Concordia Seminary, St. Louis celebrated 67 students and seven honorees Friday, May 17, as part of the school’s 2019 Commencement exercises. The ceremony marked the end of the 180th academic year.
Of the students recognized, 40 earned the Master of Divinity degree, five earned the Master of Arts degree and seven students earned a Master of Sacred Theology degree. In addition, six earned the Doctor of Ministry degree and four earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Five students who earned their Residential Alternate Route certificates also were recognized. Find the list of students and their degrees and certificates in the Commencement program here.
“You are being sent to people and to places who need the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer told the graduates. “That’s why God through the church is sending you to where you are going and I pray that you will be sent with such a spirit of thankfulness that your words are not able to appreciate and express the depth of your feeling.”
The day’s activities began 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). Provost Dr. Douglas L. Rutt delivered the sermon from John 13, “What Kind of Love?”
“You are a disciple of Jesus — you have a certain hope, a certain strength, a certain peace that cannot be explained in any other way,” Rutt said. “You are a disciple of Jesus who empowers you with a kind of love that will free you to serve, to truly serve and to truly love.”
Commencement exercises in the Main Quadrangle outdoors wrapped up the day’s events.
Academic degrees and honors were presented during the ceremony. U.S. Rep. Dr. Larry Bucshon of the 8th District of Indiana delivered the Commencement address, which focused on the interface of government and religion.
“Where do I see you, today’s graduates, playing a substantial role in the future of our country?” Bucshon asked during his address. “‘Here am I! Send me.’ — your theme from this academic year reflecting the zeal to take the Gospel into your community, nation and world — is a great calling card so to speak. Engagement in the community is obvious but being involved in your nation and world? Maybe not so much.
“As an elected official I’d like to encourage you to find an avenue to engage with your government officials. … A message of love, understanding and forgiveness is one everyone should embrace. The goal from my perspective is to soften the hearts of those who may have lost their spiritual way and help bring them back on course so the decisions they make have a strong moral and ethical foundation.”
The Seminary’s faculty presented the Christus Vivit Award to Dan and Marti Huss of Cincinnati, Ohio, in recognition of their exemplary service to the church. The Husses have been active in area Lutheran ministries and are avid supporters of the Seminary, from which their son, John, graduated. The faculty also presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dr. Samuel Nafzger (’65) of Washington, Mo.; and an honorary Doctor of Divinity to Archbishop Jānis Vanags of Riga, Latvia; honorary Doctor of Letters to Dr. Werner Rudolf Albert Klän of Oberursel, Germany; and honorary Doctor of Laws to Bucshon and to Dr. Melissa Salomón of Chula Vista, Calif. Learn more about each of the honorees here.
Also during the ceremony, Dean of Faculty Dr. David Peter recognized retiring Mission Professor of Exegetical Theology Dr. Victor Raj and presented him with an Emeritus Medallion for his service to the Seminary. Raj retired after 24 years as a faculty member.
“His zeal for the mission of the church, quiet and steady advocacy for the multinational reality of Christ’s kingdom, selfless service, quick smile and generous outlook have been a tonic to his colleagues that will be sorely missed,” Peter said.
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.
“The church in the name of God is sending you, sending you to lead lives of significance,” Meyer told the graduates in his concluding remarks. “God will go with you and His spirit will attend you and your labor in the Lord will not be in vain. As you may have heard, it is a great time to be getting into the ministry and it is a great time for all of us being the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Afterward, Meyer officially closed the academic year and those in attendance stood and recited the Lord’s Prayer in unison. After the benediction, the graduates recessed to the hymn, “Alleluia! Jesus is Risen.”
The Seminary’s 181st academic year with the theme “Grace, Mercy, Peace: Lives of Significance” will begin Aug. 23 with the Opening Service in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus.
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.