Commencement at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis


Concordia Seminary’s Commencement exercises for the 2022 graduating class will take place Friday, May 20, 2022.

The day will begin with a Theological Diploma Service at 10 a.m. CDT in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus and end with Commencement at 7 p.m. in the Main Quadrangle. Both events will also be available via live stream at

During the morning service, all graduates who have been certified by the Concordia Seminary faculty as eligible to receive calls to serve as pastors or deaconesses in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) will receive theological diplomas. Provost Dr. Douglas L. Rutt will deliver the sermon. In the evening, certificates, academic degrees and honors will be conferred. Dr. Patrick Ferry, retired president of Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, will give the Commencement address.

Join in the celebration virtually by sharing comments and photos and using #CSLGrad2022 and #ThyWordIsALamp on social media.

Schedule of Commencement events

10 a.m. CDT Theological Diploma Service Chapel
7 p.m. CDT Commencement ceremony Main Quadrangle
(Chapel if rain)

Commencement honorees

Six special honors will be awarded during the Commencement ceremony

The Christus Vivit Award: Chosen by the faculty and awarded to ordained ministers, commissioned ministers and lay persons who demonstrate faithful and fruitful service to the church in their respective calling.

Renee Gibbs photoRenée Gibbs has served the Lord in many vocations during her life. She was baptized into Christ as an infant and raised in a Lutheran family. At a young age, she had thoughts of becoming a missionary after meeting a visiting missionary. She married her high school sweetheart, Jeff, who later became a pastor and a professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Their life together has afforded her ample opportunities to share the love of Jesus with others.

As a teenager, Gibbs was drawn to help those in need, specifically those with disabilities. At age 21, she served for three years as founding director of Camp Cougar, a summer residential camp for children and adults with mental disabilities. She graduated from the University of Houston in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in special education and went on to teach those with learning disabilities in both public and Lutheran schools.

Gibbs’ concern for the vulnerable has led her to advocate for life-affirming causes, especially on behalf of unborn children. As a teacher at Lutheran High School in St. Charles, Mo., she started and advised the “Teens for Life” group. She led a group of young people to Washington, D.C., for the “March for Life” 21 times and chaperoned trips even after retiring from teaching. She served on the Lutherans for Life Board of Directors for 11 years and is now on the Board of Directors of Coalition for Life St. Louis. She and Jeff founded and served as the faculty advisers for the Concordia Seminary Life Team for many years, where they helped students see the need to address vital issues in their congregations. She often prays outside Planned Parenthood in St. Louis.

While her husband served in parish ministry in Oregon for 10 years, Gibbs’ experience as a pastor’s wife led her to love and cherish others in that role. Soon after her husband was called to teach at Concordia Seminary in 1992, she began her volunteer work on campus. She has been leading women’s weekly Bible studies for 25 years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Bible study group has chosen to stay online, thereby including pastors’ wives and missionaries from around the United States, East Africa, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

Each year, Gibbs helps welcome new women to campus through the “After the Boxes are Unpacked” class, which she has taught 33 times. She also served as the Seminary Women’s Association adviser for several years. She has valued these opportunities to know, love and encourage women during their time at the Seminary as well as after their husbands receive their calls. These connections have flowered into invitations for Gibbs to speak at numerous Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod district and regional pastors’ wives’ retreats across the country. This spring she led Seminary women through 1 Thessalonians at their spring retreat.

Gibbs continues to share Christ’s love through missions. She has organized and helped lead 17 Seminary teams on mission trips to Guatemala. The Lord provided this chance for her to be a missionary, while not leaving her husband at home for too long!

Gibbs earned a Master of Education from Webster University in 1996, and a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology from Concordia Seminary in 2009.

Gibbs loves camping, hiking and appreciating God’s creation, especially from her 1999 Mazda Miata with the top down!

The Gibbses have been married 48 years and live in St. Louis. They have four children: Abby (Mike) Soejoto, Joel, Miriam (Josh) Mengers and Jesse (Brandi). They have 14 grandchildren who all live in southern California. They are active members at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in south St. Louis.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award: Awarded to a graduate of Concordia Seminary who has rendered exceptional service in at least one of the following areas: parish ministry, mission field, preparation of church workers or Synod service.

Rev. Eloy González photoRev. Eloy González has served the churches and institutions of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) for more than 20 years. In his retirement, he continues to serve on the LCMS Texas District’s care team and is the district’s liaison to the Lutheran Synod of Mexico and the LCMS Missions FORO – a coordinating body that helps identify mission support to Mexico. He also is the intentional interim pastor of El Buen Pastor Lutheran Church in McAllen, Texas, a congregation in which he previously served as a licensed deacon.

González is a second-career pastor. Previously, he served 12 years in the U.S. Navy and earned the rank of chief petty officer. He also worked as a project manager for a medical informatics consulting firm, and he taught computer technology at Texas State Technical College and was an adjunct statistics instructor at the University of Texas—Pan American.

