ELCA NEWS SERVICE
December 11, 2012
Richard Bliese resigns as president of ELCA's Luther Seminary
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Dr. Richard Bliese has resigned as president of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., according to a Dec. 10 announcement from the seminary. Luther is one of eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Bliese served as president since 2005.
“Throughout this church there are members deeply grateful for the gifted pastors and lay leaders who have been prepared for ministry during Dr. Bliese's tenure as president of Luther Seminary,” said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop.
“Dr. Bliese's consistent priority was for Luther Seminary to prepare evangelical leaders to serve God's mission in a rapidly changing and increasingly diverse context. He was committed to developing partnerships with congregations with particular focus on stewardship, leadership and preaching,” said Hanson.
Bliese “built upon Luther's strong faculty with new appointments that brought ecumenical and global perspectives. He led Luther through the expansion of distance learning offerings while maintaining a commitment to the benefits of learning in a seminary community that gathers for worship, study and conversation,” said Hanson. “I thank God for Rick's leadership.”
The Rev. James M. Lindus, chair of Luther’s board of directors, expressed gratitude for Bliese’s leadership and “for all Rick has done during his years at Luther Seminary.”
Bliese’s “compelling vision, unwavering commitment to Luther Seminary’s mission and aggressive strategic plan have helped the seminary maintain a healthy enrollment of students, a stellar faculty and strong financial support from loyal and dedicated donors,” said Lindus.
While the seminary continues to function at “a high level,” said Lindus, Luther is facing “a difficult combination of challenges, not unlike those faced by many other institutions of higher education. These challenges include deferred maintenance charges related to aging buildings, the costs of delivering a wide variety of educational programs and a nationwide drop in the number of students attending seminaries.”
Lindus said that the transition in leadership comes at a time when the financial performance of the seminary has lagged expectations. The seminary is taking positive measures to ensure its financial health, which has included the naming of an interim chief financial officer.
Prior to his presidency, Bliese was the seminary’s dean of academic affairs and associate professor of missions from 2003 to 2005. Before joining Luther, he served as the director of graduate studies and as the Augustana Heritage associate professor of global mission and evangelism at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, an ELCA seminary. While there, Bliese served as a part-time pastor at St. Andrews Lutheran Church, Glenwood, Ill.
A graduate of Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, Bliese earned a master of divinity degree from Christ Seminary Seminex, St. Louis, in 1981. His first call as an ordained pastor was to St. Stephanus Lutheran Church in Herne, Germany. After serving four years there, he accepted a position with the United Evangelists Missions in Germany as director of the continuing education program for pastors and evangelists in Zaire and Rwanda.
From 1986 to 1990, he led a small urban congregation in Bukavu, Zaire, and focused on directing continuing education programs at the Centre D'Accueil Protestante Ecumenical Center, School for Evangelists in Zaire and Rwanda. There he established the center’s schools of music, evangelism and language, and co-founded a regional development office for research and technical assistance.
After 10 years overseas, Bliese returned to the United States and earned a master of theology in 1992 and a doctorate in confessional theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1995.
In addition to his teaching and pastoral career, Bliese has led mission and evangelism seminars and workshops as an independent consultant, administered the Hein-Fry Lecture Series, and served as president of the Center for World Christian Interaction. He has published articles throughout the world and co-edited “The Dictionary of Mission: Theology, History, Perspectives” (1997) and was co-editor of “The Evangelizing Church: A Lutheran Contribution (2005).”
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com