The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Quake claims future pastor

'Ben spent his last breath singing'

As news of the earthquake spread, Benjamin Judd Larson, 25, became for many Lutherans the face of the tragedy in Haiti. A senior at Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, he was spending January there teaching theology.

Ben Judd Larson (left), Renee Splichal
Ben Judd Larson (left), Renee Splichal Larson and Jonathan Larson, students at Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, were spending their January term in Haiti when the earthquake hit.
Larson, his wife, Renee Splichal Larson, and a cousin, Jonathan Larson, were inside St. Joseph Home for Boys, Port-au-Prince, when the quake hit. While his wife and cousin were able to escape, Larson was buried as the building collapsed.

Benjamin's parents are April Ulring Larson, a pastor of First Lutheran Church, Duluth, Minn., and former bishop of the La Crosse [Wis.] Area Synod, and Judd W. Larson, interim pastor of Our Savior Lutheran, Duluth.

In an interview with the ELCA News Service, Larson's wife recounted what occurred as the building began to shake: "Jonathan and I were together. [Ben] was hugging a pillar in the middle of the floor. I turned and I saw him, and I saw concrete starting to fall on him. I called for him and started running toward him."

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Embracing diversity