students to make a meaningful impact, both in their vocation and by learning to serve their neighbors and communities. In our classrooms, students participate in open dialogue, receive personal attention from professors who are prepared to answer tough questions about the world, and learn the power of asking questions.

*This page was updated November 22, 2022.

Concordia University Texas

Lutheran Identity in Action
University Class

In the Classroom

Our approach to teaching and learning at Concordia is shaped by what we call the Lutheran Learning Model. Learn more about how this model guides and influences learning at CTX.

Here I Learn
Lutheran Teachings

In Our Vocations

Our Lutheran values enlighten and guide all of our journeys, no matter our roles at the University. Find out how we live out our organizational ethos in the Concordia Lutheran Identity Guide.

CTX Lutheran Identity Guide
Students at service

In Our Campus Ministry

Ministry is pervasive on campus, from chapel services and student-led worship to life groups and community outreach. Find out how our Campus Ministry team ensures students and employees encounter Christ at Concordia. 

Campus Ministry
Commitment to LCMS Theology and Doctrine

The Concordia University Texas Board of Regents affirms its alignment with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and commitment to the authority of Scripture and Lutheran Confessions. The Board is committed to continued service to the LCMS through church worker education and other partnerships and instituting a set of policies by which it will ensure an ongoing faithfulness to the LCMS and its teachings.

Governance Change

On November 8 2022, the Concordia University Texas Board of Regents voted to change its bylaws in such a way as to become the sole governing body of the institution.  The University has notified the CUS and the LCMS of this change and awaits conversation with those entities about how Concordia Texas can continue to operate in alignment with the LCMS.

Timeline of Board Decision

 

 

 

 

*Visit this website page for updates.

Letter from Dr. Donald Christian
Don Christian

As Concordia University Texas explores a change in the University’s governance, hear directly from Dr. Donald Christian, president and CEO, about the purpose and reasons influencing this governance conversation and what this means for the University’s future. 

Letter from the President 11/8/22

Letter from the President 6/6/22

Additional Information

The questions and answers below provide additional context about the potential governance change. If you have further questions, please email Dr. Kristi Kirk at Provost@concordia.edu.

  • Does this change represent a move to becoming a secular institution?

    Concordia has invested significant resources over the last 15 years to understand and reinvigorate its identity as a Lutheran university and is more intentional about its Lutheran identity than ever before.

    The history of higher education in America, specifically church-related higher education, is complex and should not be reduced to a simple phrase or single trajectory. Christian institutions across America have very different relationships with their church bodies, and many are thriving in their vocations as Christian colleges and universities. Hillsdale College, which many (even in our Synod) point to as the gold standard of Christian higher education, has no formal relationship with a church body and is purely self-governing, yet is seen by many as unwavering in its Christian liberal arts missions. Similarly, Luther Classical College, currently being developed in the Wyoming District of the LCMS, will have no formal governance affiliation with the LCMS.

    Concordia remains committed to doing the same, continuing what we have done since our founding in 1926 – providing Christ-centered higher education that is faithful to our Lutheran history, theology, and practice

  • What are the Demonstrations of Lutheran Identity?

    The CTX Board is developing a document known as “Demonstrations of Lutheran Identity,” which will replace the current Lutheran Identity Standards of the Concordia University System. It will provide accountability towards Lutheran doctrine and practice and be shared annually with the President of the Texas District and other interested parties and made available to the public. These Demonstrations of Lutheran Identity will transparently share how Concordia interprets and lives out its identity as a Lutheran institution of higher education.

  • How will this affect students in church work programs?

    At this point, CTX and the LCMS will now engage in a conversation about what a future relationship will entail. CTX is committed to continuing the preparation of students for church work in the LCMS and beyond. CTX also commits to identifying a process by which graduates can be certified before their first call; again, a lot of this will depend on any agreements between CTX and the LCMS.

  • How will Concordia participate in LCMS support agencies like Concordia Plan Services or the LCMS Foundation?

    Participation by CTX in any of the LCMS support agencies in the future will be determined by LCMS Policy, with the final determination being given by the LCMS Board of Directors. CTX currently participates in the retirement and insurance programs offered through Concordia Plan Services; it has a banking relationship with Lutheran Church Extension Fund; and the LCMS Foundation currently holds several of the school’s endowments.

