Michigan Lutheran Seminary

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Michigan Lutheran Seminary
MLS Logo 2012.jpg
Seminary Seal.jpg
Photo of main entrance of Michigan Lutheran Seminary
Main entrance
2777 Hardin Street

, ,

United States
Coordinates43°25′43″N 83°58′41″W / 43.42861°N 83.97806°W / 43.42861; -83.97806Coordinates: 43°25′43″N 83°58′41″W / 43.42861°N 83.97806°W / 43.42861; -83.97806
TypePrivate Ministerial Education Preparatory High School
Religious affiliation(s)Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
Established1885 (1885)
School districtSaginaw Intermediate School District
CEEB code233284
NCES School ID00643303[1]
PresidentReverend Mark Luetzow
DeanReverend David E. Koehler
Head teacherReverend David Koehler
Teaching staff27.4 (2015-16)[1]
Grades9 to 12
Number of students201 (2015-16[1])
Student to teacher ratio7.3 (2015-16)[1]
Color(s)     Red
Athletics conferenceTri-Valley Conference West
SportsCo-educational: Basketball, Cross-Country, Track & Field
Men: Baseball, Football, Wrestling
Women: Poms, Softball, Volleyball
Co-educational Intramurals: Basketball, Bowling, Soccer, Volleyball
NewspaperThe Red 'n' White
YearbookThe Cardinal
School HymnGod's Word Is Our Great Heritage

Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS) is a private preparatory boarding high school affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod located in Saginaw, Michigan. The student body consists of commuting students living in the area as well as a large population of students from around the United States and other countries that live on campus in the dormitory led by the dean.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary's enrollment (as of 2015-16) is 201 students in the 9th through 12th grades,[2] from 17 states, 9 of the 12 districts of the WELS, and 3 countries.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary, along with its sister prep school Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wisconsin, has as its purpose "the training of students for public ministry of the gospel and to enroll them upon graduation at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota (MLC)."[3]

True to this goal, the high school recommends all graduating students send their ACT scores to MLC, regardless of the individual student's intent on actually attending MLC. In addition to this, intent to enter MLC is one criterion for financial assistance.


The old German Lutheran Seminary Main with students and faculty

Michigan Lutheran Seminary was founded on August 16, 1885, when one teacher and six students assembled in Manchester, Michigan. German Lutherans in Michigan felt a need to train pastors to serve a growing number of immigrant congregations. In 1887, the Reverend Christoph Eberhardt of Saint Paul congregation in Saginaw donated two nearby acres of land on Court Street. This led the Michigan Lutheran Synod to move MLS to its present location and to dedicate Old Main, the school's first building, later that year.

When the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota Synods federated in 1892, the new confederation decided to convert MLS into a preparatory school. Disagreement over this change split the Michigan Synod. MLS continued as a pastor-training seminary until dwindling enrollments forced it to close its doors in 1907.

By 1910, the Michigan Synod had re-established its ties with Wisconsin and Minnesota. The confederation called the Reverend Otto J. R. Hoenecke to open MLS as a preparatory school. Five students enrolled on September 13, 1910. In 1913, the school added a dormitory to house fifty students. By the end of the 1920s, four teachers served an enrollment of seventy-five. The MLS Club, a forerunner of today's Booster Club and MLS Guild, appeared. The campus added two professors’ homes in 1920 and 1924 and a dining hall in 1925.

Growth slowed during the 1930s but picked up after World War II. Pastor Conrad Frey succeeded Director Hoenecke in 1950. To accommodate the growing student body, MLS built a combination classroom building/gymnasium next to Old Main. The dining area was expanded twice, in 1948 and 1954. In 1963, Old Main was finally torn down and a science/music wing with a student union was added.

In 1966, the Reverend Martin Toepel succeeded President C. Frey. Ten years later, a dormitory structure made it possible for all students to live on campus. Previously, some girls lived in off-campus dormitories and some upperclass boys and girls lived in nearby private homes.

