LRU News

Coming home to the seminary – Alum returns to head LTSS advancement

Tue Feb 11 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — For the Rev. Paul Summer, his appointment as the new Executive Director of Advancement at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary is a homecoming decades in the making.

Summer grew up in Columbia and did his seminary training at Southern before moving on to Florida where he served as a pastor for some 22 years.

From there he became the ELCA foundation’s regional gift planner for five years before becoming the assistant to the Bishop of the Southeastern Synod—the position he left to join the LTSS team.

“I was fully committed as the Bishop’s assistant—I wasn’t looking for mobility,” Summer said. “I was approached by various people and asked to consider the position.”

He said the urging he heard was more than the urging of his friends and peers.

“It was an external call—it was God’s voice through the voice of his people,” Summer said. “I thought about it and prayed about it. I meditated on the sense of an internal call to take the position and I looked at my gifts to see if they lined up with the external call.”

Over the years since his own graduation from the seminary, Summer’s ties to the school have remained strong. His eldest daughter followed in her father’s footsteps and graduated from Southern and Summer served on the seminary’s Board of Trustees.

He knows first-hand the value of an education designed to teach, form and nurture leaders to serve the institution of the church and he realized he belonged at Southern where he will continue his life’s work.

“Being connected to Lenoir-Rhyne University is key because the church is called to be active in the world,” Summer said. “God’s at work in doing more than training seminarians—he’s training others as well.”

He said he wants Southern to be in a position to ask one question: “Where is the church in the world and what is our calling in the world?” Summer said. “LR and Southern have put these concerns into a missional context that fits.”

He described his leadership style as a collaborative networker and said he’s looking forward to working on the fundraising side of Southern’s leadership team in an effort to ensure the seminary’s long-term fiscal health.

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