González studied for the ministry through the Hispanic Institute of Theology, the predecessor of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis’ Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS). Upon graduating in 2001, he planted Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in San Antonio and served as its first pastor. He then became associate director of CHS at Concordia Seminary. He later returned to Texas as senior pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Irving, where he remained until his retirement in 2020.

He also has served on Concordia Seminary’s Alumni Council and National Campaign Council, and he has been an adjunct instructor through the Center for Hispanic Studies. He has served as president of the LCMS National Hispanic Convention and the National Lutheran Hispanic Mission Society. He also served on the LCMS Board for Mission Services from 2004-10 and was elected vice president of Area B of the LCMS Texas District, which includes northern and eastern Texas.

González enjoys identifying and mentoring future pastors and church workers. He loves to create possibilities for Christians to serve God and the current and future believers in their midst. He loves to see people mature into Christian leaders who model discipleship and evangelism as they live in their communities lovingly and peaceably.

González also finds joy in reading and writing, as well as journaling, which allows him to expand his collection of fountain pens. When he’s not writing notes or sending cards to people, he likely is gardening, cycling or taking a spin class. He and his wife, Sofi, live in Mission, Texas, and enjoy traveling. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa: Awarded to clergy who have rendered outstanding service in church life.

Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Ferry photoThe Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Ferry, president emeritus of Concordia University, Wisconsin, Mequon, and Ann Arbor, Mich., retired in 2021 after a 24-year presidency. He began his academic career at Concordia University as an assistant professor of European and church history in 1991. In retirement Ferry is the part-time executive director of Concordia Lutheran High School in Pflugerville, Texas.

Previously, Ferry served as campus pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center at the University of Wyoming in Laramie from 1989-91. He was assistant pastor at Wheat Ridge Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, Colo., from 1987-89.

Ferry earned a Ph.D. in European history from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1996; an M.A. in history from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1989; an M.Div. from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1987; and a B.A. from St. John’s College, Winfield, Kan., in 1981.

The author of numerous articles, reviews and essays on education, religion and history, Ferry also has published a memoir, Faith in the Freshman: A Story of Hoops and Hopes. He also has made numerous presentations at meetings, workshops and conferences and has served as a member on numerous higher education and community boards.

Recently Ferry was awarded the Christine Moritz Servant Leader Award by the Association of Lutheran Secondary Schools. In 2009, following the establishment of Concordia University’s School of Pharmacy, he was awarded the Milwaukee BizTimes Health Care Heroes Award for advancements in health care. That same year he was recognized among “the Milwaukee area’s most influential people” by the Milwaukee Business Journal in its first “Power Book.”

Ferry and his wife, Tamara (nee Saleska), live in Leander, Texas, and have five adult children, and four (soon-to-be five) grandchildren.

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa: Awarded to a qualified person within The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) or one of its partner churches who demonstrates outstanding dedication to the theology and mission of the LCMS and its international partners.

Rev. Dr. Erní W. Seibert photoRev. Dr. Erní W. Seibert has served as the executive director of the Bible Society of Brazil (SBB) since 2018 and has 49 years of experience as a Lutheran pastor, educator, author and administrator. In addition to his role with the SBB, Seibert also is a board member of United Bible Societies and Lutheran Hour Brazil.

Seibert was born in 1952 in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul. He was ordained in 1974 and served two congregations in his home state over the next 12 years. He taught practical and systematic theology at the Concordia Institute in São Paulo from 1985-2002, and he also served as the academic dean and director of the Institute’s Superior College of Theology. He served as vice president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brazil (IELB) from 1988-92.

Seibert graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theology from Concordia Seminary, Porto Alegre, in 1973, and a master’s degree in theology from Concordia Seminary, Sao Leopoldo, in 1989. He earned a Ph.D. from the Methodist University of São Paulo in 1995. His areas of research include confessional unity, Christian communication and theological language.

Seibert is the author of four books published through Editora Concordia, the publishing arm of the IELB: From Dating to Marriage, The Church Today, Introduction to the Lutheran Confessions and The Mission of God in the New Millennium. He also has written for the SBB.

Seibert worked with the SBB for 25 years before his appointment as executive director. He is an advocate for access to biblical teaching and brings a mission-oriented, contextually aware approach to his current role, which also involves fundraising and communications for SBB social programs. In addition to these duties, he oversees SBB’s Bible Museum near São Paulo.

Seibert and his wife, Lígia, live in the city of Cotia, in the metropolitan area of São Paulo, Brazil, and have four children and four grandchildren.

Doctor of Letters, honoris causa: Awarded to a qualified person within The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) or one of its partner churches who demonstrates creativity, courage and excellence in the literary articulation of the Christian faith.

Dr. Joseph Herl photoDr. Joseph Herl is professor of music at Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, where he has served since 2000. He earned a B.A. in music from Concordia College New York, Bronxville, where he was awarded the college’s prizes in music and classics. He subsequently received a master’s degree in organ performance from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) and a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he assisted his adviser, Nicholas Temperley, in producing The Hymn Tune Index: A Census of English-Language Hymn Tunes in Printed Sources from 1535–1820 (Oxford University Press).

