Commencement at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

Commencement

Concordia Seminary’s Commencement exercises for the 2021 graduating class will take place Friday, May 21, 2021.

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 be in person for graduating students. Family and friends are encouraged to watch via live stream at csl.edu/live or on our YouTube channel, youtube.com/c/ConcordiaSeminary.

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. Dr. Daniel Preus, special assistant to the president at Concordia Seminary, will deliver the sermon. In the evening, certificates, academic degrees and honors will be conferred. Dr. John Wohlrabe Jr., second vice president of the LCMS and a Commencement honoree, will give the Commencement address.

Join in the celebration virtually by sharing comments and photos and using #CSLGrad2021 and #JesusChristForever on social media.

Schedule of Commencement events

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

Commencement honorees

Five 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.

Chris Shearman has dedicated much of his life’s work to the people and communities of St. Louis, Mo. He has been involved in community development through real-estate investment, entrepreneurship and organizational volunteerism. After two years in downtown loft development, he and his wife, Dana, opened Gelateria Del Leone, a community-focused café. They soon moved this business to South Grand Boulevard where Shearman became active in the leadership of several local organizations, including Messiah Lutheran Church and the South Grand Community Improvement District, among others. Shearman and his family have enjoyed sharing their faith through a highly localized life; living, worshiping, working and serving all in the same neighborhood.

Shearman is the executive director of Lutheran Development Group (LDG) in St. Louis, which he founded in 2013. LDG grew out of his involvement at Messiah Lutheran Church while he served as congregation president. He sought to help refugee families who had joined Messiah but could not find adequate housing. Through his efforts, Messiah developed East Fox Homes, a 47-unit low-income housing tax credit development with a community center in the neighborhood around the church. The success of this project led to a grant from Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis for the founding of LDG.

LDG is a Recognized Service Organization of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). The organization partners with LCMS congregations in St. Louis’ south side to work for comprehensive community development and revitalization in neighborhoods surrounding those congregations. Shearman oversees the direction and operations of LDG, ensuring that the organization takes full advantage of local resources to meet the needs of the communities it serves. These tools vary from coordinating with local residents and volunteers to leveraging tax credits to finance significant real-estate investments in the area. These efforts have led to more than $35 million in investment in St. Louis since 2015.

Under his leadership and in collaboration with urban Lutheran congregations, LDG has developed:

  • Affordable multifamily housing in the Tower Grove East and Fox Park neighborhoods, including 12 buildings and 47 apartments, and the Chippewa Park Development in Dutchtown, including 16 buildings, 46 apartments and three commercial spaces.
  • LDG sponsored a community-led neighborhood plan for the Benton Park West, Gravois Park and Dutchtown neighborhoods that has been adopted by the City of St. Louis Planning Department as the official city plan for those communities.
  • Renovation of affordable single-family homes in south St. Louis focused on first-time home buyers in Benton Park, Gravois Park and Dutchtown neighborhoods.
  • The Messiah Community Center as an outreach ministry of Messiah Lutheran Church.
  • The Intersect Arts Center as an outreach ministry of Holy Cross Lutheran Church.
  • The renovation of the Holy Cross school building for use by EAGLE College Prep, a free charter school for the community.
  • The Blight to Bright program, which provides summer jobs to neighborhood youth who work on clearing blighted lots in south St. Louis, learning job skills in the process.
  • On-site construction mentorship as an extension of Blight to Bright.

Shearman regularly presents to Concordia Seminary’s students in the PRA516 “Introduction to Pastoral Leadership” course and leads tours for seminarians so they can see the work that LDG has done.

He has used his expertise in collaboration, business, government and entrepreneurship in service to the Great Commission. He cherishes his Lutheran faith and he values Lutheran congregations, seeking to help them engage their surrounding communities. He embodies the life of Christ in the world, Christus vivit.

Shearman and Dana live in south St. Louis in a home they renovated in 2004. They have daughters: Nora, Audra and Emma.

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.

