Wartburg Theological Seminary 2017 Commencement Honors Graduates and Servant Leaders

Wartburg Theological Seminary (WTS) will honor forty-four degree and certificate candidates at commencement exercises on Sunday, May 14, at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 2001 Saint Joseph St, Dubuque, Iowa.

“We celebrate the gifts for ministry and the academic achievements of the Wartburg Theological Seminary class of 2017. In this year of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we can have confidence that these graduates, now to serve as leaders in ministry and mission, will be agents for the renewal and revitalization of the church as we enter the next era of serving Jesus Christ for the life of the world”, says Dr. Craig Nessan, Academic Dean.

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.

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 to both Linda Hartke, CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Sister Corine Murray, a life-long member of the Sisters of Presentation (Blessed Virgin Mary) in Dubuque.

Linda Hartke exemplifies the Loehe tradition through her dedication to serving immigrants and refugees. Before serving as President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service she was Director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (Geneva, Switzerland), and has served on boards and advisory councils for the World AIDS campaign, the Rose Marie Khoo Foundation, and Amnesty International USA, plus served seven years in Washington, D.C., as chief of staff to Representative Chet Aitkins (D-MA), and out of the country as a director to Cambodia for Church World Service. An active Lutheran, Hartke resides in Baltimore, Maryland and has served on ELCA national and regional boards, and with the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.

Hartke will lead a conversation about the ongoing work to become just and welcoming communities for migrants, immigrants and refugees Monday, May 15th at 9am in Weiblen Commons on the campus of Wartburg Theological Seminary. This is a free event. Please RSVP to drosenstiel@wartburgseminary.edu.

Sister Corine Murray exemplifies the Loehe tradition through her continued dedication to service. Sr. Corine most recently served as the executive director of a Presentation Sisters sponsored ministry, the “Presentation Lantern,” from 2001 to 2016. The Presentation Lantern offers hospitality, educational opportunities, and advocacy to adult immigrants, especially women. A graduate of Clark University here in Dubuque, and St. John University in Minnesota, Sr. Corine has also taught at junior high and high schools in Mason City, Storm Lake, Algona, and Waterloo (Iowa), as well as provided pastoral ministry to parishes in Terra Haute, Indiana, Iowa City, Iowa, and a cluster of five rural parishes west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity will be presented to both The Rev. Dr. Maxwell E. Johnson, Professor of Theology (Liturgical Studies) in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame, and The Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Wengert, who is the Ministerium of Pennsylvania Emeritus Professor of Church History at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

The Rev. Dr. Maxwell E. Johnson is a 1978 graduate of Wartburg Theological Seminary, with an undergraduate degree from Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD), a Master of Arts degree from St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN), and a PhD degree from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Johnson is currently a Professor of Theology (Liturgical Studies) in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame, where he specializes in early Christian worship and the development of the Rites of Baptism and Confirmation and the feasts, fasts, and seasons of the Liturgical Year. He has served several parishes in Minnesota and previously taught at St. John’s University and the nearby College of St. Benedict. He has authored, co-authored, and edited over 20 books and publishing over 70 articles and book chapters. He is currently licensed in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, where he frequently presides and preaches.

A parish pastor for seven years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Wengert, who was chosen by the Class of 2017 to deliver the commencement address, received his doctorate from Duke University in 1984 and taught on Philadelphia’s faculty from 1989-2013. He has written extensively on the Reformation, was co-editor of the English edition of The Book of Concord and translated Luther’s Small Catechism, which is widely used throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In addition to several books on Philip Melanchthon, he published a study of early Lutheran disputes over justification, is general editor of The Dictionary of Lutheran and the Lutheran Traditions, co-authored (with Susan Wood) a book on Lutheran/Roman Catholic relations, Shared Spiritual Journey, and edited the first volume of The Annotated Luther, from which his translation of the 95 Theses has also appeared separately.

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 163rd academic year.