May 17, 2024 Print This Article

2024 Commencement lauds concluding students

Six honorees recognized

Some 83 students and six honorees were celebrated and recognized this evening at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis as part of the school’s 2024 Commencement exercises.

Of the graduates recognized, 55 earned a Master of Divinity, 10 earned a Master of Arts and six earned a Master of Sacred Theology. Additionally, two graduates earned a Doctor of Ministry and six earned a Doctor of Philosophy. The Seminary also recognized four students who will earn a pastoral certificate upon completion of the Residential Alternate Route Program.

Find the full list of students and their degrees and certificates in the Commencement program at

The day began with the Theological Diploma Service in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus in the morning. During the service, students eligible to receive a call as a pastor or deaconess in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) received theological diplomas. Rev. W. Max Mons, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Chapel and University Center in Iowa City, Iowa, and chairman of the Seminary’s Board of Regents, delivered the sermon, “Bear Witness” from John 15:26-16:4.

“Brothers and sisters, Jesus has trained you, formed you, called you, approved you to be His witness in this hour. Jesus doesn’t want you to fall away, which is why He tells you about the persecutions now, as you get ready to go out. He tells you these things now, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that He told them to you,” Mons said. “And that’s not all He tells you. Hear the words of Jesus: ‘When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness.’”

Celebratory activities culminated in Commencement exercises hosted in the Main Quadrangle Friday evening.

Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, delivered the Commencement address.

“Our God is a God of never-ending beginnings. Even when the Word made flesh stretched out His hands on the cross out of love for us and said, ‘It is finished,’ even then, the story wasn’t over, was it? No, it was really only just beginning,” Lehenbauer said. “So tonight is just one more beginning — a pretty significant one for all of you, of course, but for the God who created you, redeemed you, chose you in Christ before the beginning of time, sanctified you and has promised to complete the good work He began in you, for God this is just one more of those countless beginnings, which is to say yet again that whatever lies ahead, He can handle it. He will see you through it. He will bring it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus.” 

During Commencement, the Seminary’s faculty presented the Christus Vivit Award to Dr. Allan and Carol Buckman of St. Louis, Mo., for their exemplary service to the church. As former LCMS missionaries to Nigeria, Carol became aware that a group of refugees from an area of the country where they had worked had been resettled in St. Louis. This inspired the couple to launch Christian Friends of New Americans (CFNA), a mission to which they have dedicated over two decades of their lives and that continues to serve new American families through cross-cultural ministries in the greater St. Louis area. Allan also served as a Synod mission-board executive for 26 years.

The faculty also presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dr. Joel Lehenbauer of St. Louis, Mo.; an honorary Doctor of Divinity to Rev. James Wiggins Sr. of Pensacola, Fla.; an honorary Doctor of Letters to Dr. Darius Petkūnas of Klaipėda, Lithuania; and an honorary Doctor of Laws to Director of Christian Education Mark Kempff of St. Louis, Mo. More information about each honoree is available at

Seminary President Dr. Thomas J. Egger also expressed gratitude as he recognized the retirement of Dr. Mark Seifrid, senior professor of Exegetical Theology. Seifrid has served as a faculty member since 2015.

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.

At the end of the Commencement exercises, Seminary President Egger cited the Seminary’s 2023-24 academic theme, “We Belong to Christ,” which is drawn especially from 1 Cor. 6:19-20 and Rom. 14:7-9, as he addressed the students.

“Graduates, you belong to Jesus Christ. He has paid for you, not with gold or silver but with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death. He did this, as the Catechism puts it, ‘that I may be His own …’ We are His, and He is ours,” Egger said. “No matter where life takes us, no matter when death takes us. We belong to Christ.”

Egger closed the 185th academic year, and the assembly concordantly recited the Lord’s Prayer. The graduates departed as the clarion brass played the recessional hymn, “O Day Full of Grace” (LSB 503).

Concordia Seminary’s 186th academic year, with the theme “Let Us Fix Our Eyes on Jesus” from Heb. 12:2 and Ps. 141:8, will begin with the Opening Service Aug. 23, 2024.

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