“God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack supply.” Throughout his career, Rev. Dr. Robert Rahn has exemplified these words time and time again by spreading the Gospel with doctrinal accuracy in whatever situation God placed him.

Rahn was born in St. Paul, Minn., to Mr. and Mrs. Arthur F. Rahn. He is a graduate of Concordia High School, St. Paul, Minn. (1954), and he received an Associate of Arts from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minn. (1956). Following graduation from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Bachelor of Arts (1961), he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. (2001), and received the Alumni of the Year Award from Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn. (2017).

Throughout his ministry, Rahn embraced challenges, creating new systems when none were in place to share the Lutheran doctrine with those who had not yet heard it.

Rahn has continually demonstrated his commitment to sharing the Good News with people everywhere, serving as a pastor in Montana (1961-75), and as the campus pastor (1981-82), assistant to the president and associate development director (1975-85) for Concordia College – River Forest (now Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill.). He was involved in the development of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Joint Seminary Fund from the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. (1985-88), and directed the work of Lutheran Bible Society in Cleveland, Ohio (1988-92).

When the Iron Curtain came down in the early 1990s, Rahn took up the challenge of spreading the Gospel to people who had had little, if any, opportunity to hear about the saving love of Jesus Christ. Out of the basement of his Michigan home, he founded the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF), an organization dedicated to translating, publishing and distributing confessional Lutheran materials worldwide. Rahn served as the executive director (1992-2015) and, in his retirement, has served with the organization’s church relations endeavors since 2015. Since LHF’s first work in Russia, the mission organization has expanded today to working in more than 120 languages, publishing nearly 1,500 titles including Luther’s Small Catechism, The Book of Concord, A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories and the Spanish Bible with Catechism. As a result of his efforts and organizational skills over the past quarter of a century, LCMS missions and the work of many other churches (Roman Catholic priests in Cambodia use the Khmer translation of Luther’s Small Catechism) have been enhanced because of having the staples of Lutheran theology in their local languages.

Despite many hardships on the road to creating an international mission organization that serves not only the LCMS but also many missionaries and church bodies worldwide, Rahn’s faith in God and His unfailing Word has remained constant. “We soon discover in our lives that people fail us. Things fail us, and finally our health fails us. Jesus never fails us,” he emphasizes. He has written three works with the title Jesus Never Fails, a history of LHF (2012), for which he earned an Award of Commendation from Concordia Historical Institute in 2013 for a book of excellence in the historical field; an autobiography (2012); and an evangelistic booklet (2018) that is designed for distribution to people who are hospitalized, residents of nursing homes and visitors to churches. He also published a history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Sudan/Sudan (2019).

Rahn and his wife, Donna (nee Danner), have one son, Jeffrey. Throughout Rahn’s 60 years of ministry, Donna and Jeffery have lent their faithful support to his endeavors.

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

The Rev. Dr. John C. Wohlrabe Jr. was born Sept. 2, 1953, in Mankato, Minn. His family lived throughout the Midwest region, including Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan and Illinois.

Wohlrabe attended and graduated from St. Paul’s Lutheran High School in Concordia, Mo., in 1971. He then attended Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., studying civil engineering. In 1973, he enlisted in the United States Navy, and after basic training in San Diego, Calif., served on the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) with a homeport in Norfolk, Va. It was during a deployment to the Mediterranean in 1975 that he decided to study for the ministry. Following his discharge from active duty in 1976, Wohlrabe continued his education at Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Mich., receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 1978 with a general science major and religious studies minor.

He then attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, starting in March 1978. He spent his vicarage at Zion Lutheran Church in Anchorage, Alaska (1979-80), where he also met and married his wife, Julie (nee Schulz). He earned his Master of Divinity in 1981 and a Master of Sacred Theology in 1982, both from Concordia Seminary. Throughout this time, he also continued to serve as an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Wohlrabe was ordained May 9, 1982, at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Mankato, Minn. After attending Navy Chaplain School in Newport, R.I., during the summer of 1982, he was installed as pastor of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Fort Lupton, Colo. While living in Colorado, Wohlrabe continued his post-graduate studies at University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology while also serving as a U.S. Navy Reserve chaplain.

