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Students sitting outside Bockman

Story Magazine

Third Quarter 2008

Commencement Honors 170 New Graduates

by Kelsey Holm, Communication Specialist

Luther Seminary bestowed degrees on 170 students at the 139th Commencement on May 24 at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

Rolf Jacobson, '91, associate professor of Old Testament, gave the commencement address. He referenced the day's stormy forecast in his sermon.

"The rain today is fitting," Jacobson said, "because it fell not only on us, but on the grass and flowers in front of Bockman Hall and on the cross that seems never to change even though the seasons do. Though the rain might dampen our day, it also causes life to sprout and grow.  Like the word you will proclaim wherever you go, it does not return empty, it accomplishes that which God purposes.  It waters the Earth, gives seed to the sower and bread to the hungry."

A unique aspect of this year's commencement was the presence of two student responders where there is usually only one. The first responder, Bruce Lerum, M.Div., explained the unique situation.

"I wasn't the original choice to speak today.  Another was chosen," he said. "Instead of being here, we thought he might be in a hospital room, continuing to heal from leukemia and a bone marrow transplant three months ago.  Instead, he received a hall pass to leave the confines of his hospital room for a short time to be here and share with us. Once again, the power of prayer in Jesus Christ continues to display the authority it holds."

Student responder and M.Div. graduate Scott Nocton receives his diploma from President Richard Bliese.

Lerum referred to Scott Nocton, M.Div., who spoke to his fellow graduates and their loved ones from a wheelchair at the altar. He said the graduates had become like family, and the fact that they were working together to spread the gospel made him proud to be part of the group.

He said, "It's hard for me to be up here having finished and having gone through what I've gone through, but what I realized through this is no matter what the circumstance is, the call still plays itself out. That should be a reminder to all of us, that no matter what your degree is, no matter what your position is in life, there are people out there who need to hear the gospel.  And that's where we all come in."

The service also recognized three retiring faculty members: James Boyce, Marc Kolden and Rod Maeker. Also honored were graduates receiving awards for excellence. They included:

  • The John Milton Prize in Old Testament given to Chelsea DeArmond and Joseph Arnold Hilgenkamp.

  • The A.E. Hanson Prize in Homiletics given to Meta Saunders Herrick, Kelsay Olivia Parker and Daniel P. Ruth.

  • The G.M. & Minnie Bruce Award in New Testament given to Joseph Arnold Hilgenkamp.

  • The Graduate Preaching Fellowship given to Travis Steven Gerjets.

    Master of Afts graduate Emily Myallis is hooded by Mary Hinkle Shore, associate dean for first theological degree programs.