Baccalaureate, Organ Recital, and Commencement Ceremony

(Photo gallery below and at

Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW) is proud to announce that the class of 2022 has officially completed the requirements for their degree programs and are officially alumni of the Seminary.

The weeks leading up to commencement are always similar to those leading up to Call Day. Many passing conversations on campus revolve around the fact that this is “a busy time of year.” It may be busy and even challenging in the preparation, but it is a season of much excitement and great joy.

As Kantor Matthew Machemer said, “Graduation is an exciting time of the year here at CTSFW. The campus is bustling with friends and family who have come to celebrate the achievements of our students and the wonderful blessing they will be to their congregations. As a kantor for the Seminary, I always look forward to leading the church’s song with our students, professors, and staff, but to share these gifts with our ‘wider’ campus community is something truly rewarding. It’s a day to celebrate by doing what we do best: giving thanks to God for His wonderful gifts in Word and song, and enjoying the time of fun and fellowship!”

It certainly was a full day! At 10 a.m., the order of procession lined up for the first time with our crucifer torchbearers, graduates, area pastors, ordained Seminary staff, faculty academic dean board of regents, Seminary president, lectors, and the preacher officiant, while the pews filled with excited friends and family members in their Sunday best. The music was beautiful and appropriate for the spirit of the day, Using the parable of “The Good Samaritan,” the Rev. Joel R. Baseley examined what the term “neighbor” really means, that God is the ultimate Giver of all good things, and “you give nothing which you have not first received.”

Our larger community is known for its love of worship and beautiful music, so it was no surprise when a steady stream of people filed back into the chapel at 2:00 p.m. to enjoy the rare, intricate, challenging, and engulfing pieces in this year’s Organ Recital with Kantor Kevin J. Hildebrand. First, there was “Toccata on Victimae Paschali Laudes” by  Iain Quinn, then three pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach: “Sonata 6 in G Major,”  “Vivace Lento Allegro” (from the Canonic Variations on “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come”), “Variation 5, Canon in augmentation”  (in which the composer spells his name in his composition), and, lastly, “Prelude in C Major.” 

Kantor Kevin Hildebrand was the musician featured in this year’s Organ Recital. “The brief Organ Recital on graduation day is one of my favorite things to do. It allows me to share some good music with our friends and visitors on a special day, and to teach people what to listen for in these pieces to make them more enjoyable for the hearers.” Attendees were invited to sit in the sanctuary or up in the balcony to better hear and observe the performance. “This year’s recital includes a few examples of music that I learned over the past two years. During the pandemic, and especially the lockdown, I decided to make that time more productive by learning some major works I have never tackled during my career. The recital featured a Bach trio sonata, which is among the most technically demanding of Bach’s compositions, a fun variation of “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” where Bach even includes a musical spelling of his name in the music. Then something completely different—a 20th-century toccata on the Easter chant, “Christians to the Paschal Victim,” by a Welsh composer. The recital truly did have “a wide variety of styles and sounds even within a half-hour time slot.”

Then, at last, came the Commencement Ceremony at 4:00 p.m., and 673 people filled every available space. After the president’s welcome, the graduation address with the Reverend Juhana M. Pohjola, came the presentation of the Miles Christi awards—given to Bob and Nadine Mann (of Carsonville, Michigan), Herbert and Alvina Manz (of Simi Valley, California), and Jon and Judy Schumacher (of Brookfield, Wisconsin). Next was the presentation of the Alumnus of the Year award to the Reverend Lawrence A. Lieder (‘87). Then graduates of the class of 2020, who were unable to attend an in-person Commencement Ceremony (although IT did pull off a very nice virtual experience), were recognized, able to “walk across the stage” alongside this year’s graduates, shake hands with mentors and leaders, and have a hood placed over their heads and onto their shoulders. President Lawrence R. Rast Jr. officially closed the 176th academic year in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And what a powerful experience it was to have such a throng of joyful singers, including the signature strong and resonant voices of our seminarians, singing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” as graduates filed out of the chapel and effectively into the world.

