Feast of John Tietjen (February 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of Christ Seminary-Seminex

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JOHN TIETJEN (JUNE 18, 1928-FEBRUARY 15, 2004)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Ecumenist, and Bishop

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Jesus makes all the difference in how we see God and God’s relation to us, what we do with our lives, and what we can expect God to do for us.

–John Tietjen; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 139-140

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John Tietjen, a child of German immigrants, served as a minister in three denominations, two of whom he helped to form.  He, an ecumenist, had to commit schism in order to participate in a merger.

Our saint was originally a member of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).  He, born in New York, New York, on June 18, 1928, graduated from Concordia Collegiate Institute, Bronxville, New York.  After earning a Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, Tietjen earned a Master of Sacred Theology and a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York.  He, ordained in Teaneck, New Jersey, in September 1953, served as the assistant pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Teaneck, until 1956.  Then, from 1956 to 1966, our saint served as pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church, Leonia, New Jersey.  Tietjen married Ernestine Catherine Damits (1925-2015) in 1953.  The couple had four children.

Tietjen was prominent in the LCMS until he left during the denominational controversy (1969-1976).  He served as the Executive Secretary of the Division of Public Relations, Lutheran Council in the U.S.A., from 1966 to 1969.  Then our saint became the President of Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1969.  He was allegedly too liberal, to the point of heresy (as in higher Biblical scholarship), hence his suspension in early 1974.  The following year, Tietjen became the President of Christ Seminary-Seminex (Seminary in Exile), which merged into the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, Illinois, in 1987.  Our saint helped to form the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC), which broke away from the LCMS in 1976,

The LCMS earned its reputation for not being on the vanguard of ecumenism.  That portion of the left wing of the LCMS that broke away almost immediately engaged with other Lutheran denominations, though.  By the late 1970s, the process of negotiating the merger of the AELC, The American Lutheran Church (TALC), and the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) was underway.  Tietjen, as a member of the Commission for a New Lutheran Church, helped to create the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which became operational on January 1, 1988.

Tietjen continued as a leader in the merged denomination.  He served as the first Bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod in 1988 and 1989.  Then our saint became the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Worth, Texas, in 1989.  He retired in 2000, but continued in ministry afterward, as long as he was able.

Tietjen wrote three books:

  1. Which Way to Lutheran Unity:  A History of Efforts to Unite the Lutherans of America (1966),
  2. Memories in Exile:  Confessional Hope and Institutional Conflict (1990), and
  3. The Gospel According to Jesus (2006), his final project, published posthumously.

Tietjen, aged 77 years, died at home, in Fort Worth, on February 15, 2004.  He had suffered from cancer and a brain tumor.  His wife, children, and grandchildren survived him.

Tietjen lived in the hope of resurrection.  Preaching on the Confession of St. Peter, our saint said:

I have placed my life in God’s hands.  Therefore I know all will be well, including what happens at death.  No, death is not the end of it all.  Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  God raised Jesus from the dead.  God raised Jesus from the dead.  Because He lives, I too will live.  The Messiah said so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 15, 2019 COMMON ERA

PROPER 19:  THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, SEPTEMBER 15, 1963

THE FEAST OF CHARLES EDWARD OAKLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES CHISHOLM, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIBERT AND AICARDUS OF JUMIEGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant John Tietjen,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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