In September 1984, Wohlrabe returned to Concordia Seminary, having received the Walther Faculty Development Fellowship. While completing his studies, he also served as a guest instructor at the Seminary, a Navy Reserve chaplain, and from 1986-87, he served as assistant director of the Concordia Historical Institute. He earned a Doctor of Theology degree in 1987, with a major in historical theology and a minor in systematic theology. The title of his dissertation was “An Historical Analysis of the Doctrine of the Ministry in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod until 1962.”

Wohlrabe returned to active service in the U.S. Navy in 1987, serving in California, the United Kingdom, Illinois, Japan, Maine, Virginia and Washington, D.C., before retiring in 2009 with the rank of captain and more than 35 years of active and reserve service.

After his military service, Wohlrabe served as pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church, Geneseo, Ill. (2009-12). In addition, he was elected third vice president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 2007, second vice president in 2010, reelected to that position in 2013, elected fourth vice president in 2016 and again second vice president in 2019. He has received numerous awards from military and ecclesial organizations, and he has written many articles for theological journals, and church and military publications.

Today, he and Julie live in St. Francis, Wis. He serves as assistant pastor at Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church in Whitefish Bay, Wis.; adjunct professor at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon; editor-in-chief for the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly; and president of the Concordia Historical Institute Board of Governors. The couple has three children: Greta, John III and Nathan.

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.

The Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer is president emeritus and professor emeritus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He retired in 2020 after 15 years as Seminary president.

Under his leadership, the Seminary surmounted financial and cultural challenges, eliminated its debt, quadrupled its endowment, improved its educational programs, expanded its prominence in the Lutheran world, strengthened its funding strategies and improved many of its facilities. From his early days as president, Meyer recognized the need to prepare church leaders to serve in the changing 21st century and in a country dramatically different from the Christian America of his youth. It became one of the main goals of his presidency to prepare students for ministry in a post-Christian America where church attendance and a Christian background are no longer a given.

He first joined the faculty at Concordia Seminary as a guest instructor (1979-81). He then served as an assistant professor (1981-84). In 2001, he rejoined the faculty and served as professor of Practical Theology, a role he continued to hold after being elected president. He served as the Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Professor of Homiletics and Literature (2001-05), as interim president (2004-05) and became the 10th president of Concordia Seminary in 2005.

Meyer completed his Bachelor of Arts (1969) at Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne, Ind. After earning a Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary (1973), he earned a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy in classical languages from Washington University in St. Louis (1974, 1986). He also is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. (1993).

Meyer’s first call was as pastor of St. Salvator Lutheran Church in Venedy, Ill., and St. Peter Lutheran Church in New Memphis, Ill. (1974-81). After his tenure as a guest instructor at Concordia Seminary (1979-81), he served as an assistant professor, teaching classes in New Testament and homiletics, and as the director of Resident Field Education (1981-84). He went on to become senior pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Collinsville, Ill. (1984-88).

Meyer was the Lutheran Hour Speaker (1989-2001). Also, he hosted the national television show On Main Street for Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) (1995-2003), which received two prestigious Emmy awards in 2001 from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) St. Louis/Mid-America Chapter for two episodes.

Meyer has served The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the church at-large over the years in several capacities. He served as third vice-president of the LCMS (1995-98). He was a charter board member of the Association of Lutheran Older Adults (ALOA), an honorary director of God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society and a member of the Standing Committee on Pastoral Ministry for the LCMS. He was pastoral adviser for the Southern Illinois District of the International Lutheran Laymen’s League and has served as first vice president, second vice president, secretary and circuit counselor of the LCMS Southern Illinois District. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the American Bible Society (2001-13).

