Rev. Dr. Jacob A. O. Preus II (1920-1994)


Jacob Aall Ottesen Preus Jr. January 8, 1920-August 13, 1994) came from a long line of Lutheran preachers, though his father, "Jake" (Jacob Aall Ottesen Preus [August 28, 1883-May 24, 1961]) was a well-known Republican politician in Minnesota. The elder Preus served as the state auditor (1915-1921), then as the governor (1921-1925), after which he moved to Chicago and helped form Lutheran Brotherhood, now part of Thrivent... Jack himself attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, graduating in 1941, and there met his future wife, Delpha Mae Hollecue. He then entered Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, from which he graduated in 1945. His experience, however, was not a positive one, and he chose to seek ordination in the Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church (familiarly known as the "Little Norwegian Synod," which took the name Evangelical Lutheran Synod [ELS] in 1957). He served congregations in Minnesota, as well as serving on the staff at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. By 1951 he had earned a doctorate in Classics at the University of Minnesota. Gifted in other ways, he quickly emerged as a leader in the Norwegian Synod. Jack received a call to teach Greek and New Testament at Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois, in 1958. Preus was named the acting president in the winter of 1962 and later that same year he was chosen as Springfield's tenth president. In 1969, Preus was elected president of the Missouri Synod, ousting incumbent Oliver Harms. In 1973-74, a battle over teachings at the Missouri Synod's flagship seminary, Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, resulted in the suspension of the president of Concordia Seminary, John Tietjen, and a walkout of seminary professors and students to form a seminary, commonly referred to as Seminex. In his retirement, Jack worked on fundraising for a new chapel on the St Louis campus. He also completed a biography of Chemnitz that proved to be popular. Further, he remained involved in certain theological disputes and continued to appear at synodical conventions. He was named President Emeritus of the Missouri Synod in 1992. Jacob A.O. Preus died on August 13,1994, and is buried in Concordia Cemetery in St. Louis. -- Biography excerpted from: Rast, Lawrence R, Jr. "J.A.O. Preus: theologian, churchman, or both?." Concordia Theological Quarterly 74, no. 1-2 (January 1, 2010): 57-73.


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