Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnson Largen


Gettysburg College and United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) will soon say goodbye to a chaplain and professor.

Early in 2021, Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnson Largen will become the 15th president of Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.

A graduate of the school she will soon lead, Largen said in her letter of acceptance that Wartburg “was so formative in shaping me as a pastor, a theologian, and a Christian.”

Founded in 1853, the Iowa seminary began as a teacher training school. In its early years it moved to two other locations in Iowa and Illinois, before returning to Dubuque in 1889.

One of seven seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Wartburg is known for a strong sense of community, excellent academic and spiritual formation, and commitment to the global church. In partnership with the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the school sponsors a satellite in Austin, Texas, for students preparing to serve in Latino ministries.

Largen said she plans to build on the school’s strong legacy and expand its outreach, which has grown as the seminary fields a robust program of online courses.

Largen, a Colorado native, earned a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She came to Gettysburg in 2006 as professor of systematic theology.

Through her work in interfaith perspectives, which includes numerous books and other publications, she has become an internationally-recognized theologian. She serves as editor of the theological journal, Dialog.

During the final years before Gettysburg Seminary consolidated with its Philadelphia counterpart to form United Lutheran Seminary, Largen served as its dean. She played a major administrative leadership role in helping the two schools come together.

Gettysburg College recognized Largen’s gifts and in 2017 entered a partnership with the seminary whereby she has served half-time as college chaplain and associate dean of religious and spiritual life.

Wartburg Seminary’s board chair, Dr. Steve Cornils, said in the school’s announcement of Largen’s selection, “Dr. Largen’s extraordinary qualifications, exemplary leadership gifts, and wide-ranging interests are evident in her devoted and distinguished service as a pastor, professor, seminary administrator, and scholar.”

United Lutheran Seminary’s new president, Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin, expressed the mixed emotions of the seminary community.

“I am delighted that Dr. Largen will be joining me in the group of ELCA seminary leaders as the new president of Wartburg Seminary,” Erwin said. “She is a great leader and a wonderful colleague. ULS’s loss is Wartburg’s gain.”

Largen’s spouse, Rev. John Largen, recently retired from ULS where he served as adjunct faculty, dean of the chapel, and in several other administrative roles. The couple plans to maintain homes both in Gettysburg and Dubuque.

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