The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Future pastors practice flexibility

Lutheran seminary produced well-rounded students

Gymnastics pyramid was formed by future pastors at the Joint Synod of Ohio’s St. Paul-Luther Seminary.

Flexibility has long been a desired trait for pastors. This gymnastics pyramid was formed by future pastors at the Joint Synod of Ohio’s St. Paul (Minn.)-Luther Seminary. The exact date of the photo is not known, but the students may have been high-school through seminary level.

The Joint Synod of Ohio (1818 to 1930) was a predecessor of the American Lutheran Church — one of three churches that in 1960 formed The American Lutheran Church, one of three churches that merged into the ELCA in 1987. The Joint Synod of Ohio’s St. Paul-Luther Seminary on Lake Phalen (an urban lake in St. Paul), also called the German Practical Theological Seminary, began as a theological seminary , but an increase in students led the synod to add an academy and a two-year college to the three-year seminary program.

Things began to rapidly change in the late 1920s. The school became co-ed in 1927. Then in 1932 (as a result of the 1930 merger into the American Lutheran Church and a drop in attendance due to the Great Depression) the ALC decided to merge the school’s seminary into Wartburg Seminary (Dubuque, Iowa), and consolidate the school’s college (as well as other colleges in Iowa and South Dakota) into Wartburg College (Waverly, Iowa).

Note: The current Luther Seminary in St. Paul has mostly Norwegian ancestry, including the Norwegian Synod (1853-1917)'s Luther Seminary (1876-1917) that operated on Hamline Avenue in St. Paul. After the 1917 merger into the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (1917-1960, although it changed its name to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1946), the former United Norwegian Lutheran Church's seminary grounds on Como Avenue in St. Paul became the home for Luther Seminary, now the ELCA’s largest seminary.


Judith Anderson

Judith Anderson

Posted at 9:54 am (U.S. Eastern) 9/6/2011

My grandfather, Andreas Bersagel, came from Norway and enrolled at the Norwegian seminary.  The name changes and mergers made it difficult for me to figure out exactly where he was a student.

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February issue


Embracing diversity