Bishop Lowell G. Almen, upon recommendation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has been affirmed by the Lenoir-Rhyne University Board of Trustees as Chair of the Advisory Council of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.
Bishop Almen succeeds The Reverend William B. Trexler, Ph.D., who assumed the chairmanship in 2012, the year LR merged with the seminary. Trexler played an important role in welcome strengthening the partnership between the seminary and University. He served on the LTSS Board of Trustees and Advisory Council for 21 years.
"It has been a joy to see the merger solidify into a meaningful working relationship with the University and to witness the growth and accomplishments of the seminary," Trexler said. "The Advisory Council is in excellent hands in Bishop Lowell Almen. He is a preeminent churchman and will bring many strengths to his new responsibility."
Almen was elected the first Secretary of the ELCA in 1987 and served in that role for 20 years. He currently serves as the fifth bishop of the ELCA's Grand Canyon Synod, a role which he was appointed to by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton. Previously, Almen served as associate campus pastor and director for communications at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. During that time, he also assisted in pastoral ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead. His ecumenical endeavors have been extensive, including meeting with Pope John Paul II on five occasions and with Pope Benedict XVI on four occasions. Almen was in Rome the night Pope Francis was introduced as the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He also met with Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church on five occasions, and has met with the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury in London. Almen was honored with the Servus Dei Medal at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly. The Servus Dei (Servant of God) Medal honors retiring officers of the ELCA. He was lauded for his many gifts and abilities as Secretary of the ELCA.
During the LTSS Advisory Council's spring meeting, Almen was awarded the prestigious Bachman Award for distinguished leadership in supporting the seminary. Trexler will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by the University at its spring graduation ceremony.
"The seminary has been extremely fortunate to have benefited from the leadership of two outstanding churchmen," said Dr. Fred Whitt, University president. "It is our joy to honor them both with distinguished recognitions."