Lutheran Identity and Adaptability: Concordia-New York and Lutheran Identity Standards

Paul Sauer, Fordham University


Concordia-NY is a higher-education institution of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod with a 140-year educational history. In 1971, Concordia, which had been a two-year college, primarily training church workers to be pastors and teachers, expanded to become a four-year college with a broad educational focus. Subsequent years saw a significant demographic shift in the religious makeup of the student body and the faculty and staff. This study explores how Concordia-NY maintained its Lutheran identity as an LCMS institution during the critical four decades following its expansion to a four-year institution (1974–2014). The study utilizes qualitative methods to analyze the ten standards contained in Concordia University System’s 2014 Lutheran identity standards to assess Concordia’s Lutheran identity during that critical period. It also utilizes interviews and archival information to provide the story behind Concordia’s quantitative assessment. This study places Concordia’s history within the broader history of Lutheran higher education in general and LCMS higher education in particular. Concordia-NY maintained its fidelity to its Lutheran identity by being adaptive to the student population that it served. While the number of Lutherans teaching and attending the college decreased significantly following the expansion to a four-year college, there was a concerted effort by the college to maintain foundational Lutheran educational principles even as it faced internal and external pressures.

Subject Area

Religious education|Education history|Religious history

Recommended Citation

Sauer, Paul, "Lutheran Identity and Adaptability: Concordia-New York and Lutheran Identity Standards" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28866950.