Concordia Seminary, St. Louis celebrated 85 students and five honorees Friday as part of the school’s 2021 Commencement exercises. The ceremony marked the close of the 182nd academic year.
Of the students recognized, 51 earned a Master of Divinity, 11 earned a Master of Arts and eight earned a Master of Sacred Theology. In addition, three students earned a Doctor of Ministry and eight earned a Doctor of Philosophy. Four students who earned Residential Alternate Route certificates also were recognized. A list of students and their degrees and certificates in the Commencement program is available at csl.edu/commencement.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” said Seminary President Dr. Thomas J. Egger, quoting from Heb. 13:8, which served as the theme for the academic year. “And so Concordia Seminary has always been about Jesus Christ. May she always be.
“We serve The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), which has always been about Jesus Christ. May she always be. Our graduates go to new or continued ministries that, I pray, are also about Jesus Christ, now and to the end. For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
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 students eligible to receive a call as a pastor or deaconess in the LCMS. Special Assistant to the President Dr. Daniel Preus delivered the sermon “You are ready” from the Gospel text, John 15-16.
“The Word of God prepares you. It makes you ready for the tasks that God sets before you, whether it’s preaching or teaching or comforting or admonishing or advising,” Preus told the students receiving their theological diplomas. “The Holy Spirit makes you ready for all of the work you will do only by means of His Word. You need to be in that Word. The Word makes you ready.
“At the center of your ministry of the Word will always be the person and the work of Jesus,” he added. “He is the center of the message you will proclaim. And you are ready for the ministry because you know this.”
Commencement exercises outdoors in the Main Quadrangle wrapped up the day’s events. Academic degrees and honors were presented during the ceremony. Dr. John Wohlrabe Jr., second vice president of the LCMS, delivered the Commencement address.
“Jesus will uphold his church no matter what difficulties lie ahead,” Wohlrabe said. “It’s all about Jesus. He calls, He builds His church. He sends us out. He is with us even to the end of the age. Although it is not you who builds the church, He uses you to do it.”
The Seminary’s faculty presented the Christus Vivit Award to Chris Shearman in recognition of his exemplary service to the church. Shearman has dedicated much of his life’s work to the people and communities of St. Louis, Mo., using his expertise in service to the Great Commission as he seeks to help Lutheran congregations engage their surrounding communities. The faculty also presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dr. Robert L. Rahn (’61) of Macomb, Mich.; and an honorary Doctor of Divinity to Wohlrabe of St. Francis, Wis.; an honorary Doctor of Letters to Ted Kober of Billings, Mont.; and an honorary Doctor of Laws to Seminary President Emeritus Dr. Dale A. Meyer of Collinsville, Ill. Learn more about each of the honorees at csl.edu/commencement.
Also during the ceremony, Egger recognized three professors who retired after the 2019-20 academic year, bestowing each with an Emeritus Medallion for their service to the Seminary: Meyer, who retired after 15 years as president and 19 years as a faculty member; Dr. Andrew Bartelt, who retired after 42 years as a faculty member; and Dr. Jeffrey Gibbs, who retired after 28 years as a faculty member.
This year’s graduates join more than 7,000 called leaders of the LCMS around the world and more than 13,000 individuals who have received degrees from Concordia Seminary in the school’s history.
“God bless you dear brothers and sisters through Jesus Christ forever,” Egger told the graduates in his concluding remarks.
Afterward, Egger 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, “Thy Strong Word.”
The Seminary’s 183rd academic year with the theme “Your Word is a Lamp to My Feet” will begin Aug. 27 with the Opening Service in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus.