Students sitting outside Bockman

Honoring Alumni

The Faithfulness in Ministry Cross Award recognizes Luther Seminary graduates who demonstrate exemplary ministry. Since 1991, the Luther Seminary Alumni Council has presented awards to individuals nominated by their peers. Awards are presented annually at Mid-Winter Convocation.


Nominations for the award are due Sept. 4.

Contact Mary Steeber, or 651-641-3596 for nomination details.

2015 recipients

Stephen Quill, '72

TRUTH Houston, Missouri City, Texas

Wherever there was a challenge that needed a gospel witness in his community, Stephen Quill was on the forefront of using innovation and creativity to address a human need, to unite a divided community or to address a pressing social issue.

The list is huge. And most of the initiatives he started continue to this day. Some of these initiatives include the Austin Hispanic ministry program, the New Hope Free Clinic, Family Promise for the homeless and many MATRIX experiences.

Quill is also adept at getting others involved. In order to sustain these ministries, congregation and community leaders were needed to serve with their gifts and talents as well. He introduced new ministries and followed through with their visions and commitments, even in the face of initial resistance from people in his congregations and communities.

As one of Quill’s colleagues remarked, “No matter how long it takes or tough the fight, Steve never gives up and always believes that if the cause is right, then God will bring people to see the light.” In all of his ministry, Quill has remained focused on the gospel message. He is well known for his inspiring preaching. In the words of one colleague, “Steve is truly evangelical, in the sense that the table he sets is for all. Steve has been able to keep an open heart and mind for all kinds of people without forgetting that his purpose is to make the gospel known in word and deed.”

Quill finds pleasure not in the success of numbers, but rather the success of communities in meeting the needs of those who have been cast aside, and in authentic relationships honoring differences and unity. Another colleague says, “Steve’s preaching comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” In the words of his own bishop, Michael Rinehardt, “Pastor Stephen Quill is a gift to the ELCA.”

Eric Thorson, '02

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Billings, Mont.

All are welcome. ALL are welcome as free and beloved children of God. This belief is at the foundation of Pastor Eric Thorson’s ministry at Bethlehem Lutheran in Billings, Mont., and in all of his life.

When Thorson was called to Bethlehem in a run-down neighborhood of Billings, there were serious discussions about closing the doors. Eric brought to them what he had, which was the gospel. And they responded. Slowly the congregation came back to life. People who had been discouraged were heartened with the Good News. New people began to come— from the neighborhood and the wider community. People who had not felt welcome in churches began to come.

Under Eric’s leadership, a welcome statement, which sought to articulate the many ways in which people can feel alienated, was developed. It has since become the cornerstone of this congregation’s ministry.

Bethelehem is now one of the growing congregations in the Montana Synod of the ELCA. As Bethlehem developed new life and strength, it also became a leader in the community. Eric joined a community effort to establish an interfaith hospitality network to help homeless families and Bethlehem soon became the effort’s home base.

Thorson’s preaching becomes public through his occasional column in the Billings Gazette. His writing has drawn attention from people of other denominations or no faith at all. A recent reader wrote, “If I ever were to embrace Christianity as my spiritual lifeline again, it would be because of daring, caring souls such as the Rev. Eric J. Thorson!”

Thorson serves as a faithful leader to a faithful congregation. He has helped them foster a welcoming and serving community. He has also remained faithful in his preaching and worship leadership, which always relates biblical messages to current social, cultural and political contexts. Thorson leads in ways that encourage growth, learning and welcome. His integrity and invitational ministry are most admirable.

Past recipients