Monday Moments with President Bergman: February 10, 2020

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College employees each week.
Posted on February 10th, 2020 by

Rev. Dr. Herbert Chilstrom

Rev. Dr. Herbert Chilstrom

Over the last few weeks, my thoughts have been with the family of my dear friend Rev. Dr. Herbert Chilstrom, the first-ever bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), who passed away on January 19. As many of you know, Herb and his wife, Corinne, spent much of their retirement in Saint Peter and especially enjoyed volunteering on campus and in the community.

I first learned of Rev. Dr. Chilstrom in 1988 when the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches combined to form the ELCA as we know it today. Rev. Chilstrom, who had served as bishop of the Minnesota synod of the LCA, was elected as the first presiding bishop of the 5.2 million ELCA members. My father was a pastor and bishop in Pennsylvania, and he spoke highly of Rev. Chilstrom’s thoughtful leadership as the newly-formed Church came together to chart a new path.

I learned later that Rev. Chilstrom had previously served as the pastor at First Lutheran Church in Saint Peter, which led to his return after his retirement. He served on the Gustavus Board of Trustees, led the Linnaeus Arboretum as interim director for a year, and was a regular volunteer gardener at the Borgeson Cabin. I am struck by how fortunate we were to have such an accomplished and faithful leader among us, and also how humble Herb was as he quietly went about his good work. Please take a look at this Star Tribune article, which explains more about his life and ministry.

This Saturday, February 15, we will celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Chilstrom with a worship service in Christ Chapel at 1 p.m. Herb’s family invites each of us as Gustavus employees to the on-campus memorial service as ELCA presiding bishop Elizabeth Eaton, former presiding bishop Mark Hanson, Southwest Minnesota Synod bishop Jon Anderson, and more than a hundred clergy join together to memorialize this wonderful man.

The fact that Herb chose to live in Saint Peter and serve at Gustavus is a testament to our living connection with the ELCA, and his memorial service will be an opportunity to share our gratitude for his leadership and vision.

This week, let us consider what it means to be rooted in the Lutheran Church and open to the world in all its diversity, and join together in celebrating the life Rev. Dr. Herb Chilstrom.

Until next week, keep up the good work, Gusties!

With respect,



Comments are closed.