ALTS General Convention Report
ALTS Report to the General Convention of The AALC, 21-24 June, 2006
How well I remember the 18th General Convention where I was elected to my first term as your
Seminary President. Your trust in me is quite humbling, and I have worked to prove myself
worthy of your trust. Following the election I hired Mr. Kristofer Carlson (A.S, B.S, M.S.) to be
the registrar, administrative assistant, and operations assistant at the seminary began on July 1st.
The following is a summary of our operations since the last convention.
1. Following the General Convention, we were able to recruit Phillip Hofinga to enter a one
year program at Concordia Theological Seminary. He currently is taking his final intensive
course and will then have completed the course requirements for his degree, with only his
thesis remaining. He is expected to colloquize into The AALC, and will be ready to accept a
call after this convention.
2. CTS approved our use of their Alternate Route program to ordination. This two-year, non-
degree program offers more options to our students while staying within the two-year
residency requirement passed by the General Convention. ALTS students now have access to
the following programs at CTS:
! M.A. in Theology, (72 hr program and 48 hour program)
! Alternate Route program, (a 95 hr certificate program - plus vicarage, the equivalent of
the ALTS Certificate in Vocation program. While this is a certificate program, they may
also apply for the M.A. in Theology, and with the addition of another 18 hours, they can
receive both a certificate and a degree).
! M.Div – The basic professional degree for the ministry (139 hours plus field work and
! S.T.M., Master’s in Sacred Theology, advanced theological study. (36 hours plus thesis;
or 48 hours without thesis; or S.T.M. in pastoral theology, 42 hours plus paper).
! S.T.M. in Missiology (offered to students who have completed 57 hours of course work
toward the Ph.D. in Missiology, including all core material).
! D.Min – Doctor of Ministry: the highest professional degree in the ministry. (51 hours
! Ph.D. – Doctor of Philosophy in Missiology: highest academic degree in theology. (72
hours plus dissertation).
3. ALTS students have been fully integrated into the student body at Concordia. Nevertheless,
some of the constraints CTS places on their student’s pastoral formation do not apply to
ALTS. We control our student’s field work much differently. The challenge for ALTS is to
standardize those requirements that are part of the academic program at CTS while allowing
our students to serve the church as they are able. We are making good progress.
ALTS General Convention Report
4. The AALC distinctives are not being overwhelmed at CTS. ALTS is being more and more
accepted by the staff, faculty and students. We have experienced no difficulties addressing
our students’ problems and concerns as they come up. In addition, our students actually
experience greater academic freedom at CTS than the LCMS students, because CTS does not
certify and colloquize our students.
5. A joint letter from President Hays and Dr. Lindberg was mailed to all pastors and
congregations in December, 2005. This letter expressed the unity of the CHE with the
General Convention’s resolution to relocate the seminary to the campus at Concordia
Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, and encouraged the pastor’s and congregations in their
support of the seminary.
6. The ALTS budget for 2007 has been reduced to approximately $200K, down nearly 50%
from just two years ago.
7. Monthly donations initially doubled from the start of the fiscal year but have returned to their
original level. Donations are not covering expenses, but our financial reserves are greater
than our budget, allowing us to continue to meet our financial obligations for the foreseeable
8. Someone informed the sponsors of the Sandra T. Dennhardt Memorial Fund that the funds
were being mismanaged---that the funds were being used for general operating expenses
instead of being used for their intended purpose. We don’t know who gave them this
misinformation, and we don’t know what the intent was, but we do know the sponsors were
threatening to contact a lawyer. We immediately contacted them, sent them several letters,
and sent them a complete financial accounting of the fund’s administration. Finally, we paid
them a personal visit, which successful. The sponsors are now satisfied, and even encouraged
with the fund’s administration.
Following our visit to the sponsors of the Sandra T. Dennhardt Memorial Fund, we took the
opportunity to meet with several of the pastors in Southern California. We met with Mr.
