Professors Emeriti William Smith and Wendell Frerichs are recipients of the Christus Lux Mundi Award.
Professors Emeriti Wendell Frerichs and William Smith received the Christus Lux Mundi Award during the 136th commencement ceremony, May 22. The Christus Lux Mundi Award is Luther Seminary's most distinguished honor.
Frerichs and Smith have prepared generations of church leaders to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19), girding them with the disciplines of prayer and of Christian and biblical reflection and meditation.
Wendell Frerichs taught for 37 years at Luther Seminary as professor of Old Testament before his retirement in 1995. His gift of prayer permeated campus. His straightforward, heartfelt supplications began each of his classes. The Luther Seminary directory of students, faculty and staff became his daily prayer guide.
Frerichs was instrumental in developing a course in discipleship to add to the seminary's curriculum. The course stemmed from his concern about students' faith in daily life. Today, all master of arts, master of sacred music, and master of divinity students meet weekly in discipleship groups. The weekly gatherings include attention to the word of God, prayer, fellowship, encouragement of vocation, and service.
He is the author of Take it to the Lord, Prayer Laments for the Afflicted, and Real Prayers, which is a treasury of prayers he has written and prayed over the years. He also produced a biblical prayer workbook.
Frerichs has studied Jewish-Christian relationships and taught courses on the subject. He has written a manuscript to help Christians understand what it means to live as a Jew, not simply describing Jewish beliefs. For years he led Luther's annual chapel service on Yom Hasho'ah, a day of remembrance of the Holocaust.
Frerichs earned the bachelor of arts degree from St. Olaf College (1948), the bachelor of theology degree from Luther Theological Seminary (1951), the master of sacred theology degree from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, and the doctor of theology degree from the University of Basel in Switzerland.
Following ordination in 1951, Frerichs was pastor of Victory Lutheran Church in Cleveland, Ohio (1951-54), and of Trinity Lutheran Church in Stevens Point,Wis. (1954-56).
William Smith served as professor of pastoral care from 1971-1995. Although he retired officially 10 years ago, he continues to nurture seminarians, encouraging their spiritual growth, and helping to strengthen them for the challenges that lie ahead. He is the spiritual director for many a church leader, a listening ear and a centering spirit for those in need of "soul care," as Smith calls it. Ordained in 1954, he was pastor of Navarino (Wis.) Parish (1954-56), and of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis (1956-1971).
He earned both the bachelor of divinity and master of theology degrees from Luther Theological Seminary (1954 and 1968). He completed supervisory training in clinical pastoral education at Fairview Hospital, Minneapolis; Willmar (Minn.) State Hospital; Menninger Clinic at the Topeka (Kan.) State Hospital; The American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry in New York; and the Sloan-Kettering Institute.
He was director of pastoral counseling at Wilder Clinic, St. Paul, 1971-74, and director of community care resources and associate director of training with the Wilder Foundation in 1974-78. He has been a supervisor with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education since 1968, and established one of the first parishbased clinical pastoral education centers in the country.
In 1973, he developed the Befriender program, a lay training program established to equip laity to assist in the pastoral care ministry of their congregations.
He began his career at Luther Seminary in 1970 as a student counselor before joining the faculty in 1971.
One concern about students came to Smith's attention in 1982 while teaching a course on pre-marriage and marriage ministry. He was unprepared for the number of students who talked about the stress in their own marriages.
Smith and his wife Anita sought advice from well-respected marriage counselors who helped them develop Luther Seminary's Marriage Care program, where couples help each other in small ongoing support groups. Since 1982, 900 couples have participated in Marriage Care while they have been at the seminary.
View this issue as a PDF.