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St. Olaf appoints interim college pastor

By Kari VanDerVeen
July 18, 2011

St. Olaf College has appointed the Reverend Ann Svennungsen to serve as interim college pastor for the upcoming academic year. She begins August 15.

Svennungsen will replace Bruce Benson, who retired this spring after a 30-year career as college pastor at St. Olaf. Associate Pastor Jennifer Koenig '87 will continue to serve the campus community in her current role.

A graduate of Concordia College and Luther Seminary, Svennungsen began her career as the first woman to serve as pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church in Iowa City, Iowa. She went on to serve congregations at Edina Community Lutheran Church in Edina, Minnesota; Beaver Creek Lutheran Church in Joice, Iowa; and Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Minnesota. During her service at Trinity, it was the largest ELCA church to be led by a female pastor.

Svennungsen has also served the broader church in such prominent roles as president and CEO of the Fund for Theological Education and as president of Texas Lutheran University. She is currently a resident scholar at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research and director of the Presidents' Pledge Against Global Poverty.

"We are lucky to have recruited an experienced Lutheran pastor, a gifted administrator, and a person knowledgeable and passionate about colleges of the church to minister to the St. Olaf community — especially to our students — and to help us prepare to welcome our new campus pastor at the end of the call process that will take place over the course of the next year," says President David R. Anderson '74.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or