Augsburg News

News Archives - 2002

Rev. Mark S. Hanson to receive Honorary Degree from Augsburg College

May 18, 2002

Augsburg College will award the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Presiding Bishop, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, during commencement ceremonies at the College on Sunday, May 19, 1:30 p.m. Melby Hall.

Bishop Hanson, who is a 1968 graduate of the College and the immediate past Bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod, will be only the second honorary degree recipient in the history of the institution. The College awarded its first honorary degree in 2000 to Congressman Martin Sabo, who also is an Augsburg alumnus.

"Mark has exemplified Augsburg's educational mission in his pastoral work and in his leadership of the Church," commented President William V. Frame. "He has brought a profound theology to the service of the City and a graceful courage to the inclusion of wide diversity in the Christian communion."

A native of St. Paul, Hanson earned his Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York where he was a Rockefeller Fellow. He was ordained in 1974. He went on to further study at Luther Seminary and Harvard University Divinity School where he was a Merrill Fellow. Prior to becoming bishop of the St. Paul Synod, he served as pastor at three Twin Cities'-area churches -- Prince of Glory Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis; Edina Community Lutheran Church in Edina; and University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis.

Hanson, who was elected to his current post in 2001, is the third Presiding Bishop of the ELCA and the second Augsburg graduate to hold that position. The Rev. Herbert Chilstrom, now retired, was elected the ELCA's first presiding bishop in 1987.

Graduation ceremonies will be held at Augsburg beginning at 1:30 p.m. This year's commencement speaker is James A. Johnson, vice chairman of Perseus L.L.C., a merchant banking and private equity firm based in Washington, DC, and New York City, and past chair and CEO of Fannie Mae.

View the video documentary on the life of Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. The video includes interviews with Rev. and Ione Hanson.

Biography of Rev. Mark Hanson

Rev. Mark HansonBorn in Minneapolis on Dec. 2, 1946, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson graduated from Minnehaha Academy in 1964, and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Augsburg College in 1968. He was a Rockefeller Fellow at Union Theological Seminary 1968-69, received his master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1972, attended Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., 1973-74, and was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard University Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., in 1979.

Ordained in 1974, Hanson served as pastor at Prince of Glory Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, 1973-79; Edina Community Lutheran Church, Edina, Minn., 1979-88; and University Lutheran Church of Hope, Minneapolis, 1988-1995. He began serving as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1995, and had been reelected to a second term as synodical bishop prior to his election as presiding bishop of the ELCA in 2001.

Hanson serves on the executive council of the Lutheran World Federation and the executive board of the National Council of Churches. He was president of the Minnesota Council of Churches from 1998-2000. At the time of his election as presiding bishop, he was serving as vice chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. He is author of Faithful Yet Changing: The Church in Challenging Times (Augsburg Fortress Books).

Hanson served on the Augsburg College Board of Regents and was president of the Augsburg College Alumni Association. He is past president of the Metropolitan Interfaith Council of Affordable Housing board and served on the board of Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches.

Ione (Agrimson) Hanson is director of social work at Minneapolis and St. Paul Children's Hospitals. The Hansons are the parents of Aaron, Alyssa, Rachel, Ezra, Isaac and Elizabeth, and grandparents to Naomi.

View the Winter 2001-02 edition of the Augsburg Now for additional information on Rev. Mark Hanson.