Concordia pastors to leave
Concordia College's two campus pastors are leaving their positions Aug. 15. The Revs. Phil Holtan and Gretchen Person will spend a year on sabbatical, according to a campus-wide e-mail sent Thursday. Holtan said Friday it wasn't his choice to leave.
Concordia College's two campus pastors are leaving their positions Aug. 15.
The Revs. Phil Holtan and Gretchen Person will spend a year on sabbatical, according to a campus-wide e-mail sent Thursday.
Holtan said Friday it wasn't his choice to leave. He said he will remain on Concordia's payroll through May.
"I think the president (Pamela Jolicoeur) decided other people will be more able to take Concordia and campus ministries in new directions," Holtan said.
Holtan has been a campus pastor at the private Lutheran college for more than 22 years.
He started as an associate pastor in 1984 and became senior campus pastor in 1995.
Person has served as assistant campus pastor since August 1995. She did not return two phone messages left at her home Friday.
Their departure is the result of a formal review process of campus ministries, said Roger Degerman, senior director of communications and marketing. He wouldn't elaborate on the content of the review.
An interim pastor will be named and in place before classes resume in the fall, Degerman said. It is not known yet who the interim will be.
Holtan's wife, Merrie Sue Holtan, an assistant professor in the communication department, will teach full-time for the 2006-07 school year, she said.
On Thursday, Jolicoeur sent the e-mail announcing the pastors' Aug. 15 departure. She said they each will spend a "sabbatical year of discernment, study and exploration." She thanked them for their years of service to the college and students.
Jolicoeur was in Bemidji, Minn., Friday, attending an event at Concordia Language Villages. She did not immediately return a message left on her cell phone's voicemail.
Arland Jacobson, director of Concordia's CHARIS Ecumenical Center, said both Holtan and Person have made significant contributions to campus ministry. He described Person as a gifted musician, and said Holtan has carved a niche with the student mission trips he's led.
"It's been a remarkably successful program, in many ways I think it's the hallmark of his work here on the campus, and I think it's been widely appreciated by both students and faculty," Jacobson said.
Last school year, about 400 students and staff went on 17 mission trips, Holtan said, including 160 students in the fall who assisted with hurricane recovery in the Gulf Coast.
Holtan said he plans to volunteer for a couple weeks in the hurricane region. He also plans to spend time traveling, bicycling, kayaking and woodturning.
According to Jolicoeur's e-mail, farewell events are being planned for this fall.
"This has been a great place to work," Holtan said. "From the janitors to the students to everybody, this is a great community. I walk away still feeling that as strongly as ever.
"I'm feeling very confident in the future and embraced in God's hands," he said. "That's an OK place to be."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525