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 September 2, 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.

Exploring Governance Change

In February of 2022, the Board of Regents of Concordia University Texas notified the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Board of Directors that it wished to enter into a conversation by which the CTX Board can explore being the sole governing body of the institution while remaining in alignment with the LCMS. That conversation has continued through the summer, with CTX being invited to create a proposal that would be taken up by the Concordia University System Board of Directors to determine whether or not such a change in governance would be feasible in serving the congregations of the LCMS. That proposal was delivered to the CUS on July 19; the CTX Board is currently awaiting their official response, after which the LCMS Board of Directors would engage in the process. The CTX Board meets again on September 16 to continue the discussion and seek God's guidance. We ask for your continued prayers for wisdom and clarity as the Concordia Board of Regents works through this process

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

 

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.

  • 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.  We all 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 February of 2021.  The Board concurs that a change is needed - one that will 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 does not believe that the relationship proposed by 703B is the right governance model for either organization in the current context.  Therefore, the CTX Board has been working towards a new form of governance, by which Concordia University Texas would be self-governing while remaining in alignment with the doctrine and theology of the LCMS.

    Our prayerful hope in this process is that a form of governance can be created that benefits both Concordia and the church.  This governance will allow for local control while continuing 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 Board to shape itself and its membership in a way that is appropriate to the university's specific context.
    • Giving the CTX Board greater authority to selecting the next president.
    • Relieving the LCMS of responsibility for any ascending 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. 

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

    This is not about theology, doctrine, or practice, and the relationship with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is not 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 us 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 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 would 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 Concordia Plan Services and the Call process.  We are in conversation about these kinds of decisions. We are committed to finding a solution in this new governance structure that serves the LCMS, its churches, and the Concordia 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 is actively in the process of developing a series of governing documents. If a governance change were to happen, these documents would ensure that Concordia remains aligned with the theology and doctrine of the LCMS.  While the Board has not made any decisions or approved any documents at this time, they are considering things like:

    • 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 Outcomes 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 (see question below specifically about DEI)
  • What are the next steps/timeline?

    In its April 2022 meeting, the CTX Board of regents reaffirmed its commitment to continue dialogue with the LCMS regarding a change in governance. The Board asked for this to occur following the process outlined in LCMS Bylaw 3.6.6.4(i). On June 2, CTX received a response from the LCMS Board of Directors, outlining a process by which the Concordia University System (CUS) Board of Directors would receive a proposal that would outline how such a change in governance would work and that after reviewing that proposal, would recommend to the LCMS BOD whether or not to accept such proposal. The CTX Board of Regents forwarded a proposal to the CUS on July 19; to date (September 1, 2022), no official response has been received. The CTX Board of Regents continues to work toward a resolution sometime later this fall.

  • What is Concordia’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?

    Over the last several years, there has been much discussion in our church body about the role of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)  initiatives in our churches and on our college campuses.  For some, the very use of these words is seen as secular, anti-Christian, and antithetical to our understanding of the unity of the body of Christ.

    For us at Concordia University Texas, however, these words are not antithetical to our faith but rather result from our understanding of our vocational calling, both as Christian individuals and as a Lutheran institution of higher education. The DEI section of our website explains that it is because of our faith, a faith that calls us to love and serve our neighbor, that we are committed to serving students of all backgrounds and providing opportunities for all students to explore their faith identity and to encounter Christ as part of their college experience.

    We also believe that our vocational calling as a Chrisitan institution of higher education is to serve our specific context - to serve the people God has put in front of us.  Much like many churches serving in various contexts - urban, rural, school, ethnic ministry - we are called to serve our communities. God has given us the opportunity to serve an incredibly diverse student body. For Concordia University Texas, this includes a student body that is more than 55% students of color. Our faithful service to that calling commits us to be excellent stewards of the ministry.    

    We understand that issues can be seen as contentious and divisive. Therefore, our goal is to engage in these conversations from a place of humility and willingness to learn, repent when we fail, and listen to the voices of those who think differently than we do.  This effort is part of our understanding of a Lutheran Learning Model and our commitment to serving the LCMS, the greater Christian community, and society.

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

    We are currently in discussion with the LCMS on this topic, namely how Concordia University Texas will work with the Synod and its schools and churches to best serve their ongoing needs.

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

    On April 20-22, 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 campus community members, including faculty, staff, and students. At the end of the visit, President Harrison stated that a report would be forthcoming from his office that would be shared with CTX President Christian prior to any other entity seeing the report. As of September 1, 2022, no report has been received.