ELCA NEWS SERVICE
January 7, 2011
Paul Egertson, Former ELCA Synod Bishop, Professor and Advocate, Dies
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Dr. Paul W. Egertson, a former synod bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), college professor and advocate for full inclusion of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in the life of the ELCA, died Jan. 5 after suffering a heart attack. Egertson, 75, died at his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
A memorial service will be held Jan. 15 at California Lutheran University's Samuelson Chapel. The university, located in Thousand Oaks, is one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities.
He served as bishop of the ELCA Southern California (West) Synod -- now called the ELCA Southwest California Synod -- from 1995 to 2001. He resigned as bishop after participating in the 2001 ordination of Anita C. Hill, who was not eligible at the time to be on the ELCA clergy roster. After his resignation, Egertson continued to advocate for change in ministry policies, which occurred after the decisions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Hill was formally received as an ELCA pastor in 2010 and serves at St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minn.
Egertson also served many years as a professor in the Religion Department at California Lutheran University. He was a full- and part-time teacher in the university's Religion Department since 1984, and was preparing to teach in the upcoming semester in his role as senior lecturer.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said Egertson was doing what he loved to do -- "engaging students in a way that deepened their understanding, broadened their vision, sometimes challenging their convictions, but always trying to instill an unquenchable curiosity about faith and life."
"I witnessed those same qualities when Paul was a member of the Conference of Bishops," Hanson said. "His deeply held passionate commitment to a church in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are welcomed fully into mission, membership and leadership remains as a defining mark of his leadership." He added that
Egertson and wife, Shirley, have been "loving, supportive parents and gracious in their hospitality."
Emily Eastwood, executive director, Lutherans Concerned/North America, St. Paul, Minn., said Egertson "stood up" for people who were not eligible to serve as ELCA professional leaders. His witness and commitment "are a shining beacon of prophetic righteousness in the face of determined opposition, and he did it with grace and eloquence, as befits a follower of Christ," Eastwood said in a news release from Lutherans Concerned. "He was a friend and mentor -- always available, with words of calming wisdom. He made a profound difference. He will be missed."
The Rev. Dean W. Nelson, bishop of the ELCA Southwest California Synod, said that in addition to his teaching duties at California Lutheran University, Egertson was a faithful parish pastor and committed to continuing education for pastors and lay members.
"Much of his life was dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge on behalf of the faith both for rostered leaders and lay leaders," he said. "He did a Bible survey class for our very successful program called Equipping Leaders for Mission." The course was well-received by students, Nelson added.
The Rev. Howard "Howie" E. Wennes, former bishop of the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod and former acting president of California Lutheran University, knew Egertson well, and is a first cousin. Egertson had a significant impact on many people through various ministries during his life, Wennes said.
"Pastor and preacher, professor and prophet, bishop and servant leader -- take your pick," Wennes said. "In each role he made a deep impression on people's faith. He inspired faith with his preaching. He informed faith with his teaching. He modeled faith with his prophetic witness. For this gifted and dedicated man of faith we join in a chorus of 'Thanks Be to God.'"
Egertson was born in Litchville, N.D. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1955 from Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, and a master of theology degree in 1960 from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, one of eight ELCA seminaries. In 1976 he earned a doctoral degree from the Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, Calif.
Prior to his election as bishop, Egertson taught religion at California Lutheran University, and during that time, he served a shared-time appointment as pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, North Hollywood, Calif.
For 13 years, Egertson was director of the Center for Theological Study, a continuing education program for Lutheran pastors at California Lutheran University. He also served as pastor at ELCA congregations in Lakewood, Calif., Las Vegas and Hollydale, Calif.
Egertson is survived by Shirley, a former teacher at California Lutheran University's Early Childhood Center, and their sons Gregory, Scot, Steven, Glen, Jon and Jordan.
More information about Paul Egertson and California Lutheran University is at http://www.callutheran.edu on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com