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Seminary Commencement celebrates 84 students

Six honorees recognized; ground broken for renovated library

Some 84 students and six honorees were celebrated and recognized at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis Friday, May 19, as part of the school’s 2017 Commencement exercises.

Of the 84, 53 earned the Master of Divinity degree, eight earned the Master of Arts degree, one earned the Master of Arts in Deaconess Studies and eight students earned a Master of Sacred Theology degree. In addition, 14 students completed doctoral degrees: eight earned the Doctor of Ministry degree and six earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Find the list of students and their degrees in the Commencement program here.

“Any Commencement is significant, but even more so is your graduation in this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation,” Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer told the graduates. “Go forward with optimism and joyful confidence in the Gospel by grace alone, by Scripture alone, by faith alone and all in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Commencement activities began Friday morning with the Theological Diploma Service in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. During the service, theological diplomas were presented to all graduating students eligible to receive a call as a pastor or deaconess in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Dr. Mark Rockenbach, associate professor of Practical Theology and adviser for personal growth and leadership development, delivered the sermon. He shared the story of Stephen, who was stoned, and how he constantly pointed people to Jesus.

“That’s what you are going to be doing,” Rockenbach told the students. “You are going to be pointing people to Jesus, not to yourself or some other thing.”

After the service, the Seminary held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library. Preparations for the $6 million renovation of the Seminary library began in February 2017 and construction is expected to take between 12 and 18 months. More information about the transformation of the original 1962 library building into a state-of-the-art learning center can be found here.

Glenn and Kay Hasse of Naples, Fla., and formerly of Edina, Minn., committed $3 million for student scholarship endowments and needed renovations to the library as part of Concordia Seminary’s Generations Campaign. The library will be named in honor of the Hasses’ daughter, who died in car accident at the age of 17.

The couple presented the Seminary with a senior class photo taken a few months before Kristine died. The photo will hang in the library, which is expected to reopen in fall 2018.

“This is a historic moment,” said Director of Library Services Rev. Ben Haupt during the groundbreaking ceremony. “Theologians from around the world, as they enter this library will read the name, Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library. We give thanks for her honor.”

Kay Hasse described her daughter as a great student who was well-liked by her classmates and teachers, who was compassionate, had a great sense of humor and loved life.

Through their gift, Glenn Hasse said he and his wife want to honor Kristine but also pastors who have ministered, loved and supported them through the years.

“When you’re talking, bringing people to Jesus, you’re having an effect not only on them, but on generations,” Glenn Hasse said to the graduating pastoral students. “As they have their children and they have children, it goes on. The ministers who are coming out of here, who are learning and studying in this particular library, this is our hope and this why we are involved.”

The ceremonial groundbreaking was split in two parts. Meyer climbed inside a backhoe to remove a large clump of dirt and asphalt from alongside the library. Afterward, he raised his arms in celebration as the audience applauded. The event’s dignitaries, which include the Hasses, Meyer and Haupt, used shovels to break ground, which also was greeted with applause.

Dean of Chapel Dr. Kent Burreson performed the blessing and benediction for the groundbreaking. “Let the Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library, which will be renovated here, serve as a place where God will cause His name to dwell and where He will come to His people and bless them,” he said.

Commencement exercises wrapped up the day’s events Friday evening in the Seminary’s Main Quadrangle.

Academic degrees and honors were presented during this ceremony, and Dr. Curtis Peters, a 1969 graduate of Concordia Seminary, pastor emeritus of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Louisville, Ky., delivered the Commencement address.

“Congratulations, you have accomplished a great deal,” Peters told the graduates. “You are about to embark on a wonderful journey of ministry in service to our Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is a moment to savor.”

Peters shared two pastoral lessons that Martin Luther displayed and “still teaches us,” he said. “Lesson No. 1: Never underestimate the power and effectiveness of preaching the Word of God. We know the Holy Spirit works through the Word. We must act on that knowledge. I encourage you to place your preaching as supreme importance in your ministry.

“Lesson No. 2: Practice pastoral patience,” Peters said. “Preach the Word and be patient. Don’t pull hair but let the Holy Spirit work.”

The Seminary’s faculty presented the Christus Vivit Award to Richard and Lynn Gast of Orange, Calif., in recognition of their exemplary service to the church. The faculty also presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dr. Michael Coppersmith (’80) of Georgetown, Texas; an honorary Doctor of Letters to Dr. John Lautenschlager, M.D., of St. Louis; and an honorary Doctor of Divinity to Peters and Dr. Carlos Walter Winterle of Edgemead, Cape Town, South Africa. Learn more about each of the honorees here.

This year’s graduates join more than 7,000 called leaders of the LCMS around the world and more than 12,500 individuals who have received degrees from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in the school’s history.

After the degrees were awarded, Meyer closed the Seminary’s 178th academic year with the theme, “By Grace Alone, Grace in His Son,” in the “name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Meyer concluded Commencement exercises with the words of Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”

About Concordia Seminary
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis provides Gospel-centered graduate-level theological education for pastors, missionaries, deaconesses, scholars and other leaders in the name of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). To learn more, visit www.csl.edu.

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