Archive for the ‘Seminex’ Tag

Feast of Will Herzfeld (June 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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U.S. Lutheran Ecumenist, Presiding Bishop of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and Civil Rights Activist


Will was a person with uncanny insight, constant respect for people, and a focus on the gospel.  He conveyed the partnership, accompaniment, of a large North American church with churches in other lands in a manner that transcended economic, cultural, and political boundaries.

–Bonnie L. Jansen, Executive Director, Division for Global Mission, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 408


Bishop Will Herzfeld was a leader of U.S. Lutheranism.  He departed from one denomination, helped to form two denominations, and played a vital role in increasing the degree of unity of Lutheranism in the United States.  Activism in support of civil rights was a component of his faith.

Herzfeld grew up in the Jim Crow South.  He, born in Mobile, Alabama, on June 9, 1937, was a son of Julius Herzfeld, Sr., and Clarice Heinningburg Herzfeld.  Our saint grew up in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS)–in Faith Lutheran Church, Mobile, to be precise.  He attended parochial schools then other Lutheran institutions of education for African Americans.  Herzfeld graduated from the subpar Alabama Lutheran Academy and College (now Concordia College), Selma.  He carried negative memories of this institution for the rest of his life.  Our saint also graduated from Immanuel Lutheran College, Greensboro, North Carolina (1957).  Herzfeld went on to graduate from Immanuel Lutheran Seminary, Greensboro (M.Div., 1961), and to continue his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.  Meanwhile, he married Thressa M. Alston at Kannapolis, North Carolina, on June 11, 1961.  The couple had four children–two daughters and two sons–three of whom lived to adulthood.  Their first child, a daughter, lived only one day.

Herzfeld was an ordained minister in the LCMS from 1961 to 1976.  His first pastorate was Christ Lutheran Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (1961-1965).  Our saint became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement while in Tuscaloosa.  He helped to organize the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1963.  Herzfeld, the first president of that chapter, worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968).  OUr saint also served as the president of the Alabama branch of the SCLC (1964-1965).  On the denominational level, he was active in the Southern District of the LCMS.  Our saint sat on the Stewardship Committee and the Family Life Committee.  Furthermore, he was the Vice President of the Lutheran Human Relations Association of America (1964-1966).

Herzfeld ministered in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, starting .  He, based in Oakland, California, was an urban minister for the district (1966-1969).  Our saint also served as the regional mission executive of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. (1969-1973).  This service overlapped with his time on the LCMS Board of Missions (1969-1973), the Council for Christian Medical Work (1973-1975), and the Board of Directors of the Wheat Ridge Foundation (now the We Raise Foundation) from 1069 to 1972.  The latter organization addresses social inequality.

Herzfeld ministered in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, starting in 1966.  He, based in Oakland, California, was an urban minister for the district (1966-1969).  Our saint also served as the regional mission executive of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. (1969-1973).  This service overlapped with his time on the LCMS Board of Missions (1969-1973), the Council for Christian Medical Work (1973-1975), and the Board of Directors of the Wheat Ridge Foundation (now the We Raise Foundation) from 1969 to 1972.  (The We Raise Foundation addresses social inequality.)

Above:  Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, California

Image Source = Google Earth

Herzfeld was the pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, California, from 1973 to 1992.  These were eventful years for U.S. Lutheranism.  Our saint, who had represented LCMS President Jacob Preus at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the LCMS mission in India in 1969, broke with Preus during the doctrinal turmoil (1969-1976) in the denomination.  Herzfeld became the vice president of the moderate Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (ELIM) in 1973.  Three years later, he became the Vice President of the moderate, breakaway Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC), to which ELIM gave birth.  The AELC eventually changed its title to Presiding Bishop.  Herzfeld became the Presiding Bishop in 1984.  By then he had been active for years in efforts to merge the AELC, the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987), and The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987) into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Herzfeld was socially and politically active.  He taught urban ministry at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California, starting in 1976.  He devoted much to ecumenical Black Theology-related projects and organizations for decades.  Our saint always seemed to find time for work in civil rights.  He worked for nuclear disarmament.  Herzfeld, active in urban renewal in Oakland, served in a variety of capacities toward that end.  He also found time to be the chaplain of the Golden State Warriors, a professional basketball team, from 1984 to 1991.

Herzfeld made history.  He made history in 1984, when he became the first African-American head of a U.S. Lutheran denomination.  He made history in the 1980s by being prominent in the movement to bring global pressure on the Apartheid-era governments of South Africa.  Our saint made history by helping to seal the deal to form the ELCA.

Meanwhile, Herzfeld continued his education.  He earned two doctorates–one from the Center for Urban Black Studies, the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California; and the other one from Seminex.

Herzfeld resigned from Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, at the end of 1992 to accept promotion to the denominational level.  He moved to Chicago, Illinois, to become the Director for Global Community and Overseas Operations of the Division of Global Mission of the ELCA.  He, already a presence in global Lutheranism, expanded his worldwide profile.  He served as the Vice Presidency of Lutheran World Relief.  Our saint, a vice president of the National Council of Churches during his final years, was also active in the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.  Herzfeld represented the ELCA globally in a variety of capacities and at a number of events.

In 2002, Herzfeld visited the Central African Republic.  He went there to attend the ordination of the first female Lutheran minister in that country.  Unfortunately, he also contracted cerebral malaria.  A month later, on May 9, our saint died at Resurrection Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.  Had Herzfeld lived one month longer, he would have celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday.

