Chicago (LSTC) - The Rev. Dr. Connie M. Kleingartner, director of field education and coordinator of candidacy and Logos Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Ministries at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago died early August 21 in hospice care in Chicago. She was 60.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, August 24, at 4:30 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn, Chicago.
"Connie's gifts as teacher, mentor, advocate, and friend enriched the LSTC community and the church beyond measure," said Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Kadi Billman. "She has helped shape literally thousands of students for ministry. But it is the gift of her witness to God's faithfulness in all circumstances that we will remember most as we grieve the loss of this dear colleague. To the last, Connie was grateful for the prayers and companionship of the LSTC community, and I am utterly certain that she would want her last words to the community to be ‘Thank you.'"
Connie Kleingartner joined the LSTC faculty in 1995 after spending 20 years in parish ministry in Minnesota and Iowa and as coordinator of congregational life for the Iowa District of the American Lutheran Church. She received the bachelor of science degree from Minot State University, master of divinity and master of sacred theology degrees from Wartburg Theological Seminary, and a doctor of educational leadership degree from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.
Kleingartner had a passion for helping prepare leaders for the church who love the Lord, love God's people, and love the church. Students will remember her advice to "trust the process." She loved doing site visits for seminary interns both to see how the student was doing and to thank the congregation for its role in shaping leaders for the church.
During the 2007-08 academic year, in between cancer treatments, Kleingartner developed a series of successful stewardship workshops and created a plan for revitalizing the work of LSTC's Tithing and Stewardship Foundation.
During the 18-months of living with and being treated for breast cancer, Dr. Kleingartner provided a witness of faith and courage to all who knew her. In April, she told the LSTC community that the cancer had spread throughout her body. At her request, the community gathered around her for a service of commendation of the dying at the end of the 2007-08 school year.
Connie is survived by her parents, Herbert and Marie Kleingartner; three sisters, Trudy Evenstad, Shelly Hanenburg, and Becky Horner; a niece and nephews. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Augustana Lutheran Church (Chicago) Organ Fund; the LSTC Fund for Field Education, Christ Lutheran Church, Minot, N.D.; or UNICEF.
The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.