Six named 2012 LSTC Distinguished Alumni February 15, 2012

The 2012 Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago Distinguished Alumni Awards honor six leaders who have shaped and are reshaping ministry in the church. They are the Rev. David M. Carlson, Excellence in Parish Ministry Award; Bishop David L. deFreese, Called to Lead Award; the Rev. Ralph E. Eckard, Faithful Servant Award (posthumously); Bishop Donald P. Kreiss, Witness to the World Award; the Rev. Francisco Javier Goitía Padilla, Specialized Ministry Award; and the Rev. Kyle A. Rouze, Emerging Voice Award. An awards ceremony and reception will be held on Monday, March 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the Augustana Chapel at LSTC, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago. 

“LSTC gives thanks for the visionary leadership of these six distinguished alumni,” said Interim President Philip Hougen. “They embody the type of leaders who are formed at LSTC and are examples of the many faithful ways our alumni serve the church.”

Recipients lead in parishes, wider church

The Rev. Ralph E. Eckard, being honored posthumously with the Faithful Servant Award, graduated in 1950 from the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, Maywood, Ill., a predecessor school of LSTC. He was ordained within weeks of graduation and served congregations in Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. In 1961, he was elected assistant to the Rev. Dr. Howard A. Weeg, president of the Illinois Synod of the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA). As the ULCA and three other Lutheran bodies prepared to merge, he served as secretary of the synod’s Joint Commission on Lutheran Unity and of the Constituting Convention of the Illinois Synod. In October 1962, Eckard was elected assistant to the Rev. Dr. Franklin Clark Fry, president of the new Lutheran Church in America (LCA). He served as the assistant to the president until the LCA merged with two other Lutheran bodies in 1988, forming the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Over the next 18 months, he helped to close out LCA affairs and assist the new bishop of the ELCA and new agency directors in whatever manner requested. Pastor Eckard died on September 15, 2011.

Bishop David L. deFreese, recipient of the Called to Lead Award, received his M.Div. from LSTC in 1982. He served congregations in Omaha, Pierce, Bellevue, and Kearney, Nebraska before being elected bishop of the Nebraska Synod in 2000. His leadership is characterized as incarnational, faithful, effective, and life-giving. The nomination states, “Bishop deFreese seeks to reflect our mission together rather than gather the recognition for himself. [He] leads from the midst of those he seeks to lead. . .he is leading where Jesus would have us all go. . .he always holds fast to what is good in the church.”

The Rev. David M. Carlson is pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minn. His love of his parish, a commitment to the larger church, and a love of learning and teaching make him the recipient of Excellence in Parish Ministry Award. A 2000 Th.M. grad, Pastor Carlson is known among his peers for his insightful and articulate conversations about the Bible and theology. He leads text and book studies for Lutheran and ecumenical pastors’ groups.  He was commended for leading by example, taking his context and community seriously and finding ways to connect Christian faith to daily service in the community. Pastor Carlson has also led groups from the Northeastern Minnesota Synod on trips to visit their companion synod in Russia.

Bishop Donald P. Kreiss (1992, M.Div.; 2007, D.Min.) recipient of the Witness to the World Award, served as an internship supervisor for a number of LSTC students while he was pastor of Antioch Lutheran Church, Farmington Hill, Mich. He is known for his passion for parish ministry. Kreiss has served as cluster dean for the Southeast Michigan Synod and as a member of the Farmington Area Interfaith Association. He was elected bishop of the Southeast Michigan Synod in 2011. Kreiss served on LSTC’s alumni board for a number of years and as a representative from that board to the LSTC Board of Directors.

The Rev. Francisco Javier Goitía Padilla, a 2003 Th.M. graduate and Ph.D. candidate at LSTC who will graduate this year, is a full-time professor of history and homiletics at Puerto Rico Evangelical Seminary in Puerto Rico and part-time pastor to Del Buen Pastor Evangelical Lutheran Church. He is being honored with a Specialized Ministry Award for the many ways he serves the church, including coordinating the formation and education of pastors through the Pastors School for the Caribbean Synod, serving on the synod council and the synod’s candidacy committee, and representing the faculty on the Puerto Rico Evangelical Seminary board. Goitía Padilla has also served as the Coordinator for Youth Ministry in the Caribbean Synod, as a full-time pastor, and is the honorary director of the synod’s Lutheran Center for Theological Formation.

Pastor Kyle Rouze, a 2007 M.Div. graduate, will receive the Emerging Voice Award. In  a few short years of ministry in the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, he has shown “an amazing heart for community outreach and faith-connection to youth, young adults, and adults of all ages,” states the nominating letter. Rouze is bringing Word and worship to people in the midst of their daily lives. He initiated flash-mob Bible studies at restaurants and pubs in the Fort Worth area, “attracting many young adults into conversation around the meaning and place of Christ in their lives.” On Ash Wednesday 2011, he and members of his congregation went to an area rail station to mark the foreheads of commuters with the sign of the cross. Rouze also serves on the board of Briarwood Lutheran Ministries, the camp and retreat ministry of the synod.

LSTC’s Annual Alumni Awards

Each year, LSTC’s Alumni Board invites nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Awards and chooses the most outstanding candidates to receive awards in several categories. Nominating information is on LSTC’s website at


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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.

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