Mark Rogers (Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Costa Mesa,) Rev. Nathan Hoff (Trinity
Lutheran Church, San Pedro,) and Rev. Steve Mohr (Trinity Lutheran Church, Norwalk.) We
discussed the seminary and their pastoral and congregational issues, and offered assistance as
9. We had a potential seminarian who was a good fit for the two-year ordination program. The
Alternate Route program is quite similar to the ALTS Certificate in Vocation program. Both
meet the General Convention’s requirement for two years in residence at the seminary. They
both share the same basic prerequisites: age, active church service, etc. We now have a
student who has been accepted into this program.
10. In November we met with Rev. Gary Benson, pastor of Calvary Orthodox Lutheran Church
in Lancaster, OH. Our discussions ended up with his agreeing to request our seminarians to
preach in his church periodically. By the time of convention, we will have filled five of his
pulpit supply vacancies.
ALTS General Convention Report
11. Leaders at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Piqua asked if the seminary would make a
presentation on the seminary to their church council. Mr. Carlson went to Piqua and
discussed the seminary program as well as exploring ways we could help them with their
pulpit supply. Subsequently, seminarian Philip Hofinga filled three pulpit supply vacancies
for Our Savior Lutheran Church in Piqua, OH.
12. I continue working as both director and supervisor of Field Education. Seminarian Joe
Dapelo completed his field work at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Napoleon, OH, and will
begin his vicarage there in August. I look forward to working with our incoming students,
and we are devising a number of processes to further their pastoral formation.
13. The kickoff event for First Call Theological Education was held in conjunction with the
Theological Symposia held in January. There was to be a preaching workshop, followed by
two days of presentations on exegetical theology, (focusing on justification,) and two days of
presentations on the Lutheran Confessions, (focusing on the Holy Spirit and his gifts.) We
worked with the FCTE students in the evening, beginning the process of building community
and discussing the challenges and victories they have faced in their first call.
14. Dr. Harald Schoubye is still pursuing the lawsuit against the Seminary. The discovery phase
of the lawsuit has been completed. Our motion for summary judgment is under consideration
by the judge. A settlement offer has been made and tentatively agreed to, as long as the
details can be worked out. This settlement will entail no monetary outlay by the seminary,
nor will the seminary admit to any wrongdoing in the matter.
15. We have worked with Mr. Bob Lund to help him enter the DELTO (Distance Education
Leading To Ordination) program. He was previously an ALTS student and had expressed a
desire to become an ALTS pastor. Unfortunately, he is not a member of an ALTS church and
we therefore cannot certify that he is one of our church workers as required by the DELTO
program. He is active in his LCMS church in St. Paul, and he finally chose to apply to
DELTO as an LCMS member. This is to his advantage, as the LCMS Districts provide
financial assistance to their DELTO candidates. We are still on good terms with Mr. Lund,
and he continues to keep us informed regarding his progress.
16. We have been engaged in clarifying certain tax issues involved in the relocation of the
seminary to Fort Wayne. We have completed the requirements for being granted a sales tax
exemption for the state of Indiana. To do this, we required a separate Employee Identification
Number from the IRS. This raised additional issues regarding our tax withholding, issues that
have since been resolved.
17. The ALTS worked with the CTS Admissions Office over the last few months to come up
with a number of procedures to integrate ALTS students into their admissions process. We
have agreed in principle to separate academic admissions from certification for the clergy
roster. This only makes sense, as the ALTS students will not be colloquizing into the LCMS.
With that in mind, the ALTS rewrote much of the CTS admissions package for our own use.
In addition, we now supply an ALTS cover sheet with each application describing the
specific certification issues that ALTS will address internally.
ALTS General Convention Report
18. We worked with the CTS Registrar and the CTS Academic Dean to set up a procedure that
will allow us to gain access to our students’ academic records. This was necessary for us to
adequately monitor our students’ progress.
19. We have been in contact with eleven seminary candidates at various levels for the upcoming
school years. Two of the eleven have already been admitted. Two more have been admitted
for the Fall of 2006. One candidate is just beginning the application process and expects to
begin classes in the Spring of 2007. We fully expect to have three incoming students, a fourth
student out on vicarage, and one student completing his written thesis while awaiting a call.