Survivors included Herzfeld’s former wife, Thressa; his three adult children–Martin, Katherine, and Stephen; and five grandchildren.  Our saint’s second wife, the Reverend Michele L. Robinson, had died in May 2001.

Herzfeld’s death prompted many remembrances and kind words.  Perhaps the most poignant statement came from a colleague, Herbert Chilstrom, the first Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. Chilstrom said,

I’ve lost a friend.


God of justice, we praise you as we thank you for the

life, work, and legacy of your servant, Will Herzfeld.

May we, deriving inspiration from his example,

confront and resist systems of oppression and artificial inequality

as we strive to live according to the Golden Rule

and to leave society better than we found it.

May we also work to break down unnecessary barriers

to greater ecclesiastical unity and cooperation, for your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Amos 5:21-24

Psalm 95

Galatians 5:13-15

Matthew 25:31-46









Feast of Paul Manz (October 29)   1 comment

Above:  Luther Rose

Image Source = Jed


PAUL MANZ (MAY 10, 1919-OCTOBER 28, 2009)

Dean of Lutheran Church Music

Among Lutherans, he was the dean of church music.

–David Cherwin, Organist, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2009


He re-stimulated creative hymn playing.  He was playing around, but these [delightful and well-crafted] pieces [into which he introduced improvisations at Mount Olive Church and introduced at hymn festivals nationwide] affirmed the extraordinary musical sophistication he had.  He left a legacy in the pieces that are being used regularly.

— John Ferguson, Professor of Organ and Church Music, St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, 2009

Relying on ecclesiastical authorities to name saints is, in itself, insufficient.  If I were to follow that strategy alone, I would not recognize Paul Manz as a saint.

Paul Manz (1919-2009) died at the age of 90 years.  Ruth, his wife of 65 years, predeceased him by a year.  They had four children:  John, a Lutheran minister; Peter; Michael (died in 2006); and David, who died at birth.  The couple also raised the orphaned children of Ruth’s brother and sister-in-law.  Thus Mary, Anne, Sarah, and John Mueller joined the household.

Paul Manz, born in Cleveland, Ohio, began his life as a musician with piano lessons at age five.  While attending Concordia High School in River Forest, Illinois, he took private lessons with premier organists.  The saint earned his master’s degree in organ performance at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.  Then he taught at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and at Macalester College, St. Paul.  He also served as chair of the Department of Music at Concordia University, St. Paul, for nineteen years.  For 37 years (until his retirement in 1983) Manz served as organist and Director of Christian Education at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Minneapolis.  In 1956 Manz left for Europe for a year on a Fulbright Scholarship.  The church gave him the year off with pay.

Manz became one of the leading organists in the United States.  In fact, he was officially among the 101 Most Notable Organists of the Twentieth Century, according to the American Guild of Organists in 2000.  Other honors included the Alumni Merit Award from Northwestern University, the Confessor of Christ Award from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the Gutenberg Award from the Chicago Bible Society, the Wittenberg Arts Award from the Luther Institute, and honorary doctorates from St. Olaf College and Valparaiso University.  Manz was also on an official list of the ten Most Influential Lutherans.

Manz was part of the liberal wing of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).  From 1969 to 1976 a civil war raged in that denomination.  Manz and Mount Olive Church were among those who formed the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) in 1976.  The AELC participated in the 1987 merger which formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  This background explains the 1983-2009 part of Manz’s life.  In 1983 Manz relocated to Chicago, where he taught at the Lutheran School of Theology, which had ties to Seminex, founded as Concordia Seminary in Exile.  He retired from the Lutheran School of Theology in 1992.  And Manz made quite an impression.

The church and the world were blessed beyond measure by the talents and gifts Paul Manz shared with our seminary community.  His legacy of teaching and his music will continue through our graduates to touch the lives of future generations.   His tireless effort, generating support for our institution through hymn festivals, was a mark of his remarkable ministry.  We give thanks to God for the good fortune of having known Paul and his beloved Ruth as members of the Seminex and LSTC communities.

–James Kenneth Echols, President, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2009

Manz, while in Chicago, attended the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Luke, where he served as cantor.  That parish has established the Paul Manz Institute of Church Music.  Manz retired from his role in that congregation in 1999.

I learned of Paul Manz a few years ago, when Dallas Bono, choir director at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, selected the saint’s most famous motet for the choir to sing.  “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come,” published in 1954, has a powerful backstory.  John, son of Paul and Ruth, was three years old and in the hospital with double pneumonia and a high fever.  His survival was uncertain.  Ruth paraphrased verses from Revelation 22 and Paul composed the music.  John survived.  As I write these words he is on staff at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Paul Manz’s last parish and the site of his funeral.  And it was appropriate that, as the elder Manz, unable to speak, lay dying, his family members sang the motet as they surrounded him.

The words of the motet follow:

Peace be to you and grace from him

Who freed us from our sins,

Who loved us all and shed his blood

That we might saved be.

Sing holy, holy to our Lord,

The Lord Almighty God,

Who was and is and is to come;

Sing holy, holy, Lord!

Rejoice in heaven, all ye that dwell therein,

Rejoice on earth, ye saints below,

For Christ is coming, is coming soon,

For Christ is coming soon!

E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come,

And night shall be no more;

They need no light nor lamp nor sun,

For Christ will be their All!








Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Paul Manz

and all those who with music have filled us desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior,

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from the Proper for Artists and Writers, Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728


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