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Former Concordia Seminary Professor Preus enters rest

Served the church as pastor, professor, university president

Dr. Jacob Preus III photo
Dr. Jacob “Jack” Preus III
Dr. Jacob “Jack” Aall Ottesen Preus III, former professor of Systematic Theology and dean of faculty at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, entered rest in Jesus Aug. 4, 2022, in Apache Junction, Ariz. He was 69 years old.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at Christ Greenfield Lutheran Church in Gilbert, Ariz.

Preus faithfully served the church as pastor, professor, university president and administrator. He lectured and taught extensively throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia and across the United States.

“Dr. Preus was one of my favorite professors at Concordia Seminary when I was a student in the 1990s. He was an excellent teacher and very pastoral. He placed great emphasis on the clarity, the richness and the certainty of the Gospel of Christ, and he taught his students to value this also,” said Seminary President Dr. Thomas J. Egger. “We are saddened by this loss, and we thank God for the blessing Jack was to our Seminary and to the church. It will be a joy to see him again, arrayed in glory, on the Day of Resurrection.”

Preus most recently served as a higher education consultant for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in Uruguay, where he was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the inaugural Lutheran University in Latin America. Previously, he was the executive director for the Luther Institute in Southeast Asia (2014-19), working in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Previous work also included serving as the executive vice president for mission advancement at Bethesda Lutheran Communities in Watertown, Wis. (2009-14). During his tenure at Bethesda, Preus contributed to the expansion of Bethesda’s international collaboration and helped establish the Bethesda College at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon.

From 1998-2009, he served as the third president of Concordia University, Irvine, Calif. (CUI), where Preus said that he was “guided by the belief that a Christian higher education equips students to serve both God’s Word and God’s world.” Under Preus’ leadership, student enrollment increased by nearly 150% and new campus facilities and programs were added to sustain the growth. During his tenure at CUI, Preus oversaw the development and expansion of partnerships with institutions in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

In 1986, Preus joined the faculty at Concordia Seminary. He served as assistant professor of Systematic Theology (1986-93), chairman of the department of Systematic Theology (1992-94), associate professor of Systematic Theology (1997-98) and dean of faculty (1994-98). Also, he was the liaison to the Instituto Hispano de Teologia, the precursor to the Seminary’s Center for Hispanic Studies.

Concurrently, Preus served as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy (Reserves) and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 24th Regiment of the U.S. Marine Corps during the First Gulf War.

Before joining the Seminary faculty, Preus was a parish pastor at Holy Sacraments Lutheran Church in St. Louis (1983-86) and Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. (1980-83). He was ordained May 25, 1980, at Timothy Lutheran Church in St. Louis.

He has written and published extensively and has served on a variety of community and church boards.

Preus attended Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (1974) and received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and American Studies at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. (1975). He earned his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) (1980), Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) (1985) and Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) (1986) from Concordia Seminary.

Preus is survived by his wife, Sherry, their three children, J.A.O. IV, Emily Kathryn and Rebecca Elizabeth, and eight grandchildren.

His father, Dr. J.A.O. Preus II, was the eighth president of the LCMS. His grandfather, J.A.O. Preus, was a politician who served as Minnesota’s eighth state auditor and 20th governor.

Memorial donations may be made to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.; and Christ Greenfield Lutheran Church, Gilbert, Ariz.

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 csl.edu.