The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) is pleased to announce that President James Nieman will receive a 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, Wash., at a ceremony during Homecoming Weekend on November 3rd. A 1978 graduate of PLU, Nieman is being honored for more than three decades of teaching and leadership in theological education and congregational life.
“When I was younger, PLU opened a universe I had never before experienced,” Nieman said. “I learned how to think critically about complex issues, received leadership opportunities that gave me confidence, and met people who articulated their faith credibly. All these remain gifts from PLU for my current service in our church.”
After graduating from PLU, Nieman earned the MDiv from Wartburg Theological Seminary and was ordained in the American Lutheran Church in 1985. He served as pastor of congregations in Iowa and Alaska. He earned the PhD from Emory University.
Prior to his selection as president of LSTC in 2012, he was professor of homiletics at Wartburg from 1992 to 2004. He served as academic dean at Hartford Seminary and taught practical theology there from 2005 to 2012. His current research focuses on the recovery of practical wisdom (phronesis) within the church and for theological education. He is widely published and has been a leader in academic and professional guilds nationally and internationally.
The Rev. Martin Wells, bishop emeritus of the Eastern Washington – Idaho Synod and recent member of the PLU board of regents, commented, “I can think of no better time to honor one of our own for outstanding local, regional, and national leadership in education and the church,” referring to Nieman’s creative work as a practical theologian, service as pastor of an Alaska Native congregation, and leadership in the ELCA’s revisioning process.
Faculty member the Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing, professor of New Testament at LSTC, added, “The LSTC faculty rejoices in this honoring of President Nieman by PLU – a university from which outstanding graduates have come to study here. He has guided our seminary’s distinctive public voice, including reshaping the curriculum around the theme of ‘public church,’ and articulates Lutheran public theology in a way that attends to the neighbor, grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Nieman has deep roots at PLU. He will be joined at the event by his wife, Rev. JoAnn Post, his father Robert Nieman (PLU BS ‘50) and wife Patricia, his sister Joanne [Nieman] Hinkle (PLU BBA ‘76), and his aunt Stella [Anderson] Nieman (PLU BSN ‘57). Three generations of his family have studied at PLU. His paternal grandfather, Gustav, served on the PLU board of regents.
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.