Featured Stories, Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Bob Holst to receive Gold Pen, Kevyn Burger to speak at Metro Lutheran Annual Dinner

Retired Concordia University, St. Paul, president and author Bob Holst will receive Metro Lutheran’s Gold Pen Award in October. Photo provided by Concordia University, St. Paul

Not that long ago, Metro Lutheran’s 2011 Gold Pen award winner was in danger of arrest. At least that was Lynne Holst’s opinion in 1983. She feared her husband Bob Holst would be arrested.

On sabbatical at a study center between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, he would often see a checkpoint where Israeli soldiers looked at identification papers of people coming and going. He felt it was unjust, Lynne Holst says. She feared he might speak up.

That led to much prayer on her part. “Bob is very, very principled,” says his wife of 51 years. “He lives by his principles. He’ll do whatever is necessary.”

Transformed

That’s your Gold Pen Award winner — but no checkpoint dust-ups. Holst stayed out of enough trouble to become president of Concordia University in St. Paul, retiring in May after 20 years of leading its transformation from a small church college into a remarkably diverse urban university.

Of its 2,800 students, 63 percent are Caucasian, 11 percent African-American, 11 percent Hmong. That mix well reflects the neighborhood, long an African-American enclave where now Hmong businesses have revitalized nearby University Avenue. Indeed, the Holsts gave up their on-campus house so it could become the university’s Center for Hmong Studies. Anticipating retirement, they bought a house across the street.

His career helps explain his openness. In 1983, the New Testament scholar was on sabbatical from Christ College in Irvine, California — now Concordia University Irvine — studying at the Ecumenical Institute for Theological Research at Tantur on the junction of the main road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. The University of Notre Dame operated Tantur but Spanish Benedictines ran it. “So I had a great year with Benedictines,” Holst says.

Two decades later, Bob Holst was still riding public buses around Israel, when the U.S. State Department discouraged visiting the country at all — and public buses were particularly to be avoided. In 2006 he rode the public bus from Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee through the Megiddo Junction in northern Israel to the airport at Tel Aviv. He learned later that Hezbollah had just launched its month-long missile bombardment, setting off war. And Megiddo Junction is where four years earlier a suicide bomber had killed 17 public-bus riders, most of them Israeli soldiers.

Holst could have taken a taxi to the airport, or rented a car. That’s just not his way. “I’m a great believer,” he says, “in experiences.”

Disengage

Now he has a new experience — retirement, or some semblance of it. When Holst left the office of president of Concordia University in May, he had two separate plans: Disengage from day-to-day operations at Concordia University. Then find something else to do.

It began with travel. Bob and Lynne drove to the Black Hills of South Dakota, to the Columbia River in Washington state, then back northeast to Calgary, where he once served a congregation as a vicar.

The second priority? He’s had offers, but hasn’t decided. He’s taking his time. By about Christmas, he may know.

Holst will receive the Metro Lutheran award October 23 at Mount Olivet, 50th and Knox in Minneapolis. The keynote speaker is Kevyn Burger, a veteran Twin Cities broadcaster. (See “Local broadcaster to keynote program,” below.) A reception begins at 4:30 p.m., and dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. For reservations, call 612/230-3282 or send a check to Metro Lutheran, Attn: Ann at 122 W. Franklin Ave., Suite 206, Minneapolis MN 55404.

Local broadcaster to keynote program

Kevyn Burger, a veteran Twin Cities broadcaster now with Minnesota Public Radio, will keynote the October 23 Metro Lutheran annual dinner at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church (ELCA), 50th and Knox in Minneapolis.
The mother of three is a breast-cancer survivor in remission since 2007. During her treatment she continued daily radio shows, including, she says, one during the State Fair — without hair.
Burger plans a speech that “will inspire you with a message about how to tap into your own authenticity and give it to the waiting world.”
The Mount Olivet member grew up Roman Catholic in Ohio, where her father, a high-school basketball coach, told her to give back to the game.
That goes for her personal life as well. “Friendship in a way is kind of a bank account,” says Burger. “You don’t always realize you have established it — but if you’re going to make withdrawals you have to make deposits.”

Kevyn Burger, a veteran Twin Cities broadcaster now with Minnesota Public Radio, will keynote the October 23 Metro Lutheran annual dinner at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church (ELCA), 50th and Knox in Minneapolis.The mother of three is a breast-cancer survivor in remission since 2007. During her treatment she continued daily radio shows, including, she says, one during the State Fair — without hair. Burger plans a speech that “will inspire you with a message about how to tap into your own authenticity and give it to the waiting world.”The Mount Olivet member grew up Roman Catholic in Ohio, where her father, a high-school basketball coach, told her to give back to the game.That goes for her personal life as well. “Friendship in a way is kind of a bank account,” says Burger. “You don’t always realize you have established it — but if you’re going to make withdrawals you have to make deposits.”

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