20. We were asked to assist a church in their preparation of a study on the Formula of Concord,
Articles IV (Good Works) and VI (3rd Use of the Law.) We sent several pages of
information, along with a study guide to a course on the Lutheran confessions. We received a
very positive response back.
21. We were asked by the Executive Committee to respond to a request by the Standing
Committee for Men that ALTS courses be placed online. Although in most cases this is not
possible, as the courses are not in the proper format to do that, we have since discovered that
at least one professor produced study guides for his course; as a product of seminary work,
these belong to the seminary. We will format similar study guides to make them easier to use
in a parish education setting.
22. The ALTS was tasked with assisting in the colloquy process for four members desiring to
enter our clergy roster, but who needed additional Lutheran education. This is a specific
requirement levied on us by the Clergy Commission. Our task was to create a lesson plan on
the Lutheran Confessions and Parish Practice. We have completed that task, and the study
guides and readings have been sent to the students involved. The course began in early June.
23. We are still being contacted by former students who describe themselves as having been in
the “distance education” or “residential extension” programs. The difficulty is three-fold.
First, The AALC in convention required a two-year residency for its ordination programs.
That is non-negotiable as long as that resolution is in force. Second, there never was a
distance education program. While there were various academic programs, distance
education had never been listed among them. Distance education is a course delivery method,
not an academic program. Different course delivery methods require different course
materials, and ALTS never has had the staff to develop multiple versions of the same course
material. Third, distance education makes substantially different demands upon the student,
the professor, and the infrastructure than does classroom instruction. That is why distance
education is generally offered on a different track than classroom education, and is separately
accredited. One cannot phone in, listen to a course designed as a classroom lecture, and get
the same benefit from it as students physically present.
24. Early in ALTS existence, a push was made for ALTS to be accredited. Among the findings
of the different accrediting agencies (ATS and TRACS) was that to be accredited ALTS
needed to have an independent board of governance. From 1993 through 1998, an attempt
was made to rewrite the constitution and bylaws to create just such a board of governance.
This attempt culminated in the Bylaws for the American Lutheran Theological Seminary,
ALTS General Convention Report
approved by referendum on March 15, 1998. The General Convention in 1998 adopted a
resolution calling for the CHE to serve as the Board of Directors of ALTS. This result of this
resolution is enshrined in the Guidance Manual for the Board of Directors and Faculty of
The American Lutheran Theological Seminary, June 2000, revised June 2004. In section 3 of
this Guidance Manual are the Guidelines for the Board of Directors of ALTS.
In the seminary bylaws, ALTS is described as being a “wholly owned and controlled
subsidiary” of The AALC. This language indicates ALTS is a separate corporation requiring
its own Board of Directors. But the Articles of Incorporation of ALTS use different language,
saying only that ALTS is solely controlled by The AALC, and The AALC will also be
responsible for this corporation's oversight and operations as stipulated in its Constitution
and By-laws. (A non-profit corporation cannot be owned, because a non-profit corporation
does not issue stock.) According to Mr. Larry Hanna, a lawyer who was contacted by The
AALC in 1994, this means that the lines of authority for ALTS run straight to the governing
bodies of The AALC. Mr. Hanna also stated that because of its Articles of Incorporation,
ALTS has no need for independent bylaws, as the constitution and bylaws of The AALC are
The Executive Committee of The AALC invited Mr. Christian Preus to address the
Association Council. In this address, which took place in October of 2005, Mr. Christian
Preus presented his opinion that despite the ALTS bylaws and the General Convention
resolution, the combined organization had but one Board of Directors, and that was the Board
of Trustees. We were astounded by this, as it was contrary to the operative understanding of
the relationship between the CHE, the seminary, and The AALC governing bodies.
The presentation made clear that a disparity existed between the Constitution and Bylaws of
The AALC, the Articles of Incorporation of the American Lutheran Theological Seminary,
the Bylaws of the American Lutheran Theological Seminary, the 1998 resolution of the
General Convention, the Guidance Manual for the Board of Directors and Faculty of The
American Lutheran Theological Seminary, June 2000 (revised June 2004,) and the two
different legal opinions expressed by Mr. Larry Hanna in 1994, and Mr. Christian Preus in
2005. Therefore, ALTS consulted with the Executive Committee as required by chapter 10 of
the Policies and Procedures Manual, and received their authorization to request a legal
opinion from Mr. Christian Preus on the relationship of ALTS to The AALC, and the proper
lines of authority thereof.