In 1978, the Reverend John Lawrenz succeeded President Toepel. Two years later, MLS added an expanded cafeteria on the lower level of the dormitory. In 1985, the three existing campus buildings were melded into a single unit. New construction provided a gymnasium large enough for girls' and boys' athletics, a student commons off the main entrance, additional office space, a computer classroom, expanded parking, and a new maintenance building. On a new section of property a mile and a quarter from its main campus, MLS developed a baseball diamond, a 400-meter oval track, and athletic practice space.

In 1994, the Reverend Paul Prange succeeded President Lawrenz. During President Prange's tenure at MLS, the campus population reached its largest enrollment in the school's history, just over 380 students.

In recent years, MLS has continued to upgrade its facilities by reconfiguring all dormitory study space, refurbishing most of its dormitory rooms, equipping its library, classrooms, and offices with infrastructure to allow ready access to developing technologies, and installing into its chapel a 22-rank pipe organ. A new two-story science wing, new music rooms, and a renovated commons and dining hall were dedicated to the glory of God in 2003.

In 2009, President Prange became the administrator for the synod's Board for Ministerial Education (which runs all four of the WELS ministerial education schools); he was succeeded for a brief period by the Reverend Aaron Frey. The Reverend Joel Petermann was installed in 2012, following Dr. William Zeiger (in his last of several stints acting as president during his many years of service as Vice President). The Reverend Mark Luetzow succeeded Petermann in 2018. (See List of Presidents)

In connection with the 100th Anniversary of MLS being a preparatory high school for the WELS in 2010, the chapel was remodeled and refurbished with new wooden floors and reupholstering of the chapel seating.

Financial problems[edit]

Financial deficits in 2007 within the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (which runs MLS) prompted the WELS Synodical Council to consider closing Michigan Lutheran Seminary as a preparatory school. At the WELS Synod Convention in the summer of 2007, it was resolved "that the 2007 synod convention reject the recommendation to close Michigan Lutheran Seminary at the end of the 2007-08 school year"[4] The resolution stated its reason being that, "it is not prudent to downsize proven programs in vital areas of our work, like the production of pastors..."[5]


Michigan Lutheran Seminary identifies its curriculum as the following: MLS has a single course of study which equips each student to meet the enrollment requirements of Martin Luther College. The curriculum puts emphasis on the study of Biblical history and theology, and gives special attention to foreign languages(German, Latin, and Spanish) and music(choirs, band, piano, and organ). All students are expected to have at least a 2.50 GPA, if cumulative grade averages do not meet that criterion, counseling and discipline will follow. It exceeds standards set by the State of Michigan for admission to college.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary has been accredited by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod School Accreditation(WELSSA),[6] which is a member of the National Council for Private School Accreditation(NCPSA).

Faculty and administration[edit]

Michigan Lutheran Seminary's Faculty consists of 17 full-time professors, 4 part-time instructors, and 6 tutors (dormitory supervisors who also teach).

Co-curricular activities[edit]

Michigan Lutheran Seminary offers an array of different co-curricular activities.


MLS students are required to maintain a 2.00 GPA to compete in athletic competitions. Students maintaining at least a 1.68-1.99 GPA are permitted to attend practices, but are prohibited from competing in competitions. Students maintaining a GPA lower than 1.68, are restricted from participating in any MLS athletic activities.

MLS Football 2006

MLS is a member of the Michigan Tri-Valley Conference, and participates in the following sports: Football, Cross Country, Volleyball, Girls'/Boys' Basketball, Wrestling, Baseball, Softball, & Girls'/Boys' Track.

Performing groups[edit]

Michigan Lutheran Seminary supports numerous performing groups as part of its extracurricular program.

