Wartburg Theological Seminary 2016 Commencement Honors Graduates and Servant Leaders

Wartburg Theological Seminary (WTS) will honor thirty-eight degree and certificate candidates at commencement exercises on Sunday, May 15, at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 2001 Saint Joseph St, Dubuque, Iowa.

Dr. Craig Nessan, Academic Dean said of the students being honored, “The theological and spiritual formation process of Wartburg Theological Seminary culminates with commencement as a moment to celebrate the very purpose of the school: the sending of graduates to serve as church leaders in God’s mission across the synods of the ELCA and in diverse global contexts. As the chancel window of Loehe Chapel portrays, the resurrected Jesus Christ sends his followers to share the good news and serve as body of Christ to the ends of the earth. We pray God’s blessing on these gifted graduates as they take up ministry according to God’s call and in service to Christ’s church.”

Graduates of Wartburg Theological Seminary will serve the church and world providing leadership to congregations and other ministry settings as pastors, teachers, youth leaders, diaconal ministers, chaplains, associates in ministry, and a variety of other positions.

Rev. Dr. April Ulring Larson was chosen by the Class of 2016 to deliver the commencement address. In 1992 she was elected bishop of the La Crosse Area synod, becoming the first woman bishop in the ELCA

and the second Lutheran woman bishop in the world. A native of Decorah, Iowa, Larson attended Luther College, the University of Iowa and Wartburg Theological Seminary. She served congregations in Iowa, served as Assistant to the Bishop in Southeastern Minnesota Synod, and after completing three terms as Bishop, served a congregation in Minnesota before retiring in 2014. She is known across the global church as preacher, bible study leader, ecumenical leader, leader in accompaniment with global companion synods, choral director, and song leader.

The Living Loehe Award, which was established by Wartburg Seminary in 1973 as a way of honoring individuals who have given distinguished service to and through the church and exemplify Christ’s call to be disciples in the context of their own daily lives and professional commitments, will be given at commencement this year to the Rev. Burton Everist. Rev. Everist exemplifies the Loehe tradition through his service in the parish, community, and synods of which he has been and continues to be a part. He writes, “This recognition, coming in the 50th year after my ordination, is both humbling and encouraging. It encourages me to continue and deepen the service I am privileged to render by God’s grace.” Throughout his ministry, Rev. Everist has served and still serves on committees and councils for Civil Rights, community groups, and ecumenical coalitions. His ministry foci include inner city, youth, media, and religious education. He earned a BA from Concordia College, and MDiv and STM from Concordia Seminary. He has decades of teaching experience at colleges, universities, divinity schools and seminaries.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor or Divinity will be presented to the Rev. Dr. Karen L. Bloomquist. Bloomquist was raised in Wausau, WI, and has degrees from St. Olaf College, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D, from Union Theological Seminary in NYC. She was the fourth woman ordained in the American Lutheran Church (1974), and has served as a pastor of congregations in Oakland, CA, Brooklyn, NY, and Custer, WA. She has taught on the faculties of Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), Wartburg Theological Seminary, and as visiting professor elsewhere in the US and Canada. When the ELCA began, she left her position at LSTC in order to serve as Director for Studies, where she staffed the development of the first eight ELCA social statements. In 1999 she and her family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where for 11 years she was Director for Theology and Studies of the Lutheran World Federation. Since moving back to the US in 2010, she has spoken and taught in several venues, and served as the Dean at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

The public is invited to attend the Wartburg Theological Seminary commencement exercises which will begin at 3:00 pm at St. Joseph the Worker Church, Dubuque, Iowa.

Wartburg Theological Seminary is one of eight theological schools of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Wartburg is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and educates women and men to serve the church’s mission as ordained and lay leaders. Established in Dubuque, Iowa in 1854, Wartburg Seminary is in its 162nd academic year.