Monday, December 01, 2014

A New Church Year; Update

Throughout Scripture Christ reminds us that the end is near (especially at this time of year), and we should expect difficulty and challenges of all sorts, yet the resounding message of Scripture is that of God's promise to be with and strengthen the elect for such a day.
I anticipate that the Last Days will be far worse than these, and the impact will be global. Yet fire started by an intruder, relocations for classes and office spaces, minor schedule changes, heavy soot and smoke damage, massive cleanup and some loss, the outage of two rooftop heaters and one boiler pump and regulator, clogged/frozen sewer lines, cleanup containers in the parking lot, and the three-day snowfall of roughly 35 cm of new snow all accumulate to a small question, "how much, O Lord?"
Yet before those words are framed, God has already answered with the strength of His example in the Bible (Job, Daniel, Moses, Paul -- Jesus) showing His fidelity to the Promise of strength and peace.
On Tuesday, Nov 25, we moved back into the upstairs offices and chapel, the lower level classrooms and lunch area, and sectioned off a new study area. We are all glad to be back "home," and re-developing our routines.
The library and other areas within its footprint (the photocopy room, Eifert classroom, study tables and carrels, and Missionary Study center) are all cordoned off. As of today, most of the upstairs books have been dusted and removed for the remainder of the smell removal treatment. The stacks downstairs need to be dusted and treated, and then the shelving, lighting, ceiling tile, and carpet will be removed for painting and replacement.
With endings come new beginnings (the New Year ... the next life that is truly life). The major gutting provides us an opportunity to reconfigure our library and resource/study space, but we have scant little time to determine the next best layout and design. We will lose some of our books and periodicals, and will be broadening our titles for more e-resources without abandoning the traditional hard-bound resources.  We are hoping for good information on the impact that ozone treatments (for smell) have upon the book binding glues (we don't want our pages falling out in five years).
Our chapel closet full of albs, paraments, and stoles is all at a specialty cleaner. So are linens and fabric portions of the displays from the Missionary Study Centre and Library. Our photocopy machine and most of our electronic equipment that was in the building are toast. The office and kitchen supplies have largely been thrown away by the reclamation team. The student food pantry was a loss except for canned goods, and some donated clothing has been tossed. We re-keyed the building and added a sign-in process as a first next steps in increased security.
And through it all, God is good. The text appointed months ago for the November 27 chapel reminded us to "enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise" -- we celebrated, and then followed up with a meal of thanksgiving after chapel (sponsored by faculty and staff).

No one has been injured. Our partnerships have deepened with the ABC District Office and staff and the CUCA connections across the street. Student formation continues to be as strong or stronger with the added challenges. Faculty and staff have risen to the challenges. And we are fully convinced that God has shown once again an example of how strong He is when we are weak, and what it means to "trust in God above all things," having eyes opened to see what He means by His promised ability to do "immeasurably more than all that we could ask for or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Thank you for your prayers and support. Please continue to approach the throne of grace on our behalf ... for strength, resolution of many new challenges, faith-building courage and wisdom to face these tests and trials, guidance in re-design and construction, financial resources to fully recover and move forward, and ongoing commitment together in our ministry of "forming servants for Jesus' sake."
And we also realize that while our challenges have been unfolding, many others around the community, the Church, and global Christendom are facing far more difficult and trying challenges. We continue to pray for and support them as well. May God bless us all to to be united in spirit and commitment to be faithful to the end, through Christ the Victorious One. And together we pray, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come!"
God bless ...
Rev. James R. Gimbel, Ph.D., President
Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Returning Home - an update

Today we returned to our beloved seminary after the fire.

Psalm 137:3 reflects the spirit of what we've gone through ... like those in Babylonian exile, it is hard to "sing one of the songs of Zion ... in a foreign land." It just isn't the same. Yet we are thankful that we can sing praise to God who is everywhere ... from anywhere. And the ABC District Office and CUCA have been a great second home where we built new bridges and relationships, singing songs of joy amid our loss.

In Ezra's day, when the rebuilt (second) temple was seen by those returning from exile, there were two kinds of tears -- those of joy over the return and restoration mixed with and indistinguishable from the tears of sorrow in the memories of what had been lost (Ezra 3:13). We may have a mixture of tears as well ... we are back home, but it isn't yet quite the same.

It is good to be home, and sing the songs of joy in God's blessing.  However, some things are different as we return:
1) The library is closed, and likely will be for the remainder of the calendar year and possibly some time beyond as we adapt the facility for better use after the fire.
2) The study areas are still being cleaned as well. For now, the Eberhardt room will be open for study when it isn't being used for class.
3) Some of the supplies in the food pantry are clean and useable. Other things were not salvageable. God has provided; he will "re-provide."
4) Our habits and patterns need adjusting: more new spaces, new settings, new adjustments ... but, God is good and will guide us.

