The Rev. Dr. Robert L. Conrad, Christ Seminary-Seminex Professor Emeritus of Educational Ministry at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, died at his home in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. In addition to serving as professor of educational ministry, Dr. Conrad was director of the doctor of ministry and extension education programs at LSTC from 1983 until his retirement in 1998. He is survived by his wife, Mary Anne, their three children, Joy, Karin, and Christopher, and four grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on March 9 at 1:30 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Iowa City, Iowa.
“We were deeply saddened to learn of Dr. Conrad’s death, even as we trust the resurrection promise that sustains us all during this time,” said Dr. James Nieman, president of LSTC. “Others at our school worked with him quite closely, but I knew him chiefly through his scholarly legacy. Robert Conrad’s contributions to the field of Christian education were vast and wise, and so we are grateful to God for giving us such a fine teacher to know and cherish in our journey together.”
Grounded in family, vocation
Robert Conrad was born and raised in Kansas. When he was 12 years old, he learned from his mother that, because he nearly died shortly after he was born, she had promised God that if he lived she would do everything possible to see that he served God as a pastor. It took Conrad half a dozen more years and “some prompting by the spirit” before he affirmed that call.
Conrad graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., in 1956, was ordained in September of that year and served as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Townsend, Wash., for the next five years. He returned to Concordia Seminary in 1961 to serve as assistant professor of Christian education. He was completing work on his doctorate at Princeton Theological Seminary when Christ Seminary-Seminex was formed in 1974.
As a member of the Christ Seminary-Seminex faculty, Conrad chaired the Department of Practical Theology. He directed the Doctor of Ministry Program and was a member of both the Graduate Council and the Academic Council for Seminex. At LSTC, he emphasized the need for pastors to take seriously their own need for continuing education, the education of members of their congregations, and the development of a deeper commitment to the Christian faith. He derived great satisfaction from guiding pastors through the doctor of ministry program.
“Bob was one of the key influences in my own understanding of the role of pastor as educator in a congregation,” said the Rev. Gregory Kaufmann, a member of LSTC’s Board of Directors and assistant to the bishop and director of the lay school of theology in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin.
Bob Conrad practiced his commitment to social justice by participating in the March on Selma with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and in the St. Louis march following Dr. King’s death. He was active on the Greater St. Louis Committee on Freedom of Residence.
Conrad was a longtime leader in the Boy Scouts at the local and national levels. He loved to sing and was a member of parish choirs. He was also the lead singer and composer of humorous songs for a barbershop quartet, The Uncalled Four, which performed at faculty banquets, retirement parties and other gatherings. In recent years, he was a regular volunteer at The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
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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.