May 19, 2000 Print This Article

Concordia Seminary Confers 123 Degrees at 2000 Commencement

The 161st academic year of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, came to a close on Friday, May 19. The day’s activities included a 10:00 a.m. baccalaureate service in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus, followed by a special luncheon for graduates and their families in the Seminary’s Luther Statue Park. Commencement exercises were held outdoors at 7:00 p.m. in the Seminary’s main quadrangle.

Dr. John W. Oberdeck, assistant professor of practical theology and director of continuing education and parish services at Concordia Seminary, delivered the sermon at the baccalaureate service. Following the sermon, students who successfully completed one of the programs of preparation for service in the pastoral ministry in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) were presented their theological diplomas and diplomas of vocation. In this act, the Seminary faculty fulfilled publicly the responsibility given it by the LCMS to certify those men it determines to be qualified in every respect for service in the pastoral ministry.

At the evening commencement exercises, Dr. Robert King, second vice president of the LCMS and adjunct faculty member at Concordia Seminary, served as commencement speaker. Following his address, 103 students received the master of divinity degree. Most students who desire to be pastors, missionaries or chaplains in the LCMS receive this degree. Other degrees conferred included five master of arts degrees, three doctor of ministry degrees, 10 master of sacred theology degrees and two doctor of philosophy degrees. Fifteen students were recognized as candidates for completion of the alternate route (certificate) program. Upon successful completion of a one-year vicarage (internship), these students will be certified as eligible to receive calls and serve as pastors, missionaries or chaplains in the LCMS.

Five individuals were selected by the Concordia Seminary faculty to receive special honors during the commencement exercises: Dr. Gerhard H. Mundinger, Rev. Kenneth W. Behnken, Rev. Dennis A. Kastens, Rev. Norbert V. Becker and Rev. Eugene Oesch. Mundinger, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon who is a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Brandon, Miss., received the Christus Vivit Award in recognition of his activities which “represent the embodiment of Christian service in world and church, living the life of faith in both contexts.” Behnken, executive director of urban and ethnic ministries for the Pacific Southwest District of the LCMS, received the Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his service which “models servant leadership with a strong commitment to extending the mission of the church in a rapidly changing and diverse culture.” Kastens, senior pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in St. Louis, was awarded the honorary Doctor of Letters degree in recognition of his life of service which “exemplifies the spirit and mind of the Christian man of letters, caring first for those entrusted to his care but eager to share his knowledge of the history of his faith with others.” Becker and Oesch were both awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of their many years of distinguished service in the church.

For more information, contact Rev. Glen Thomas, vice president for seminary relations, at (314) 505-7371 or via e-mail (