Assistant Vice President of Advancement Michael Ritzman, a fairly recently acquired and greatly appreciated member of the CTSFW team, sees and appreciates all of the support that has enabled this day to come and these pastors and deaconesses go forth and bless the world. “For me, the best part about graduation day is seeing the families who attend the event. Throughout the formation process, we only see the individual; but on graduation day, we see the families that have been supporting their loved ones the entire time.” It does take a loving, faithful, generous body of believers to accomplish our mission. “I think of the brothers and sisters in Christ who are supporting and praying for the success of this institution. It takes every individual, working together, to make possible what we do here.”

“Concordia Theological Seminary exists to form servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all. That mission statement answers the ‘why’ question of ‘why do we exist?’ But the ‘how’ question is different. The answer to ‘how we do it?’ is through the prayers and financial support of our family of faith.” Always thinking of our donors and how important our relationship is to our mission, Ritzman also said, “I would like that spiritual family to be here to see the outcome of their support. I would tell them, ‘Thank you. You made this day possible, and CTSFW will continue doing this as long as you are able to help.’”

The ceremony and the refreshments to follow were a sea of smiling faces—embracing, posing for pictures, and shaking hands—while the children giggled and weaved their way in and out of the crowd. And so the sun set on a beautiful, warm, and windy day and on a chapter in the lives of these servants of the church. Please join us in thanking God and praying for them as they embark on their mission—to teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all.

See the bulletin and watch the service at

Below is the official listing of this year’s degrees and certificates conferred (and a few photos from the event:



Degrees Conferred May 20, 2022

Ibrahim F. Kipiki

Nzinyangwa K. Mkiramweni

Markus K. J. Snellman

Martin O. Torsvik


Degree to Be Conferred August 3, 2022

Haavard A. Evensen



Degrees Conferred August 4, 2021 

Clarion I. Fritsche

Christie L. Hansard

Karol R. Ketcher

Amanda M. Korthase

Emily J. McLean

Emilyann P. Wert


Degree Conferred November 12, 2021

Margaret S. Palm


Degrees to Be Conferred August 3, 2022

Pending completion of all academic work

Shirley J. Dashkevicz

LeAnn J. Gregoire

Melissa M. Harrington

Meghan A. Holst

Marissa E. Kroenke

Patti R. Miller

Megan L. Polzin

Jennifer L. Siukola

Linda G. Strubbe

Miriam S. Yakimow



Degree Conferred May 20, 2022

Matthew G. Carlson



Degree Conferred August 4, 2021 

Adam M. McDowell


Degrees Conferred May 20, 2022

Emmett A. Bartens

John C. Baseley

Adam P. Baumann

Timothy D. Benzinger

Joshua J. Brandmahl

Dane G. Breitung

Matthew J. Christian

Brennick T. Christiansen

Raymond B. Cox

Mark K. De Young

John M. Dolde

Joshua P. Dub

Matthew D. Goehring

Daniel L. Gray

Brendan G. Harris

Silas M. Hasselbrook

Nathaniel W. Konkel

Chase K. Lefort

Anthony B. Mandile IV

Austin D. Meier

Kyle S. Mullins

Kyle P. Nelson

Charles E. Nemec

Jordan R. Peiser

Aaron A. Schultz

Dylan T. Smith

Eric D. Souer

Timothy D. Steele II

Ethan E. Stoppenhagen

Christopher M. Walters

Aaron N. Wendorff

Nicholas K. Whitney

Nathan C. Widener

Jason B. Zoske


Degrees to Be Conferred August 3, 2022

Pending completion of all academic work

Mark J. Peters

Charles V. Shemwell

William J. Winter



Degree Conferred August 4, 2021

Gints Graundins


Degree Conferred February 25, 2022

Aaron A. Zimmerman


Degree Conferred May 20, 2022

Robert M. Hinckley, Jr.



Degree Conferred November 12, 2021 

Gavin M. Mize


Degrees Conferred May 20, 2022

Quintin M. Cundiff

James A. Elmore

Phillip M. Moldenhauer

Paul R. Schlueter

Gregory R. Truwe



Degrees Conferred May 20, 2022

Yonas Y. Dibisa

Chad D. Kendall

Richard C. Rudowske, Jr.


Degree to Be Conferred August 3, 2022

Tsegaye E. Rebu



Certificate Conferred August 4, 2021 

Stuart A. Sultze


Certificate Conferred February 25, 2022

Terrell L. Davis 


Certificate to Be Conferred August 3, 2022 

Pending completion of all academic work

Michael A. Mapus II



Soli Deo Gloria