Dr. James Kenneth Echols, president of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, has been named the 2003 distinguished alumnus by Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. A 1977 graduate of the Philadelphia seminary, Echols was ordained by the former Lutheran Church in America in 1979. Committed to the urban context as an excellent training ground for ministry, he has served congregations in Philadelphia and Hempstead, N.Y.
Joining the faculty of his alma mater in 1982 as assistant professor of American church history, he went on to be named its dean in 1991. He left Philadelphia in 1997 to become president of the Lutheran School of Theology.
Distinguished as an educator, theologian and pastor, Echols was awarded the prestigious Wittenberg Award from The Luther Institute, Washington, D.C., in 2000. Honorary doctorates were bestowed previously by Carthage College (1999), Kenosha, Wis., Wagner College (1997), Staten Island, N.Y., and Muhlenberg College (1996), Allentowa, Pa.
Currently, Echols is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) urban team and an ELCA delegate to the National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A. He serves on the steering committee of the U.S.A. section of Conference of International Black Lutherans and on the executive committee of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada.
A published author, Echols has written in the areas of American church history, theology and African-American Lutheranism. Globally, he has participated in Lutheran and ecumenical conferences in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
A native of Philadelphia, Echols earned the master of arts, master of philosophy and doctor of philosophy degrees at Yale University.
Alumni/ae and friends of the Philadelphia seminary are invited to celebrate Echols ministry and his numerous contributions to the seminary and church at its annual spring convocation banquet, Tuesday, April 29. For more information, please contact Chris Duckworth, director of alumni/ae relations at (215) 248-7301, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.