We again want to indicate our thanks to the ABC District and CUCA for helping us during our time away from the seminary.

Thanks be to God in our midst ... our eternal strength, even in the upcoming days of readjustment once more.
I am confident that God has used this for growth and good, whether we see blessing in its outcome today or not. As always, things for God's people ultimately point to Christ, who "did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but humbled himself" (Philippians 2:6) to come to earth, displaced for us. He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin ... (Hebrews 4:15) and will help us in our time of need, continuing to need patience and strength.
This is never easy; at the end of the semester, even more so. But God is faithful, and will not give us more than we can endure with His help (1 Cor 10:13).
To that end, we have hope and strength from Him.

in His hope and joy,
Dr. Gimbel

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Restoration Update

The air scrubbers hum and whir as cleaning crews make great progress on the office areas and classrooms.
We hope to be back in the offices, chapel, and classrooms by Monday, November 24.
The library, however, is sealed for the more complex process of reclaiming books, periodicals, and our other resources. Our reserve books and e-resources on NEOS are still available for student coursework.
Although God's people were dispersed to Nineveh, Babylon, Egypt, and the Mediterranean basin and the world, God was present for His faith-filled people in every place. He is also with our CLS family wherever we work, study, and serve.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Seminary Update

Wednesday night's fire only burned a small area in the library basement, but it left a huge mess: the smell and residue of burnt plastic, ash, and soot that found its way to cover every surface and pollute the air in every room.
The restoration crew arrived on Friday morning to begin reclamation: 15 large capacity air filtration units (OmniAire 2000V HEPA Negative Air Machines) have been running non-stop since then, needing blackened filters changed periodically.
The smell has improved greatly - a huge first step.
The cleanup of offices has also begun, and classrooms, chapel, and other public areas will follow.
The rich library resources are still covered, waiting the next series of decisions about how best to move forward.
For today, as wonderful as the ABC District and CUCA have been at welcoming us, everyone looks forward to getting back into the offices and classrooms soon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fire in the Library

On the evening of November 12, a fire broke out in the basement of the seminary library. The fire department responded quickly and prevented the fire from getting out of control.
In an email to faculty, staff, and students, Dr. Jim Gimbel said "although the structural damage is minimal, the heavy soot and smoke damage is a huge mess.  Furthermore, a burned wiring area has messed up the circuit for a major part of our heating unit, so our building is also quite cold."
The seminary community has been welcomed by both the ABC District Office and Concordia University College of Alberta, who have offered the use of office space, classroom space, and whatever else is needed during the clean-up and restoration.
Seminary classes continue to be held, and faculty and staff are using other spaces for work until November 24 when the offices and classroom areas should be clean and re-habitable. The library clean-up is forecasted to take 6 to 8 weeks.
We thank God for His protection in a situation that could have been far worse and are thankful for the cooperation and outpouring of support from so many of you.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Quest begins tonight @ 7:00pm

President Gimbel leads this four-part series "Our Legacy of Faith: Relationships with God" starting tonight.
Local participants have the option of participating in person at the seminary (in the Schwermann classroom, downstairs), and the two hour session with also be made available via live videoconference here:
More information about Quest can be found here
See you at 7:00pm (Mountain Time)!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our students at CLS for 2014-2015

We welcome back two students who were on vicarage last year, Aaron Astley and Scott Gamble, eager to complete their degrees and be placed in Spring 2015.
We have three students on vicarage this year: Cody Cooper (LaRonge, SK), Keith Hoveland (Valley View, AB), and Eric Moffitt (Foothills, Calgary, AB).
We have a second-year student, Jason Legacy, looking forward to Take Wing in Richmond.
We have two unique students: Will Rose began pursuing ministry in LCC through colloquy, but has moved his family (seven children) to Edmonton to earn the M.Div.
We also welcome from Ukraine Pastor Alexey Navrotsky, here with Vika and their two children, Nikita and Illia, on a two-year program of study also culminating in the M.Div. for his return to serve in Ukraine.
And we welcome four new first-year students: K. Scott Brayall (Ft. McMurray, AB), Kai Buck (Stony Plain, AB), Andrew McDonald (Edmonton, AB), and Ken Stadnick (Comox, BC).
Each of these students brings a unique set of gifts and graces and are part of our curriculum that is designed to "form servants for Jesus' sake," within our theme which reminds us to "train yourself for Godliness."
Please keep these men and their families in your prayers, and thank you for your support.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Honorary Award Nominations Invited

The faculty and Board of Regents invite individuals, congregations, and Boards of Lutheran Church-Canada to submit the names of persons to be considered for one of the seminary's honorary degrees and awards. Completed forms must be received by January 1, 2015, for consideration.

The purpose of these honorary degrees and awards is to acknowledge outstanding service to the church, the seminary, and the community, read more about honorary awards here.
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