Commencement speaker is the Rev. Dr. Stanley Olson, President of Wartburg Seminary and previously executive director for the Vocation and Education Unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
The Rev. Dr. G. Daniel Jones, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Germantown and past chair of LTSP's Urban Theological Institute Committee of Advisors is being honored by the seminary with the Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa, in recognition of his long association with the seminary and the Urban Theological Institute (UTI) and the support he and Grace Church have provided for the UTI and its programs and initiatives, in particular the Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr., Chair in African American Studies.
Commencement will by followed by a MayFest picnic and celebration on the seminary campus.
About the commencement speaker:
The Rev. Dr. Stanley N. Olson is President of Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, one of the eight seminaries, along with LTSP, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Dr. Olson began his service at Wartburg on January 1, 2011. From 2005 to his joining Wartburg Ceminary, Dr. Olson was Executive Director of Vocation and Education in the churchwide offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In this role he provided leadership for the church’s partnerships with its seminaries, colleges and universities, lifelong learning programs, outdoor and campus ministrys, as well as supporting young adult and youth ministries and guiding the ELCA candidacy program.
Dr. Olson served as the Executive Director of the Division for Ministry of the ELCA from 2002 to 2005. He also served as bishop of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA, senior pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota, and associate pastor of First Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minnesota. In the years between those parish calls, he served as an assistant professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dr. Olson was was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and raised on a farm near Eagle Grove, Iowa. He is a graduate of Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa, and St. Olaf College, an ELCA school in Northfield, Minnesota, and was awarded a Master of Divinity at Luther Seminary in 1972. He holds a doctorate from Yale University, where he wrote a dissertation on the New Testament. He is married to Nancy Olson, an ELCA Associate in Ministry who most recently served as Member Care Coordinator at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. She is an organist, and has served as a parish music director and on the staff of a synodical resource center. The Olsons are the parents of two adult daughters.
About the Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa, recipient:
The Rev. Dr. G. Daniel Jones is a tenured pastor, having served four congregations during his forty six year pastoral career, including two in Massachusetts and one in Virginia. For the last twenty nine years, he has been Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, Philadelphia, leading the congregation as it has grown theologically, programmatically, and fiscally, especially with respect to staff development, stewardship, missions, and outreach.
During his tenure, Dr. Jones has led Grace in being closely connected to The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Since 1991, Grace has hosted the annual inaugural worship of Preaching With Power. He became a member of the Urban Theological Institute Committee of Advisors (UTICA) in 1993, and served as UTICA Chair from 2003 until 2010. Dr. Jones has served as an adjunct Professor in Christian Education, and was the inaugural instructor in the Black Church certificate program offered by the UTI, teaching Church Administration. During Dr. Jones' UTICA chairmanship, the LTSP Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr., Chair in African American Studies, named the UTI endowed scholarship fund for the the late Rev. Joseph Q. Jackson, former pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Germantown, staffed two succeeding Directors of the UTI Program, and staffed the Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr., Associate Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics in African American Studies.
Dr. Jones remains a strong advocate for the mission of LTSP, and was named Chair Emeritus of UTICA. Grace Church thus far has made the largest cumulative financial gift of any local congregation toward funding the Wright, Sr., Chair in African American Studies. Dr. Wright was Pastor Jones' predecessor, having served Grace Church for 42 years. Grace Church also served as a host for the 25th and 30th Anniversary Celebrations of UTI, in 2005 and 2010 respectively.
Dr. Jones is also an adjunct professor of the Center for Urban Theological Studies, a division of Geneva College. As has been the case with LTSP/UTI during his present pastorate, while pastor in Virginia Dr. Jones served almost ten years as an instructor in the Evening College of Norfolk State University, and was a member of the Portsmouth School Board. During his Massachusetts's pastorates, he was a certified tenured secondary mathematics teacher in Plymouth County. Within Dr. Jones' denomination, The American Baptist Churches, USA (ABC USA), he is the former National President of the 6100 member Ministers Council, the ABC USA professional organization for ordained church leaders. Locally, he was the first President and principal organizer of two local ministers councils, the American Baptist Churches of the South and the American Baptist Churches of Philadelphia and Vicinity, known as the Philadelphia Baptist Association. He is also a former moderator of the Philadelphia Association, the oldest regional covenanted consortium of churches in the USA. He currently serves as Vice President of the Baptist Pastors and Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity, and is the long term Vice President of the Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia.
For over 20 years, Dr. Jones served as Vice Chair of the Baptist-sponsored Annual City Wide Revival. He was the first non-Lutheran Pastor/Clergy to serve on the Board of Directors of the now merged Germantown Lutheran Home, a local retirement complex. He contributed to the following publications:
- Women to Preach or Not to Preach. "Era", 1991, by Dr. Ella Mitchell;
- From Proclamation to Practice. "AIDS and the Stewardship of AID", 1993, by Dr. Clifford A. Jones, Sr.
- From One Brother to Another. "The African American Brother in the Context of Creation and Humanity". Vol. I, 1996, by the late Dr. Robert Johnson Smith, II and Reverend William J. Key, all published by Judson Press;
- Minister to Minister. 2001, a devotional guide published by the Ministers Council, ABC USA and more recently
- Rising From The Rails. 2004, by Larry Tye, published by Henry Holt and Co., LLC.
- American Baptist Quarterly. "Jubilee: To Free the Enslaved and Proclaim Liberty to the Captives", Vol. XVIII, March 1991. No.1
Dr. Jones is married to the former Ms. Geraldine Saunders, MSW (LCSW), and they are the parents of one son, Mr. Bryant Daniel Jones, BA, who is married to the former Ms. Dean Cameron.