  • Why is this change necessary?

    The governance relationship between the LCMS and its institutions of higher education goes back for decades (for more than 96 years, specifically for Concordia Texas) and has evolved many times over the years as the needs of both the institution and the Synod have changed.  This has been seen in various entities like the Board of Higher Education, the Board for University Services,  the current Concordia University System, and the potential Commission for University Education (see below).

    The evolution of this relationship to meet the current needs of both the Synod and the institution has been a regular part of the history of the Concordias. Many agree that a new evolution is necessary at this time, and the Synod has been working on a new proposal to be brought to the LCMS Convention in 2023, known as 703B,  which changes the governance structure yet again and creates a new entity called the Commission for University Education.

    It was this discussion around 703B that first led the Board of Regents of Concordia Texas to begin to consider the governance question in April of 2021.  The Board concurred that a change was needed - one that would ensure that the missions of both CTX and the LCMS flourish long into the future.  However, in fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities to both CTX and the LCMS, the CTX Board did not believe that the relationship proposed by 703B was the right governance model for either organization in the current context.  Therefore, the CTX Board has developed a new form of governance, by which Concordia University Texas will be solely governed by its Board of Regents while remaining in alignment with the doctrine and theology of the LCMS.

    Our prayerful hope is that this new form of governance will benefit both Concordia and the church.  This governance will allow for local control while ensuring that the University continues to be in alignment with the mission and ministry of the LCMS.

  • What are the benefits to CTX and the LCMS of this governance change?

    We believe that the best system of governance is one that is held by those closest to the institution while also being aligned theologically with the Church, as is the case for the governance of LCMS congregations.
    More specific benefits to this change include:

    • Matching authority with responsibility in the proper governing entity.  The current system of shared governance creates ambiguity, creating risk for both the school and the church.
    • Providing the CTX Board with the capacity to articulate the mission and vision appropriate to the university's specific context.
    • Empowering the CTX Board to shape itself and its membership in a way that is appropriate to the university's specific context.
    • Placing the authority to select the president in the proper entity.
    • Relieving the LCMS of responsibility for any possible legal liability, which can potentially occur with numerous potential incidents (as evidenced by legal complications with the recent closings of Concordia College Alabama, Concordia University Portland, and Concordia College New York). 
    • Relieving the university of the effects of the ambiguities and vacillations in policy by changes at the LCMS conventions
  • What does “aligned with” mean?

    We want and value a relationship with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

    The decision to change the form of governance simply reframes the nature of that relationship so that governance will be solely directed by the Board of Regents rather than shared with the Synod.

    This is not about theology or doctrine;  nor is the relationship with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod broken. Concordia University Texas is not cutting ties or seeking to become an independent or secular institution of higher education.

    This is about governance. It will allow the university to have the appropriate local control while planning for our future. 

    We are deeply thankful for our Lutheran theology, history, and practice, and we will continue to live out the mission of the church by remaining faithful to scripture and the confessions; engaging with the broader culture and being a light to the world; continuing to train workers for the church; sharing the gospel with students; and, partnering with LCMS entities to help them live out their mission.

    Concordia University Texas will:

    • Remain Christ-centered and committed to sharing the Gospel with students;
    • Continue to serve churches and schools, including preparing Church workers; 
    • Continue to be faithful to the centrality and authority of the scriptures;
    • Be faithful to the Lutheran Confessions.
    • Ensure that key administrative positions and Board members are active members of LCMS churches; 
    • Create a set of governing documents that ensure the institution will remain aligned with the LCMS long into the future.
  • What are the practical implications of this change?

    From a governance perspective, this change simply means that the CTX Board of Regents will be responsible for all of its own governance decisions without being subject to the bylaws of the LCMS.  Most directly, this will be seen in the selection of Board members and the President, which will now be done primarily by the CTX Board of Regents.

    Other practical decisions which will have to be considered are how/if Concordia Texas will continue to participate in Synodical systems such as the Call process.  Concordia has asked the CUS and LCMS leadership to engage in conversation with us about these kinds of decisions and we are awaiting the next steps. We are committed to finding a solution in this new governance structure that serves the LCMS, its churches, and Concordia students, faculty, and staff.

  • How will CTX avoid “mission drift” or theological drifting from the doctrine and theology of the LCMS?

