- UA 12.2.1
- Corporate body
The Student Congregation of Pacific Lutheran College (PLC) was formed in 1955 through the combined efforts of President Eastvold, the PLC faculty and the student body. It was created with the intent to be a congregation made up of and run by the students of PLC, functioning under the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC). It functioned the same as any ELC congregation of the time, with a Church Council and its officers, a Board of Trustees to handle material matters, and a Board of Deacons of handle spiritual matters. The recently constructed Chapel-Music-Speech Building was to function as its place of worship, and the first pastor called to minister to the Student Congregation was Reverend Robert W. Lutnes.
Pastor Lutnes served as Pastor to the Student Congregation during its formative years, at first only overseeing the congregation and its needs, but by his final year (1958) acting as official advisor to all of the religious clubs on campus. Also in 1958, he was officially asked to assist the Dean of students in arranging speakers for the required Chapel services that took place four days a week in the Chapel-Music-Speech Building--a task that had previously been the responsibility of the Dean and the President.
Reverend John Larsgaard was called to be the second pastor to the Student Congregation in 1959. In 1960, Pacific Lutheran College became Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), and in 1962 President Eastvold resigned, to be replaced by Dr. Mortvedt. With the steady growth of the Student Congregation, the workload quickly became too heavy for one pastor to handle everything. Thus, a number of different Associate Pastors--many of them housefathers--were hired part-time to help ease the burden. They included Pastor "Pops" Malmin (housefather of Old Main (Harstad)), Pastor S.M. Moe (housefather in Ivy Hall), Pastor Alf Kraabel (housefather in Pflueger), and Joseph Shefveland (Foss Hall). By 1966 the work load became heavy enough that a second full-time pastor became necessary and Reverend Morris Dalton was called to be Associate Pastor to the Student Congregation.
In addition to his duties as Pastor to the University Congregation, Pastor Larsgaard was also University Chaplain, and therefore in charge of organizing Chapel. Ever since the Chapel-Music-Speech Building was built in 1952, all students had been required to attend Chapel four days a week. In 1966, though, the student body began to argue against mandatory Chapel attendance. Pastor Larsgaard agreed with the students, supporting voluntary Chapel for everyone, and the school year of 1967-1968 was the first year that students were not required to attend Chapel.
Both Pastor Larsgaard and President Mortvedt left PLU in 1969. President Mortvedt was replaced by Dr. Wiegman, and Pastor Larsgaard by Reverend Don Taylor. This was a time of upheaval and change at PLU. It was generally considered that the Student Congregation was not meeting the needs of the students on campus, and President Weigman felt that it was important to find alternate worship possibilities and a different form of organization for religious groups on campus. In response to this, the Religious Life Council was formed as a governing body for all religious groups on campus. Additionally, the Religious Life Council was given the authority to appoint ministers to the university. Thus, the ministers called to the University were no longer Pastors to the Student Congregation, but Ministers to the University at large, with the Student Congregation being only one of their responsibilities.
Following this change in structure, Pastor Dalton's contract was not renewed, and Pastor Taylor's was only renewed for one year. In 1971, Reverend Gordon Lathrop was called to be University Minister. He worked as the only pastor on campus for two years, though he had interns to help him with his duties. In 1973, the Student Congregation revised its constitution and changed its name to the University Congregation. In that same year, the workload again became too heavy for one pastor, even with the help of interns, and Reverend James Beckman was called to minister alongside Pastor Lathrop. During their two years together, the PLU administration reached a point of upheaval. President Wiegman took a leave of absence for his final year as University President, and Provost Jungkuntz took over for him. In 1975, Dr. William Rieke was chosen as PLU's next president.
Pastor Lathrop left PLU in 1975, and Reverend Donald Jerke was called to take his place. Pastor Jerke worked alongside Pastor Beckman until 1976, when Pastor Beckman died of cancer. That year Reverend Ronald Tellefson was called to be Campus Minister alongside Pastor Jerke. In 1978, the Religious Life Council revised its constitution and changed its name to the Campus Ministry Council. One year later, Pastor Jerke resigned his post as University Minister and accepted a position as Vice President for Student Life.
Pastor Tellefson stayed as University Minister for ten years. During that time the Beckman Memorial Lectureship Series was initiated in Memory of Pastor Beckman, the first being held in 1978. In 1980, Reverend Ron Pierre Vignec was called to be Associate Pastor. Together he and Tellefson saw the establishment of ties between PLU and Africa, the creation of the Chicago Folk Services, the 1982 Peacemaking Conference, and another revision of the Campus Ministry Council's constitution. Pastor Vignec left PLU in 1985, the same year that the University Congregation celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Pastor Tellefson stayed as Campus Minister until 1987, when he accepted the appointment as Director of Church and University Support at PLU.
In 1987, three University Ministers were called simultaneously to serve PLU. Reverends Daniel Erlander, Susan Briehl and Martin Wells ministered to PLU until 1994.