Four to receive distinguished alumni awards

Four LSTC graduates will be honored when alumni return to campus Oct. 11-12 for Homecoming/Alumni Week. They are:

Jason Chesnut (2010, MDiv) will receive the 2022 Witness to the World award, given to a clergy or lay person engaged in the work of public church in any setting. Chesnut is a pastor of Anam Cara, a new digital-first mission start of the ELCA. He is founder of Ankos Films, Slate Project, is a biblical storyteller, and has served as digital liturgist at high profile conference worship events. Former Bishop Phil Ruge-Jones nominated him and wrote this: “Jason has forged a path into digital ministry that is public, politically aware, and centered on the biblical narrative. His work with Slate Project has been amazing, gathering people around the world to reflect on Jesus and his commitment to justice for all. Jason has established a lively social media presence, but often uses his platform to lift up the voices of others, especially BIPOC people.”

Francisco Javier Goitía Padilla (2014, PhD) will receive the Called to Lead award, given to someone who has visibly answered the call to prophetic leadership in the wider church. Padilla is director for theological formation, seminaries and schools at the ELCA. He served as pastor to congregations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. and is a former youth leader in the Caribbean Synod. Bishop Idalia Negrón Caamano nominated him, praising his relationship with all ELCA seminaries and other seminaries in support of the call process, and as an advocate for seminary education in Spanish. In congregations he served he introduced the Lectio Divina method of Bible study, which is still in use in those congregations. “He is a creative writer, comparing the stories that are told in ‘salsa’ music to biblical stories,” Caamano said.

Louise Britts (2002, MDiv) will receive the Excellence in Parish Ministry award, given for preaching, teaching, pastoral care, evangelism or stewardship with at least a decade in ministry experience. Britts is a pastor, hospice chaplain, skilled community organizer, mentor, gifted preacher, Bible teacher and administrator. Tom Gustafson, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minn., said she helped take the congregation’s ministry “out the door and into our richly diverse neighborhood and mentored countless youth and adults.” Although Britts “retired” from Messiah in 2020 to concentrate on hospice chaplaincy, as “pastor emerita” she continues to preach, lead and even serves as the congregation’s bookkeeper.

Herbert Anderson (1963, MDiv; Augustana Theological Seminary) will receive the Lifetime Service award, given to an alumnus/a who exemplifies servant leadership throughout their lifetime. Anderson has served as parish pastor, hospital chaplain, author, retired professor and Lutheran pastoral theologian. Kathleen “Kadi” Billman, who nominated him, said Anderson has brought honor to the ELCA and LSTC: “His love of congregational ministry, first forged as a Lutheran congregant and then parish pastor, infuses the over 100 articles and 13 books he has written.” Anderson taught at Princeton Seminary, Wartburg Theological Seminary and retired in 2000 from Catholic Theological Union after an illustrious 15 years as professor of pastoral theology. He has continued to write and teach. “He is arguably the most widely known Lutheran pastoral theologian,” Billman said.

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