The WTS Castle at 100 Years: A Reflection from Craig L. Nessan

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wartburg Theological Seminary Castle in Fall 2016, we have an occasion to reflect on the genius of the architecture which imprints its pattern on each and every one of us in our life together. The WTS community is centered at worship in the Loehe Chapel, where we become body of Christ for the life of the world. Sent from worship, we move organically into the narthex as gathering space for conversation and into the von Schwarz Refectory and Weiblen Commons for community around tables, often enriched by our sharing food and drink together. These spaces foster life-giving relationships with the Triune God and with one another, forming us to notice and attend to the presence of Jesus Christ in one another’s faces in community.

From the architectural center of campus life we move to Fritschel Hall, where the Reu Library undergirds our shared intellectual life and where the classrooms help us orchestrate our mission of teaching, learning, and formation for leadership in Christ’s church. In the various office spaces of the seminary, including the Streng Mission Administrative Center and the other administrative offices, we tend to the infrastructure of the school and the support of the whole enterprise. These are places for focused work and holy conversations. Encircling the Castle are the dwelling places, where students and families live, move, and have their being sustained and renewed. Finally, there are the green spaces of the campus—grass, trees, flowers, creatures of many kinds—inviting us to remember our own existence as creatures in the midst of and dependent upon God’s good creation.

As we think about the Castle and campus during this anniversary year, I invite all those who are a part of the extended WTS community, not only those of us in residence, to imagine how this architecture is imprinted on our lives wherever we abide. May there be a chapel at the center of your existence that makes the worship of the Living God the heartbeat of your life! May there be narthexes, refectories, and commons in your life where you are sustained by nourishment and life-giving relationships! May there be a library, even more than one such place, where your intellectual life can be sustained and nourished! May there be spaces in your life for teaching and learning in community with others, like unto the classrooms of our beloved seminary!

May there be administrative spaces that allow you to tend to matters of organization and fruitful labor, assisting you to focus on necessary work and to extend hospitality in confidential conversations! May there be dwelling places where you can take refuge from the storms of life and steward your primary relationships with loved ones and family, those relationships that ground us in being who we are in the world! And may we all live in wonder, awe, and stewardship of the beauty and bounty of God’s good creation, our common home, which surrounds us every moment and infuses us with every breath!

Consider the architecture of the WTS Castle as a metaphor for the holy spaces in which you dwell, wherever you are, and give God thanks for what binds us together in Christ Jesus!