  • Pom Pons perform dance routines at pep rallies and all home football games and home boys' basketball games. All students are allowed to try out.
  • The Court Street Players (CSP) is devoted to encouraging interest and involvement in the theater arts at Michigan Lutheran Seminary. CSP produces two productions a year; a fall general production and a spring children production.
  • The Shadows represent Michigan Lutheran Seminary at various churches during the school year. Normally, The Shadows sing pop music for social events at churches, but occasionally they also sing sacred music for worship services.
MLS Concert Choir 2006-2007
  • The MLS Concert Choir, directed by Professor Leonard Proeber, is a group of auditioned Juniors and Seniors who sing sacred music at various churches most weekends throughout the school year.
  • The MLS Cardinal Band offers great enjoyment to home boys' basketball and football games.

Service groups[edit]

Among MLS's extracurriculars are various service groups intended to support school activities and student life.

  • Project Titus trips allow students to be exposed to cross-culture outreach, to gain experience in the work of a missionary, and to be encouraged to continue their training for the public Gospel ministry. MLS students have traveled during the summer months to cities and countries around the world to achieve that since 1981. It is named after Titus, the student of apostle Paul who followed St. Paul on many of his missionary trips.
  • Red'n'White is a student-run online newspaper that includes many serious and humorous articles for everybody's enjoyment.
  • The Cardinal is the title of the MLS Yearbook and is created by a staff of students supported by a faculty advisor.
  • The MLS Student Council is made up of elected representatives of MLS who contribute to Seminary family by organizing student activities.
  • Sight & Sound is a student group which films home (and some away) sporting events, runs sound and lights for chapel services, and sets-up/takes-down for school concerts.


Seal of Michigan Lutheran Seminary

The MLS school seal depicts a cardinal, the school's mascot. Below the cardinal there are three letters: I.N.I. and September 13, 1910—the date the school became part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. I.N.I. stands for "In Nomine Iesu" in Latin (In the name of Jesus). Below that on the lefthand side is Luther's Seal; on the righthand side is a picture from the State Flag of Michigan.

List of presidents[edit]

Presidents Years Served
Revs. A. Lange, Huber, O. Hoyer, Linsemann, and Beer 1885–1907
Rev. Otto J.R. Hoenecke 1910–1950
Rev. Conrad I. Frey 1950–1966
Rev. Martin Toepel 1966–1978
Rev. Dr. John C. Lawrenz 1978–1993
Dr. William E. Zeiger (Acting) 1993–1994
Rev. Paul T. Prange 1994–2009
Dr. William E. Zeiger (Acting) 2009–2010
Rev. Aaron C. Frey 2010
Dr. William E. Zeiger (Acting) 2010–2012
Rev. Joel V. Petermann 2012–2018
Rev. Mark T. Luetzow 2018–present


  1. ^ a b c d "Search for Private Schools – School Detail for Michigan Lutheran Seminary". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  2. ^ "Fast Facts". mlsem.org. Archived from the original on 2012-08-05.
  3. ^ "2012-2013 Seminary Catalog". dropbox.com.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, "Proceedings of the Fifty-ninth Biennial Convention"(Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern Publishing House, 2007) REPORT OF FLOOR COMMITTEE NO. 7, Resolution No. 5, Subpoint 'a'; p. 40(PDF)
  5. ^ Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, "Proceedings of the Fifty-ninth Biennial Convention"(Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern Publishing House, 2007) REPORT OF FLOOR COMMITTEE NO. 7, Resolution No. 5, Subpoint '6'; p. 39(PDF)
  6. ^ [Schmugge, Karl M. "WELSSA" Cardinal Connection Vol. V, Issue II Spring 2006: 13.](PDF)


Braun, John A. Together in Christ: A History of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern Publishing House, 2000. ISBN 0-8100-1211-1

"Michigan Lutheran Seminary," http://www.mlsem.org/

"Michigan Lutheran Seminary," https://web.archive.org/web/20080104110158/http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2617&collectionID=1081&contentID=71112&shortcutID=25231

External links[edit]