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Story Magazine

Fall 2012

Professor Emeritus Sheldon A. Tostengard, 1935-2012

by Christine Hallenbeck Ask, M.Div. '15 and John Klawiter, M.Div. '12

Luther Seminary gives thanks to God for the life and witness of the Rev. Sheldon A. Tostengard. Tostengard, 76, of Roseville, Minn., died peacefully at home on April 29 following complications from Parkinson's disease. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; children, Timothy, Michael (Theresa) and Martha Tostengard; grandchildren Annika, Renee, Eli, Mara and Anna; sister, Kathy Walther; and many other relatives and friends.

After serving Luther Seminary for more than 15 years as associate professor of homiletics, in 1996 Tostengard resigned due to health concerns. In his resignation letter, he wrote, "Teaching preaching is a particularly enervating task; but if we are training pastors so that the story of Jesus' saving work might more powerfully and precisely be told, then I have the satisfaction of knowing that I've been working near the center of the church's mission."

Tostengard received a Bachelor of Arts from Luther College in 1957 and a Bachelor of Divinity from Luther Seminary in 1961. He earned the Master of Theology from Union Seminary in 1962. He studied at Cambridge University from 1983--1984.

Ordained in 1962, Tostengard was pastor of Zion Lutheran and Christ Lutheran churches in Hartford, S.D., from 1962--67. He served as senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Jamestown, N.D., from 1975--77.

In 1977 Tostengard joined the Luther Seminary faculty and was named professor of pastoral theology and ministry in homiletics in 1987. He previously served as professor of religion at Augustana College from 1967--75.

"He had a clear ear for what the gospel sounded like in this culture," said Rolf Jacobson, associate professor of Old Testament and Tostengard's former student. "He was a fine preacher and an excellent teacher of preachers."

Jacobson recalled how witty Tostengard was and told a story about classmate David Lillejord, now senior pastor at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, Minn. Jacobson was giving a sermon in preaching class when Lillejord fell out of his chair. Not missing a beat, Tostengard stopped the sermon and checked out the situation. He said, "I always hoped during my teaching that someone would be slain in the Spirit during a student sermon ... but it's just that Lillejord's chair broke. Jacobson, go on."

He was a member of the American Academy of Homiletics, the College of Preachers and the Society of Biblical Literature. He was the author of "The Spoken Word" (1989) and the forthcoming "Language and Preaching."

Contribute your own memories of Professor Tostengard at

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