The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The way we were: Early 1960s

Ethicist George Forell lectures to a packed auditorium

Forell talks to studentsGeorge Forell's dynamic style and challenging courses were so popular that the University of Iowa, Iowa City, moved his class to this auditorium (with overflow seating) in the early 1960s.

A respected and occasionally controversial ethicist and Martin Luther scholar, Forell taught thousands of students in a 40-year career that began at Gustavus Adolphus College, an ELCA-affiliated school in St. Peter, Minn

Known as "a students' teacher," Forell was once arrested with anti-Vietnam student protesters who had gathered on the university quad.

Forell, a refugee from the Nazis, studied to be a pastor at the Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia and earned a doctorate in theology from Union Seminary in New York.

He was a mentor to dozens of doctoral students and helped develop Lutheran social statements for the ELCA and its predecessor bodies. Forell, a retired ELCA pastor, turned 90 in September 2009.

A crowed University of Iowa classroom


Dennis Bielfeldt

Dennis Bielfeldt

Posted at 10:56 pm (U.S. Eastern) 6/16/2010

I was one of George's last Ph. D. students.  Dr. Forell cared deeply about all of his students, even those with whom he did not agree.   (The two of us have, however, tended to agree most of the time.)   George always liked teaching at the University where not everyone agreed with him.   He used to say, "Some of my best friends are atheists."  He was right:  Those having no sense of the Infinite found in George a warm and congenial dialogue partner, and a man who deeply cared about them.    

Dr. Dennis Bielfeldt, President 

Institute of Lutheran Theology  

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