During his time at the University of Illinois, Herl studied in Germany on a Fulbright dissertation research grant. He is the author of Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism: Choir, Congregation, and Three Centuries of Conflict (Oxford University Press), which was awarded the 2005 Roland H. Bainton Prize in art and music history from the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference. While working on the book, Herl also was involved in the preparation of Lutheran Service Book (Concordia Publishing House), the most recent hymnal of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. With Peter C. Reske and Dr. Jon D. Vieker, Herl edited the two-volume Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns (CPH), which tells the story behind every hymn in the hymnal.

Herl’s current research interests include Gregorian chant sung by early Lutherans, the historical roots of the contemporary worship movement and the role of children in the Lutheran service. He is especially interested in promoting church music that instills the Word of God in the hearts of children and adults so they never forget it or lose it.

Additionally, Herl is a composer of music for choir, organ and piano. His music has been published by Concordia Publishing House, Oxford University Press and MorningStar Music Publishers. His hymn tunes have appeared in several North American and European hymnals. Lutheran Service Book contains three of his original tunes, one hymn translation, a liturgical setting and 22 hymn settings.

Herl serves Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Neb., as organist, and he holds the associateship and choir master certifications of the American Guild of Organists. In 2018 he received the annual “Outstanding Teaching Award” from Concordia University, and in 2020 he was appointed research professor in the School of Music at the University of Illinois, succeeding Nicholas Temperley as director of the Hymn Tune Index, a position he holds concurrently with his full-time service at Concordia University.

Herl lives in Seward with his wife, Jenny, who teaches chemistry at Concordia University, and their daughters, Anna and Mary.

Doctor of Letters, honoris causa: Awarded to a qualified person within The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) or one of its partner churches who demonstrates creativity, courage and excellence in the literary articulation of the Christian faith.

Urara Masaki photoUrara Masaki was born in Akashi, Japan. Although her parents were not yet Christians, they sent her to a reputable Christian kindergarten. Because of its positive influence, she attended Sunday school for several years. She came to receive faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior during her college years and was baptized at age 21. Soon after becoming a Christian, she developed a desire to read the Bible in its original languages.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Kwansei Gakuin University in 1981, she enrolled at Kobe Lutheran Theological Seminary (KLTS), where she earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) in 1985. From 1990-92, she studied at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. (CTSFW), where she first encountered Fundamental Greek Grammar (FGG) written by Dr. James W. Voelz, the Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Professor of New Testament Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

She holds a Master of Arts (M.A.) from CTSFW (1998). She studied at Concordia Seminary from 1999-2002 and completed course work for a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in exegetical theology.

Masaki’s husband, Makito, has a Ph.D. from Concordia Seminary (2008) and also has been a professor and principal of KLTS. Masaki has supported him in ensuring that the educational standards and Lutheran identity of KLTS are maintained.

When Masaki was asked to teach Greek at KLTS in 1995, she translated FGG into Japanese to use privately in her classes. She has been instructing seminarians and students in Greek grammar at KLTS for 26 years and counting, and since 2013 she also has taught at Kansai Bible College.

Masaki first taught Hebrew in 2008 when the KLTS Hebrew instructor was on sabbatical. At that time, she also translated Fundamental Biblical Hebrew by Concordia Seminary Emeritus Professor Dr. Andrew H. Bartelt into Japanese for personal use in class. Recently, she also was part of a project to start a correspondence course in Hebrew.

Her classroom motto is, “With a Greek New Testament and a dictionary, you can live happily on a desert island for the rest of your life without electricity.” Her joy is to encourage all students to reach that goal and devise different ways of teaching to achieve it. That way, their inspiration will not be diminished when they are sent to speak the Gospel in Japan, where Christians account for less than 1% of the total population.

In addition to teaching, Masaki also enjoys leading cooking and Bible clubs in churches and kindergartens, which she has done for many years. While cakes and meat bake, she has Bible classes and shares the Gospel with young mothers who are not Christians. She also has supported Christian women who want to serve the church by initiating the diaconia development committee. She is thankful that God has given her an interest in the written word and literature. Her cousin is Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro. She and her husband live in Kobe, Japan.

Service Folders  

Theological Diploma Service (PDF)
Commencement (PDF)

Photo Albums  

Theological Diploma Service


Archived video of the service is available.


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Helpful Tips


Plan to arrive early to allow time to park, walk to the event site and find your seat. Out of consideration for our candidates and participants, please turn off cell phones and refrain from conversation during the chapel service and ceremony.


There is ample parking for all guests. Please enter campus at the main entrance via Seminary Place. Guests will be directed to the nearest parking space by Seminary parking attendants. Hang any disabled parking placards or reserved parking tags from your rearview mirror as you enter campus so that attendants can provide appropriate directions.


Plan to arrive early to make sure you have ample time to find your seat before the service or ceremony begins. Please do not block aisles or passageways.


Seats for guests with disabilities are available upon request. Requests for disability-related accommodations can be made by contacting us at or 314-505-7337. Please request accommodations as soon as possible as some services take several weeks to arrange.

Photography and videography

Out of consideration for others, please keep the front of the chapel, the stage and pathways clear during the service and ceremony.