The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


March 16, 2007

Herman G. Stuempfle Jr. dies

Herman G. Stuempfle Jr., president of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg from 1976 to 1989, died March 13 following a long illness. Stuempfle, 84, a retired ELCA pastor was also known for his contributions as a poet, preacher and professor. LTSG is one of eight ELCA seminaries. A memorial service for Stuempfle will be held March 17 at the LTSG chapel. Born in Clarion, Pa., Stuempfle was a resident of Gettysburg for more than five decades. He served as professor, dean and president of LTSG for 27 years. In 1962 he was named the John and Susannah Ulrich Professor of the Art of Preaching at LTSG and taught seminarians through the spring semester of 2003. Stuempfle was LTSG chaplain from 1966 to 1967 and dean of the seminary from 1969 to 1971.

"During the latter half of the 20th century, no other individual left a larger imprint on the life of Gettysburg
Seminary than Dr. Herman Stuempfle. On his watch as dean and president the seminary fortified its reputation for academic excellence," said Michael Cooper-White, LTSG president. Stuempfle "doubled housing capacity for students, launched the widely renowned Music Gettysburg! Concert series, welcomed the local YWCA to our campus, and navigated the turbulent times as the newly-formed ELCA struggled to solidify its system of theological education. But it was in the classroom and chapel where Dr. Stuempfle's most enduring legacy was forged. As professor of homiletics and author of the widely acclaimed 'Preaching Law and Gospel,' he sounded a defining tone for a whole generation of us who were blessed to be his students," said Cooper-White.

Stuempfle graduated from Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pa., in 1945, and LTSG in 1946. Susquehanna is one of 28 ELCA colleges and universities. He also earned an advanced degree from Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1967 and adoctorate degree from Southern California School of Theology, Claremont, in 1971.

From 1947 to 1959 Stuempfle was pastor of congregations in Baltimore, Gettysburg and York, Pa. He served as associate director, Board of Social Missions, in the former United Lutheran Church in America from 1959 to 1962. Stuempfle was the author of several books and articles and lectures on preaching, history and theology. He wrote an estimated 550 hymn texts. Eight of Stuempfle's hymn texts are
published in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the ELCA's primary worship resource published in 2006.
Stuempfle's "contributions to our life together extended beyond those precious hymns," said Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop. "His work as a parish pastor, church executive, faculty member, dean and president of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg demonstrated his commitment to the well-being of the church. His life showed clearly and graciously his diverse abilities and wise leadership," he said.

Donald J. McCoid, bishop of the ELCA Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, Pittsburgh, and chair of LTSG's board of directors, said, "Herman Stuempfle will long be remembered for his preaching, his hymnody and his personal graciousness. Years after he preached them, we can still remember some of his sermons."
Stuempfle became the first recipient of the Gettysburg Seminary Distinguished Alumni Award in 1989. A student apartment facility on LTSG's campus is named after Stuempfle. LTSG began a major project to fund the Herman G. Stuempfle Chair of the Proclamation of the Word —an endowment project that recently
reached the $1-million-mark. Stuempfle was also granted the "Peacemaker Award" from the  Gettysburg-based Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, and he was awarded the status of "Fellow
of the Hymn Society" of the United States and Canada in 2004.

Stuempfle is survived by his wife of 50 years, Gretchen S. Parkinson, and his sister, Jean Doneker. Stuempfle and Parkinson are the parents of two sons, Stephen and David, and one daughter, Kristin.

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