The following is a summary of the legal opinion authorized by the Executive Committee:
! Based upon the governing documents of ALTS and TAALC, it is our opinion that the
“board of directors” of ALTS is the TAALC Board of Trustees.
! The final authority to the Joint Council over the affairs of ALTS is limited to matters that
are of an ecclesiastical nature.
! The Commission on Higher Education (“CHE”) does not serve as the board of directors
of ALTS. The CHE serves primarily as an advisory group that recommends and gives
reports to the Board of Trustees, Joint Council, General Convention, and Clergy
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Commission. The CHE could be described as having generic ecclesiastical oversight over
ALTS affairs, but in all cases this appears to be subject to the authority of the Joint
Council, and in certain specific circumstances, the Clergy Commission.
! The Presiding President of TAALC, in a general sense, and the Seminary President of
ALTS, in a more specific sense, each serve as “spiritual leader” to ALTS.
! The Board of Trustees has authority over each of the four individual officers and the
Executive Committee as a whole on all secular business affairs. With respect to
ecclesiastical matters, the authority of each of the officers and the Executive Committee
is as described in the Constitution and Bylaws of The AALC.
! All officers, committees, and other groups within each corporation of TAALC and ALTS
are subject to the authority of the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees, however,
must act within the confines of state and federal law, and is ultimately accountable to the
members of TAALC.
25. Since ALTS is “solely controlled” by The AALC (vice a “wholly owned subsidiary) and
subject to its constitution and bylaws, and since the Board of Directors for ALTS is the
Board of Trustees, the portions of the Guidance Manual for the Board of Directors and
Faculty of The American Lutheran Theological Seminary, June 2000 (revised June 2004,)
covering the CHE and their responsibilities as the Board of Directors for ALTS are clearly
not valid, especially those portions that give to the CHE the fiscal responsibilities that reside
solely and exclusively with the Board of Trustees, IAW Minnesota statute and The AALC
Constitution and Bylaws.
Furthermore, since the lines of authority over ALTS run directly to the governing bodies of
The AALC, and since the CHE is an advisory body instead of a governing body, the
Guidance Manual for the Board of Directors and Faculty of The American Lutheran
Theological Seminary, June 2000, revised June 2004 (and hereafter referred to as the
Guidance Manual,) was never properly approved IAW the Constitution and Bylaws of The
AALC and the laws of the state of Minnesota(which give authority over the temporal affairs
of ALTS to the Board of Trustees, and authority over the ecclesiastical affairs of ALTS to the
The reference in the Guidance Manual to the CHE as the Board of Directors is a
misstatement of the Bylaws of The American Lutheran Theological Seminary, which never
references the CHE as such. The sole reference to the “board”comes after the discussion of
the creation of institutional policies, and says that the policies will be recorded by the
“Secretary of the Board and kept in appropriate policy and procedure manuals”
(S15.03.04.02.). But which board is in view? The Constitution and Bylaws of The AALC,
and the Bylaws of ALTS, never mention any Board other than the Board of Trustees. In the
legal opinion drafted by Mr. Christian Preus, he states that the Board of Trustees is the Board
of Directors for ALTS. Therefore the Guidance Manual, while well-intentioned, is incorrect.