Meyer has written numerous sermons and columns for LHM, including the booklets “Coping with Cancer” and “Real Men.” He co-authored The Crosses of Lent, in-depth Bible studies of Matthew and Prophecy in the LifeLight series and authored “The Place of the Sermon in the Order of Service” in Liturgical Preaching for Concordia Publishing House. He has contributed to Issues in Christian Education and is a regular contributor to Concordia Journal. His articles include “A Church Caught in the Middle,” “An Urban Seminary” and “Why Go to Church?”

In 2014 Meyer wrote Timely Reflections: A Minute a Day with Dale Meyer, a compilation of 365 daily devotions from his long-running online series, The Meyer Minute. This book was published by Tri-Pillar Publishing in conjunction with Concordia Seminary. In 2018, a new volume of his sermons, Word Alive!, was published by Tri-Pillar. The volume includes 52 sermons, spanning decades of his ministry.

Meyer has been speaking and preaching for more than 40 years. His areas of interest and study include 1 Peter, the church in a changing culture and the Sabbath applied to life today.

He lives in Collinsville, Ill., with his wife, Diane. They have two grown daughters: Elizabeth (Darren) Pittman and Catharine (Charles) Bailey, and five grandsons: Christian, Connor and Nicholas Pittman, and Andrew and Jacob Bailey.

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.

Ted Kober has devoted his life’s work to promoting spiritual and relational health in congregations and church organizations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), as well as other denominations. He serves as senior ambassador for Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR) and served as its president from its founding in 2004 until 2015.

Kober graduated from Rocky Mountain College with a Bachelor of Arts in applied management (1996). A Certified Christian Conciliator since 1992, Kober consults and conciliates in cases ranging from personal disputes to lawsuits and church conflicts. Before beginning his work in reconciliation, he owned or managed more than 30 companies, and he resolved 59 legal disputes in a single estate alone. He has served on more than 50 boards of directors, including that of the LCMS.

Not only has Kober provided consultative services to individual congregations and organizations, but he also has published significant works that contribute to the wisdom and well-being of churches, pastors and lay leaders. These publications include numerous articles, training materials and manuals, Bible studies and devotional writings. Some of these works include Confession & Forgiveness (Concordia Publishing House: 2002), Cultivating Lifestyles of Reconciliation (co-authored with Ken Sande; Ambassadors of Reconciliation: 2009), Go and Be Reconciled: What Does This Mean? (Ambassadors of Reconciliation, 2016) and Built on the Rock: The Healthy Congregation (Concordia Publishing House: 2017), which has been used in Concordia Seminary’s PRA506 course.

Kober teaches at church worker conferences, schools, universities and seminaries throughout the world, including Concordia Seminary where he has taught Doctor of Ministry courses and has been a guest presenter for several Master of Divinity courses. He served as an adjunct instructor for Peacemaker Ministries (United States) and PeaceWise (Australia). He has equipped church body leaders from more than 40 countries.

A lifetime member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Billings, Mont., Kober occasionally serves as the congregation’s organist. He and his wife, Sonja, live in Billings. They have one son and two grandchildren.

Service Folders  

Theological Diploma Service (PDF)
Commencement (PDF)

Photo Albums  

Theological Diploma Service
Commencement

Watch  

Archived video of the service is available.

Questions  

Contact our Technology Services Help Desk at 314-505-7231 or helpdesk@csl.edu.

Helpful Tips

General

If you are a registered attendee, plan to arrive early to allow time to park, walk to the event site and find your assigned seat. Out of consideration for our candidates and participants, please turn off cell phones and refrain from conversation during the chapel service and ceremony. All guests must observe face covering and social distancing guidelines.All participants and guests are asked to avoid gathering in large groups either before or after any of the day’s events.

Parking

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.

Seating

Every registered guest will have an assigned seat. Plan to arrive early to make sure you have ample time to find your seat before the service or ceremony begins. Ushers will direct guests to their seats upon arrival. Please do not block aisles or passageways.

Accessibility

Seats for guests with disabilities are available upon request. Requests for disability-related accommodations can be made by contacting us at campusservices@csl.edu 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.