August Wenzel, Former Lutheran Bishop, Seminary Educator, Dies

5/8/2008 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. August E. Wenzel, a pastor of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), former Lutheran
bishop and seminary educator, died May 5 of cancer at home in San
Antonio.  He was 72.
     A funeral service will be held May 10 at Faith Lutheran
Church, Seguin, Texas.
     "Augie Wenzel was a rare gift to the church -- part
theologian, part administrator, part visionary for what the
church needs to become and to be," said the Rev. Roger W. Fjeld,
Estes Park, Colo., president emeritus, Wartburg Theological
Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.  "We have reason to grieve the loss of a
fine leader ... and reason to celebrate the lasting contributions
he made to our church and its preparation of leaders in mission,"
he said.
     "Trinity Lutheran Seminary is grateful for the profound
witness that Augie carried into the pastoral office," said the
Rev. Mark R. Ramseth, president, Trinity Lutheran Seminary,
Columbus, Ohio.  "He was always pastor, as he was teacher.  His
lasting legacy will be that of pastor, teacher and bishop who
played a key role in mentoring and forming future leaders for
Christ's church in the world.  The church is grateful," he said.
     Wenzel was born Jan. 26, 1936, near Rockdale, Texas.  He
graduated from Texas Lutheran College (now Texas Lutheran
University), Seguin, and Evangelical Lutheran Theological
Seminary (now Trinity Lutheran Seminary), Columbus -- both ELCA
schools.  He earned a master's degree from Vanderbilt University
School of Divinity, Nashville, Tenn., and a doctorate from
Garrett Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill.
     Ordained in 1964, Wenzel served as pastor of Christ Lutheran
Church, Nashville, and Trinity Lutheran Church, Evanston.  He
served as campus pastor for Texas Lutheran College and as
director of the college's Lutheran Institute for Religious
Studies, which Fjeld called "a cutting-edge continuing education
program" and "one of the earliest such programs."
     In 1978 Wenzel became bishop of the Southern District of the
former American Lutheran Church, one of three church bodies that
formed the ELCA in 1988.  In the ELCA Wenzel was director of the
Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest (LSPS), Austin, Texas,
until he retired in January 2001.
     LSPS is an extension program of Wartburg Theological
Seminary and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, two
seminaries of the ELCA.  The program is located on the campus of
the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, near the
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
     Fjeld said Wenzel accepted the challenge of "shaping and
shepherding" LSPS through the early years of the ELCA, "when the
new church was still trying to decide whether and what kind of
theological extension centers it needed.  That program became a
model for such extension programs," he said.
     Wenzel was preceded in death by his first wife Barbara.  He
is survived by his wife Gail and three sons -- David, Louis and

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