ALTS General Convention Report
26. The Bylaws of the American Lutheran Theological Seminary clearly make certain statements
in the CHE report questionable. The CHE has never been granted or delegated control over
the seminary. The General Convention, and the Joint Council between conventions, has the
responsibility for the oversight and operations of the seminary (S15.03.01.02.). The CHE has
been delegated the authority for the management of the seminary, under the oversight of the
Joint Council (S15.03.02.02.). The Bylaws of The American Association of Lutheran
Churches state that the CHE is to “to oversee the business of American Lutheran Theological
Seminary (ALTS) on behalf of The AALC and in accordance with The AALC Constitution
and By-laws” (B04.06.01.). The statement that the CHE is to “oversee the business of the
seminary” does not delegate to the CHE the oversight responsibilities of the General
Convention and the Joint Council. “Overseeing the business of the seminary” is clarified by
the specific enumerated duties, which are to be accomplished in cooperation with either the
Joint Council or the Board of Trustees. In no place is the CHE given the authority to act as a
Board of Directors over ALTS. In other words, the CHE is never given the authority to act as
a governing body controlling the temporal affairs of the seminary. The sole power granted
them is to create institutional policies governing the effective and efficient operation of the
seminary. In practice, the Manual of Policies and Procedures for The AALC has filled much
that role, as additional policies concerning the seminary have been adopted since the
adoption of the seminary bylaws in 1998. Clearly the Joint Council did not delegate their
control over the seminary to the CHE, or they would not have persisted in creating policy
governing the operations of the seminary. The creation of “institutional policies” must
therefore be interpreted as applying to policies that implement the Joint Council resolutions.
The Guidance Manual is well-intentioned, but the plans and policies are misaligned. The
institutional policies contained in the Guidance Manual are problematic because they go
beyond the mandate given the CHE. The CHE is limited to developing policies, procedures,
and strategies that fall within its purview. For example, The AALC Manual of Policies and
Procedures establishes an internship program for our seminarians. The CHE is acting
entirely within their authority when they create specific institutional policies to implement
the Joint Council resolution. By contrast, the Joint Council resolution of 1998 recommends
all seminary training be taken at ALTS, desires a two-year residency at ALTS, but makes
provisions for exceptions. One would expect the Guidance Manual to implement this policy,
to create procedures to ensure a two year residency period, and provide a process for the
granting of exceptions to policy. Instead, the policies for the Lutheran House of Studies
program in the Guidance Manual, contain no residency requirement---the exception has
become the rule. This is incorrect. Neither ALTS nor the CHE may act independently of the
Joint Council and the General Convention; the CHE must submit its policies and strategies to
the Joint Council for review and adoption.
The confusion over the authority of the CHE, in that the CHE acted as the Board of Directors
without the authority to do so, directly led to the lawsuit of Schoubye v. ALTS. The CHE
were acting outside their proper authority when they authorized and directed payment of a
severance package for Dr. Schoubye. The confused lines of authority also contributed to a
number of questionable numerical statement from ALTS, such as the oft-referenced
statement that ALTS had 50 students.
ALTS General Convention Report
Despite how this may appear, the Guidance Manual contains much of value. We anticipate
that much of the Guidance Manual would be adopted by the Joint Council were it ever to be
submitted to them for their approval. We also appreciate the input we receive from the CHE,
and appreciate the system of accountability our association has created for us. We look
forward to working together with the CHE in enhancing the pastoral formation of our
The upcoming year promises to be a fruitful one. First, we will have a student out on vicarage.
This will enable us to use the new vicarage evaluation process and determine how best to adapt
the program to our needs. Second, will have three new students begin their seminary education,
which will give us additional opportunities to fine tune the field work process. The field work
program also provides valuable assistance to the regional churches. Third, we will send the first
class of students through the colloquy course. Completing this process (which is a Clergy
Commission program,) ensures that our incoming pastors share the same Lutheran
understandings of Word and Sacrament. The feedback from the students and the Clergy
Commission will enable us to meet the specific requirements of the clergy commission and the
needs of the incoming pastors. Fourth, we will begin the second phase of the First Call
Theological Education by Extension program (FCTEE.) As you will remember from last year,
this program is designed to develop a sense of community between our newly rostered pastors
and provide them with the specific information they require during their first three years of
rostered service. Fifth, we will work to modify the ALTS courses into formats suitable for a Lay
Academy, and will work with the CHE in this process. Sixth, we want to increase our working
relationship with Concordia Theological Seminary, creating a true give and take relationship
with our host seminary.
These things we pledge to do, with the help of God.