    The CTX Board of Regents has developed a series of governing documents that will ensure that Concordia remains aligned with the theology and doctrine of the LCMS.  These documents consider and address issues such as:

    • Ensuring the membership of the Board and critical administrative and faculty positions are filled by members of the LCMS
    • Establishing a system of theological review every three years, done by a team of external reviewers who report back to the Board
    • Establishing a system of Demonstrations of Lutheran Identity, which will be measured and reported to the Board annually
    • Ensuring that the mission, website, and all handbooks identify CTX as a Lutheran institution, aligned with the LCMS, and ascribing to Article 2 of the LCMS Constitution
    • Forming and continuing partnerships with the churches of the Texas District and beyond to ensure our partnership in ministry declares the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world
    • Ensuring that the Board and the faculty/staff receive regular training in Lutheran identity and support in living out their callings at a Lutheran/Christian institution
    • Ensuring that we continue to address cultural questions - such as our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - in a manner that is reflective of Lutheran theology and practice
  • What are the next steps/timeline?

    The CTX Board has received word that the LCMS Board of Directors is now ready to engage in a conversation. We pray that in the spirit of both 1 Corinthians 6 and Acts 15, a resolution can be sought that honors the Word of God and the entire church.

  • What does it mean for church work students and/or called faculty and staff?

    Concordia University Texas is committed to continuing to serve the church through the preparation of church workers and the ministry of those on the roster of the LCMS.  We have asked the CUS and the LCMS to engage with us in conversations about how we can best achieve this going forward.

  • What about the LCMS Office of the President’s Spring 2022 visit to Concordia Texas?

    On April 20-22, 2022, a team of 9 visitors, including LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, visited CTX as part of an official visit by the Office of the President of the LCMS.  The agreed-upon purposes of this visit were:

    • To understand the Board of Regents' action in seeking a new model of governance
    • To strengthen Concordia University Texas' alignment with the Synod's doctrine and practice
    • To gain a greater understanding of how Concordia is serving the interest of the Synod and its congregations

    The visiting team met with sixty members of our campus community, including faculty, staff, and students.  While an informal summary was discussed at the end of the visit, as of November 2022, we have not yet received the official report from the Office of the President.

TIMELINE THAT LED TO THE BOARD DECISION:

Summer|Fall 2020 - The CTX Board begins reviewing iterations of proposed bylaws, developed by the 7-03 Committee, that direct the governance between the LCMS and its universities, addressing its concerns to the 7-03 Committee over seven months.

February 2021 - The CTX Board passes a resolution by which they voice their inability to support the proposed bylaws and ask the 7-03 Committee and the LCMS Board of Directors to withhold sending them out for review by the LCMS and engage again in dialogue with the University Presidents and Board Chairs.

April 2021 - The CTX Board passes a resolution asking President Christian to prepare a presentation through which the Board might consider if it has any options in the governance structure.

September 2021 - The CTX Board begins reviewing governance options and resolves to continue this discussion in more depth at its December meeting.

December 2021 - The CTX Board passes a resolution to enter into a conversation with the LCMS to explore any options to become the sole-governing body of the institution.

February 2022 - The CTX Board sends a letter to the LCMS Board of Directors, officially asking for a conversation to move its December resolution forward.

February 2022 to April 2022 - The CTX Board and LCMS Board exchange letters regarding the CTX resolution, resulting in the CTX Board resolving to move forward with the LCMS Board of Directors using LCMS Bylaw 3.6.6.4(i) as a starting point.

June 2022 - The CTX Board receives a letter from the LCMS Board that outlines a process by which Bylaw 3.6.6.4(i) will be executed, giving authority to the Concordia University System (CUS) Board to navigate and execute the process.

July 2022 - The CTX Board prepares, approves, and sends a proposal to the CUS outlining what a new relationship might look like.

August 2022 to September 2022 - The CUS asks for further documentation, which the CTX Board resolves to send, asking for a complete response from CUS no later than October 14.

October 2022 - The CTX Board resolves, at a special meeting on October 17, to once again attempt further conversation with the CUS, requesting a process and timeline.

November 2022 - The CTX Board calls for a special meeting to reach a decision about the future governance of CTX, at which time it decides to be the sole-governing body of the institution.