As part of the requirement for graduation, each senior completes a thesis—a capstone paper in an area of his choosing. During the first two seminary years and during the vicar year, students look for an area of theology or ministry that interests them. They are encouraged to work with WELS congregations or ministries on research that will benefit the church body. Throughout their senior year, under supervision of an advisor, they research and write the thesis.
In March, the students presented their research and papers to the students on campus. The diversity of the theses reflects the diversity of the students’ interests within the body of Christ. Topics ranged from ministering to recovering alcoholics to preaching the Law to Christians, from a pastor’s struggle as both sinner and saint to equipping Christian soldiers before their deployments, from reaching out to former prisoners to ministering to men who had a dysfunctional father figure.
“You spend so much time poring over ancient texts,” said President Paul O. Wendland. “The thesis gives you an opportunity to discover something new for yourself, to investigate a problem or issue and write something about it.”
Each year, the faculty also hand out the Timothy and Titus Awards for two of the papers. Both Timothy and Titus were “sons in the faith” to the Apostle Paul, and the awards reflect how the seminary continues to train the next generation of those who will preach the gospel. This year, the winners were Peter Schlicht (Can Meaning Exist Without God? A Close Reading of Qohelet in Light of the Secular Social Imaginary) and Nathan Schulte (Using the Old and New Man in Sanctification).
All the senior theses are available at http://essays.wls.wels.net/.