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Seminarian receives prestigious FASPE fellowship

Fellows will study roles of clergy, ethics in Nazi Germany, Holocaust

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis fourth-year seminarian Jess Biermann was recently selected for the 2019 Seminary Program of the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE).

Biermann was selected from about 200 applicants from across the world to receive one of 14 available fellowships. The fellows will participate in a two-week program set in Germany and Poland, including a visit to the site of the infamous Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp. The program runs June 15-28.

Biermann joins a diverse group of 70 FASPE fellows across five programs who were chosen through a competitive process. FASPE covers all program costs, including travel, food and lodging.
“FASPE is a brilliant opportunity to engage with individuals from diverse contexts regarding matters that have a direct impact on the societies in which we work and serve,” Biermann said.
According to FASPE, the fellowship program for seminary students addresses the complicity of clergy in the execution of Nazi policies. Topics to be discussed include clergy members who failed to speak out against atrocity, postwar confession, apologies and reconciliation, and the right and responsibility of religious leaders to be ethical educators. FASPE provides a holistic curriculum that looks beyond dogma and norms to focus on ethical problems faced by individual leaders in the contemporary pastoral or academic setting. After the program, each fellow submits an essay focused on a contemporary ethical issue of his or her choice. Select essays are published in the annual FASPE Journal, which showcases the work of the fellows.

“The FASPE fellowships are extremely competitive and I am glad that Jess was chosen as a fellow,” said Dr. David Schmitt, the Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Professor of Homiletics and Literature, who supported Bierman’s application. “His passion for critical, substantive theological conversation, along with his openness to learning through dialogue and debate, will enable Jess to both contribute to the program’s multidisciplinary inquiry and develop as a scholar. I’m so pleased he will have this opportunity.”

Biermann is set to graduate this month with Master of Divinity, and then he will begin work on a Master of Sacred Theology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a concentration in applied ethics from Taylor University in Upland, Ind.

Biermann is the third Concordia Seminary student to be chosen for the fellowship program. Christian Einerston, now serving as a vicar at Logos Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, Pa., was a 2018 recipient. Concluding seminarian Paul Flo was a 2017 recipient.

To learn more about FASPE and its programs, visit For a complete list of fellows, visit

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