Mr. Gary DeSha graduated from the Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT) with a Pastoral Ministry Certificate on Sunday, August 26th, at Living Word Lutheran Church, Alexandria, MN. He has attained to all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that are accorded his new certificate. The Rev. Timothy J. Swenson, Dean of Chapel at ILT, presided at the graduation ceremony and delivered the certificate to the newly graduated DeSha. Pastor A. J. Kluver hosted the ceremony during Sunday morning worship. The congregation members of Living Word were attentive and receptive participants in the graduation ceremony. Many thanks to Pastor Kluver and the Living Word congregation for all the hospitality they extended to ILT and its graduating student.
The newly graduated DeSha came to Lutheranism through a life-long path of discernment. He received God’s call to be a gospel minister in 1973, at age 19, during a service at his home congregation, a Baptist church. The sermon text was Joshua 1:8-10. Gary’s discernment was ratified in discussion with his pastor. But life intervened. He continued to be strong and steady in the study of God’s Word; served twenty-two years as a Chaplain’s Assistant in the US Military. After leaving the military, he journeyed through churches of the Calvinist tradition, the Episcopal tradition, and the Russian Orthodox. Sadly, his wife died and after grieving some years, Gary married Sue. They moved to Alexandria and Gary became acquainted with Lutheranism and began to study Martin Luther. There, in Luther’s writings, he discovered the gospel preaching he could make in season and out of season. That preaching flowed from the pages of Scripture and the writings of Paul the Apostle, a preaching of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone.
DeSha becomes the twenty-eighth graduate to earn the Pastoral Ministry Certificate and the sixtieth overall graduate of the Institute of Lutheran Theology. ILT achieved accreditation from the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) in February of 2018. By ABHE standards, ILT achieved one hundred three enrolled students in the 2017/2018 school year. Of the accredited Lutheran seminaries in North America, ILT—after only ten years—has a larger enrollment than seven seminaries decades older.
The Institute of Lutheran has programs which prepare candidates for pastoral ministry and it has academic programs to enhance the pastoral skills and theological acumen of those already in the ministry or those just wanting to be more useful in the congregation. ILT’s graduate school prepares pastors with its Master of Divinity degree; and its certificate school prepares potential pastors with a Pastoral Ministry Certificate. Likewise, its graduate school provides Master of Arts in Religion, a Master of Sacred Theology, and a Doctor of Ministry degrees. The certificate school helps congregation members be more useful through its Faith and Life Certificate; its Youth and Family Certificate, and its Bethel Bible Series certificate.