To celebrate his 100th birthday in 2010, Pastor William Berg did one of the things he loves to do most – he talked about Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a sermon preached on his favorite church holiday, Pentecost. Pastor Berg is one of LSTC’s oldest alumni, having graduated from one of its predecessor schools, Augustana Theological Seminary, in 1937. He is also one of six Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago 2011 Distinguished Alumni who will be honored at an awards ceremony and banquet on April 4 at the school.
The awards ceremony and banquet are part of LSTC’s 2011 Leadership Conference, “Experiencing God through Preaching and Worship.” For more information about the conference, to register or to order a ticket to the banquet, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.lstc.edu/events/conferences/leadership-conference/.
The ministries of the six award recipients witness to the depth and breadth of leadership provided by LSTC graduates. They include a bishop’s associate; a chaplain to people with developmental disabilities; a young parish pastor; a leader in ecumenical and community cooperation; and a choral director and composer.
The Rev. Mark A. Anderson, assistant to the bishop, Northeastern Iowa Synod, will receive the Called to Lead Award. His work with Barnabas Uplift, an interfaith social ministry network which seeks to eliminate poverty in Iowa, his faithful response to recent human and natural disasters in Iowa, and his commitment to youth ministry in the synod, were cited as three major areas where Pastor Anderson has provided exemplary leadership. Pastor Anderson received a master of divinity degree in 1989. He served parishes in Iowa and Minnesota before joining the synod staff where he is part of its workgroups on Care of Creation, Global Mission, Home Life, Hunger, Ministry on Aging and Rural Life.
The Rev. William Berg, a 1937 graduate of Augustana Theological Seminary, will receive the Faithful Servant Award. After serving as a parish pastor, Pastor Berg took a position with the central office of the Augustana Synod in 1951. He relocated to New York when the synod became part of the Lutheran Church in America. Pastor Berg returned to parish ministry at Augustana Church in 1965. After he retired, he and his wife, Marta, traveled the world for 14 years on behalf of Lutheran missions. Pastor Berg is writing his eighth book.
The Rev. John Gosswein, who graduated from Christ Seminary-Seminex in 1976, is pastor of Family Church of Christ, Kearney, Neb., and chaplain at Mosaic at Bethphage Village, Axtell, Neb. He will receive the Witness to the World Award for his work with Mosaic. In ministering to people with developmental disabilities, Pastor Gosswein “has developed a unique worship, called a Kingdom Party, that relays a solid gospel message in a festive, celebratory and fun format,” notes the nomination. He also provides religious training to staff members and invites people to get involved in their own faith. “He has led people with no faith background to belief, and has led believers to a deeper understanding of God’s love. . . (his ministry) inspires, enlightens and delights our residents and staff members with the love of God.”
The Rev. Tony Metz, a 2007 master of divinity graduate, will receive the Emerging Voice Award. Pastor Metz is serving Immanuel Lutheran Church, George, Iowa, and Hope Lutheran Church, Sioux Center, Iowa. He is commended for bringing together two congregations that had entered into a shared ministry agreement just months before calling him. At a congregational meal, the nominator “saw the relational skills of the pastor at their very best. . .(he) called everyone by name, was intent to listen to his people’s life stories. . .This is the gist of rural ministry at its very best, relational to the core, grace filled and powerfully modeling a shepherd’s love for the flock.”
The Rev. Vernon A. Victorson, pastor of the oldest congregation in the ELCA, First Lutheran Church, Albany, N.Y., will receive the Excellence in Parish Ministry Award. Since 1971, Pastor Victorson has served four parishes in New York and is known for his excellence in preaching and pastoral care. He ministers within his congregations’ contexts. He helped start a homeless shelter at one of his congregations and engages in strong ecumenical work to develop cooperative ministries. Pastor Victorson has served as Conference Dean in two different locations and on the Synod’s Council and Candidacy Committees. He earned a master of divinity degree in 1971.
The Rev. Dr. Paul Weber, director of the sacred music program at Lenoir-Rhyne University and of its A Capella Choir, will receive the Special Ministry Award. A member of the first graduating class of Christ Seminary-Seminex, Dr. Weber has contributed to both the ELCA’s Evangelical Lutheran Worship and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Lutheran Service Book. His leadership at Lenoir-Rhyne University has led to national attention for both the sacred music program and A Capella Choir. Dr. Weber earned masters degrees from Yale University, (in composition), and Washington University (in organ performance and composition). He earned the doctor of musical arts in choral conducting from the University of Iowa.
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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.