Concordia Selma to Close Without Investors. Why doesn't the LCMS invest?

A Tale of Two Concordias: Selma and Ann Arbor

The Selma Times-Journal broke the story on February 6:  Unless investors are found immediately for Concordia, Selma, the school will close.  Click here to read the full story.

That’s not what happened with Concordia, Ann Arbor, when that school was in distress.  Heroic efforts were made by Michigan District President David Maier, the Concordia University System Board and other Synod leadership to find a solution.

If Selma is in desperate need of an investor, why isn’t the LCMS investing?  It seems that Concordia College, Selma, is being left by our leadership to go bankrupt.

Rosa Young: Closing the Doors on Rosa Young's Dream
Closing the Doors on Rosa Young’s Dream

Is that how Synod under President Harrison and the United List majority on the Concordia University System Board make decisions now about the future of our Concordia’s?  No vote of a convention.  No information shared.  Congregations are left in the dark.  Is Synod’s leadership so secretive now we must read a local newspaper to find out what’s going on?

LCMS congregations are about to lose our only historically black college in the LCMS through neglect rather than a decision.  We are about to extinguish the dream of Dr. Rosa Young and so many others without a vote by LCMS congregations.

This sounds eerily like the hidden decision to pull out of Hong Kong.

Are Handbook Bylaws Being Ignored?

It seems our leaders are about to ignore a little-known Bylaw because they can.  That bylaw protects the assets of our Synod from the capricious decisions of leaders.

Bylaw states the Concordia University System (CUS) has the authority “…after receiving the consent of the Board of Directors of the Synod by its two-thirds vote and also the consent of either the Council of Presidents by its two-thirds vote or the appropriate board of regents by its two-thirds vote, to consolidate, relocate, separate, or divest a college or university.”

Have any of these votes taken place — or are these decisions by the United List majority of the Synod Board of Directors and CUS hidden from congregations under the “white out” of executive sessions of minutes?

Selma Has Worked Hard for Its Future

Quietly and for years, the Selma Board of Regents, faculty, administration, and staff have sacrificed and worked tirelessly to enable Concordia, Selma, Alabama survive and thrive. The Board of Regents have given significant time and personal financial resources. The administration, faculty and staff have been working under 10-20 percent furloughs for years.

Selma’s mission is to educate the underserved who have difficulty paying the lowest tuition of our Concordia Schools. They fully engaged in the mission.

Founded in 1922, Concordia College Alabama is the LCMS’ only HBCU (Historically Black College or University).  The school currently has a student population of around 450 and a staff of just under 100.  Much of the dream of Selma came from the vision of Dr. Rosa Young, the LCMS teacher, missionary, lecturer and fundraiser who traveled the South in the early to mid-1900s, starting Lutheran schools and congregations.

Local Newspaper Releases Information, Not St. Louis

On February 6th, 2018, the Selma Times-Journal reported this story:  “Concordia College in Need of Investors to Remain Open.”  The article suggests that unless secular investors can be found immediately for Selma, the school will close by the end of this year.

That Didn’t Happen with Ann Arbor

In 2012, when Concordia, Ann Arbor, was in danger of closing, Synod couldn’t work hard enough to save the school.  In fact, the Synod came up with a “creative solution” when Ann Arbor was in the same significant trouble Selma now faces.

Click here to read the May, 2012, news release from Synod in the Reporter when they announced an affiliation of Concordia, Wisconsin with Concordia, Ann Arbor.  To give a sense of the creative nature of the response, just read the title and beginning paragraphs:

Parties pose ‘creative solution’ to save Concordia, Ann Arbor

It’s never been done on such a large scale in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done: a thriving Lutheran university offering a helping hand to a struggling sister school in another state.

But all parties — and there are a lot of them — involved in a unique alliance between Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., and Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich., seem to believe that the new “affiliation agreement” between the two schools is a fine idea.

For example, the Boards of Regents at each school and the LCMS Board of Directors (two-thirds majority votes were required from all three to proceed) not only approved the concept, but all voted unanimously in favor of it.

That’s “a truly historic event,” according to Dr. Alan W. Borcherding, interim president of the Concordia University System (CUS), and “shows our Synod leaders working together to achieve something very difficult and complex.” The CUS includes 10 LCMS colleges and universities nationwide, including those at Mequon and Ann Arbor.

The new legal relationship is seen as beneficial to both schools: Concordia, Mequon (CUW), will broaden its reach into a new geographical area, and Concordia, Ann Arbor (CUAA) — which has struggled for years with financial, enrollment and administrative difficulties — will remain open and continue to provide LCMS higher education to students in the Upper Great Lakes region.

Why Ann Arbor and Not Selma?

Why hasn’t Synod leadership found a solution for Selma that they worked so hard to make possible for Ann Arbor?

It’s time for a change in our leadership — and for our action.  Our work is simple — and hard:

Congregations Matter© is a movement within the LCMS that wants to restore the Synod to its historic role of providing congregations with advice, encouragement, and resources to carry out their evangelical role of teaching and baptizing in their communities, as they see best fit for their own circumstances.

Our Synod has gotten away from its historic role.  Current leadership is more focused on concentrating all authority, direction, and control in the International Center in St. Louis and in the hands of a few. That is not healthy for our Church. The health of our Church is our local congregations.

We Need Your Help

If you would like to join the movement, here are some things to do:

  1. Sign up for our email list and receive new posts from this site to become more informed on the issues.
  2. Make sure your congregation passes resolutions to district conventions and national conventions that support this effort.  We must turn our LCMS leadership back to its historic role.
  3. Elect local delegates to the District and National conventions who will vote for the primacy of congregations, not the primacy of the Synodical President and his administration.

And one more thing.  You have the responsibility to nominate men and women to serve as our leaders in Synod.  Let’s choose leadership that will support congregations, not use congregations to support them.  Let’s choose leadership that will support all of our Concordias equally, not pick and choose which stay and which go.

Congregations — and ALL our Concordias — matter.


To learn more about Rosa Young, watch this five minute video “Rosa Young — Hero of the Faith”

Click Here to watch the 42 minute full-length film “The First Rosa” on YouTube or click on the image below to view the movie


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