top of page

An Open Letter to My Christian Sisters and Brothers Regarding the Faithfulness of CTX

An Open Letter to my Christian Sisters and Brothers regarding the Faithfulness of Concordia University Texas by Rev. Dr. James Marriott.

For those who know me, thanks for pouring into me and helping me grow into who I am. For those that don’t, my name is Jim Marriott. I am a lifelong confessional Lutheran. I hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from Concordia Nebraska and Wisconsin, respectively. I have a Ph.D. in liturgical theology from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. I have served at numerous LCMS churches in a variety of ministry roles. I have taught at Concordia Seminary St. Louis, where I was also ordained into the pastoral ministry. I am now the chair of the theology department at Concordia University Texas. I say this not to parade accomplishments, but simply to say that I’m a “lifer.” I’m invested. This is my church, my synod, my university system, my students. Y’all are my people. And I’m thankful.

I recently read in the Reporter that the situation at Concordia University Texas is being described by our synodical president as a “tragedy.” That is not my perspective. I hope that reading a few of my experiences will help you see the beauty, faithfulness, and strength of a university that is rooted in the righteousness of God that comes through faith.

I knew Gerard first. Dr. Gerard Bolling is a professor at Concordia University Texas and is a treasured colleague of mine. He is also a Lutheran “lifer.” While I was teaching at Concordia Seminary, he would tell me about his engagements at CTX. He told me of his ability to be himself—a gregarious, brilliant, articulate academic theologian who is also a person of color. Those who know, know that it takes a lot for one of our Black theologians to be able to “be himself.” I was thrilled for Gerard. I was thrilled for his students, many of whom had never known a Black Lutheran pastor. In my own time of service now at CTX, Gerard and I have been able to present at conferences together, talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion from an academic and theological perspective. It is vital and vibrant work. I’m honored to be a part of it. I’m honored to serve with Gerard.

I met Kristi next. Kristi Kirk is the provost at Concordia University Texas. She is also a

Lutheran “lifer.” Immediately upon meeting her, she demonstrated her theological conviction, her faithfulness to the church, and her discerning leadership. Kristi is the administrative heartbeat of CTX. She cultivates an academic environment that is collaborative, constructive, and cohesive. Following the decision of our board of regents, Kristi has led us through the governance transition with precision, wisdom, and care. I’m honored to work for and serve with Kristi.

I met Don soon after. Don Christian is the president of Concordia University Texas. He is also a Lutheran “lifer.” Like all good presidents, Don sees the big picture and doesn’t get lost in the institutional weeds. When he speaks to our faculty, staff, and students, he always proclaims Christ. He is a man of prayer and action. He teaches us by example what it is to be invested in the church at large, faithful to Scripture and confessions, and committed to the mission of the University. Don is a relational leader, invested in the people around him. He treated my children as valuable humans, delighting in their unique personalities and even exchanging books with them. Don has been a pillar of confidence and encouragement. I’m honored to serve with Don.

Jake has been another treasure. Rev. Jake Boessling is the campus pastor at Concordia University Texas. He is also a Lutheran “lifer.” Our campus community gathers daily around God’s Word for liturgy and study. Jake stewards it all brilliantly. He is a faithful pastor rooted in the confession of our church. He stewards the rituals of our campus community, helping students, faculty, and staff engage fully. He proclaims the promises of God in Christ—forgiveness, life, and salvation—as our pastor. He pastors faculty, students, and staff through life and death. I’m honored to serve with Jake.

Our students are incredible. I had the privilege of teaching a variety of classes this year, interacting with students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. I especially enjoyed teaching Lutheran Confessions at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Despite the dreadful time, students diligently engaged the class. We learned about the faithfulness

of the Augsburg Confession, the brilliance of the Small Catechism, and the nuance of the Formula of Concord. Students brought real-life questions and made real-life applications, astutely articulating their faith, their questions, and their epiphanies. They even told their friends about class, prompting one such atheist friend to come to my office to spend

time exploring the Christian faith together. I will vouch for the faithfulness of each and every one of these students—all will be tremendous servants and witnesses as they grow into their vocations. I’m honored to serve these students.

These are a few of many others. Everyone at Concordia could share similar stories. Concordia is an amazing, confessional, faithful, loving, and inspiring place. We are not a tragedy. There are challenges. There are disagreements. These disagreements can be enriching, or they can be destructive. I pray for enrichment. I give thanks to you, my

siblings in Christ, who hold our university in prayer and in love. I am happy to talk with any of you about it—please, reach out to me! I also encourage you to visit our University

website where you’ll see more about our work on Lutheran identity.

In service to our Lord,

Rev. James F. Marriott, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology and Music

Concordia University Texas

335 views1 comment

1 Comment

An amazing letter from an amazing human being. All of these fine people are dedicated to the advancement of the gospel and truly interested in doing that with all nations. Jim, I applaud your letter. Thank you for writing it. I always loved to go to seminary as an SMP student so I could enjoy the gifts that God gave you through the beautiful music that you shared. May God bless you in your new bi-vocational call! Now you can join the ranks of us that love being bi-vocational pastors. It is a joy. It can be very challenging, but it is very rewarding work!

bottom of page