Luther Seminary

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Luther Seminary
Luther Seminary Logo, color on white.jpg
Type Seminary
Established 1869
Affiliation Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Endowment $90.3 million[1]
President Rev. Dr. Robin Steinke
Academic staff
Students 526[3]
Location St. Paul, Minnesota

Luther Seminary is the largest seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the largest American Lutheran seminary. Located in the Saint Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota, its mission is to prepare students for service in rostered ministry and leadership positions within the ELCA and its ecumenical partners. Notably, it also accepts and educates students of 41 other denominations and traditions (non-ELCA).[4] It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (formally known as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) and the Association of Theological Schools. It also has theological accreditation through the ELCA as well as the United Methodist Church.[5]

United Church Seminary
Bockman Hall.jpg
Luther Seminary is located in Minnesota
Luther Seminary
Luther Seminary is located in the US
Luther Seminary
Location 2481 Como Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Coordinates 44°59′5″N 93°11′47″W / 44.98472°N 93.19639°W / 44.98472; -93.19639Coordinates: 44°59′5″N 93°11′47″W / 44.98472°N 93.19639°W / 44.98472; -93.19639
Built 1900
Architect Didrik A. Omeyer; Martin P. Thori
NRHP Reference # 85003437[6]
Added to NRHP October 31, 1985

Luther Seminary history[edit]

Luther Seminary, through a series of mergers, consolidated into one seminary what at one time were six separate institutions.

Luther Theological Seminary[edit]

Luther Theological Seminary (ALC) was initially formed through the merger of three institutions in 1917 in conjunction with the merger of three Norwegian Lutheran Churches to create what was later named the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The ELC became part of the ALC in 1960.

Each of the three churches operated a seminary: the Norwegian Synod operated Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota; the Hauge Synod operated the Red Wing Seminary in Red Wing, Minnesota; and the United Norwegian Lutheran Church operated the United Church Seminary in Saint Paul. The merged seminaries occupied the site of the United Church Seminary, and retained the name of the oldest of the three schools, namely, Luther Theological Seminary, which had been founded in 1876.

Merger with Augsburg Theological Seminary[edit]

Augsburg Theological Seminary, another constituent seminary, was founded in 1869 at Marshall, Wisconsin, later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and ultimately was the seminary of the Lutheran Free Church. It remained a separate seminary until 1963 when the Lutheran Free Church merged with the American Lutheran Church and Augsburg Seminary was united with Luther Seminary in Saint Paul. When Luther Theological Seminary was united with Augsburg Seminary in 1963, Luther, through the process of merger, assumed the earlier founding date of 1869.

Merger with Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary[edit]

Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary (LCA) traces its origin to the Chicago Lutheran Divinity School, begun in Chicago, Illinois in 1920 following action taken by the English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest, a synod of the United Lutheran Church in America. In 1921, the seminary was moved to Fargo, North Dakota, and the following year to Minneapolis. From 1921 to 1982, its name was Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary. Located in north Minneapolis from 1922 to 1940 and in south Minneapolis from 1940 to 1967, it moved near the campus of Luther Theological Seminary in Saint Paul in 1967. At the time of the formation of the Lutheran Church in America in 1962, Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary was placed under the jurisdiction of two supporting synods: the Minnesota Synod and the Red River Valley Synod.

Presidents of NLTS

  • Joseph Stump 1920–1935
  • Paul Roth 1935–1950
  • Jonas Dressler 1950–1957
  • Clemens Zeidler 1957–1976
  • Lloyd Svendsbye 1976–1982

Merger with Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary[edit]

Desiring to make witness to a shared mission in theological education, Luther and Northwestern Seminaries functionally unified in 1976, beginning with a single administration. After a period of six years, the two seminaries established a single seminary on July 1, 1982, known as Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary.

As of January 1, 1988, Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary became affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) formed by a merger of three national bodies, The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America. The name Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary was changed to Luther Seminary on July 1, 1994.


As of the 2010-2011 academic year, Luther serves 796 total students (54% male, 46% female), employing 45 full-time faculty along with 20 adjunct faculty. Luther Seminary offers a Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.), for students seeking ordination, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) and Doctor of Philosophy degrees for other students. In the fall of 2013, Luther Seminary suspended new admissions to the Ph.D program for three years as part of budget cuts.[7] The Seminary is now planning to start admissions for the Ph.D program starting in Fall semester of 2017.[8]

As in most seminaries, M.Div. students complete three years of theological education, divided into a junior year (first), middler year (second) and senior year (final). A full year of internship, usually in a parish, is an integral part of pastoral training, and a degree requirement for ELCA M.Div. students. While individual situations may vary, internship typically begins after two-thirds of coursework has been completed. Thus, most students complete internship between their middler and senior year. The internship requirement is unique to the ELCA among the other Mainline denominations in the U.S.

Frederick Buechner[edit]

Luther Seminary teaches works by novelist and Reverend Frederick Buechner. In 2014, Luther Seminary created the Lutheran Buechner Prize for Preaching.

Presidents of LTS[edit]

  • Marcus Olaus Bøckmann 1892–1917 (United Church)
  • Marcus Olaus Bøckmann 1917–1930
  • T. F. Gullixson 1930–1954
  • Alvin Rogness 1954–1974
  • Lloyd Svendsbye 1974–1982

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Presidents of Luther Seminary[edit]

  • Lloyd Svendsbye 1982–1987
  • Gib Fjellman (interim) 1987
  • David L. Tiede 1987–2005
  • Richard Bliese 2005–2012
  • Richard Foss (interim) 2012-2014
  • Robin Steinke 2014-

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2015. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2014 to FY 2015" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. 2016. 
  2. ^ "Fast Facts". Luther Theological Seminary website. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  3. ^ "Fast Facts". Luther Theological Seminary website. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "Fast Facts". Luther Theological Seminary website. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  5. ^ "Accreditation". Luther Theological Seminary website. Luther theological Seminary. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  6. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Ph.D Program". Luther Theological Seminary. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 

External links[edit]