President Rick Barger

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I am audacious enough to believe that Trinity Lutheran Seminary could be one of North America’s very finest centers for theological education and could be truly great—with greatness being defined by the character and qualities of the leaders it produces and the life-giving conversation with the greater church and the world it fosters.

--President Rick Barger


“I have always had a deep love for Trinity and I want to see the seminary excel, not for Trinity’s glory but for the sake of the world.” - President Rick Barger

The Rev. Dr. Robert C. “Rick” Barger began his term as president of Trinity Lutheran Seminary on September 1, 2013. He is a 1989 graduate of Trinity and has served as the pastor of three congregations, most recently Epiphany Lutheran Church in Suwanee, Georgia. Prior to his call to Epiphany in 2008, he served for 15 years as the lead pastor at Abiding Hope Lutheran Church in Littleton, Colo., and four years as pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Apollo Beach, Fla.

Dr. Barger earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in construction engineering and management. He entered seminary with 12 years of international executive experience, focused primarily in the Middle East.

During his pastoral ministry Dr. Barger supervised 13 of Trinity’s former interns and taught on Trinity’s campus. He is the author of A New and Right Spirit: Creating an Authentic Church in a Consumer Culture and has a passion for developing “authentically transformational leaders.” Since he began his presidency at Trinity, he has led Trinity through significant changes in academia, contextual education, organizational structure, congregational partnerships, and governance that repositions Trinity as a premier seminary in the formation of authentic-servant leaders for God’s mission in the world.

Inspired by a trip to Haiti in 1997, he founded and now serves as chair of the Haitian Timoun Foundation, a grassroots consortium that invests in the development and self-sustainability of the youth and children of Haiti.

Dr. Barger is married to Harriet Hart Barger. They have two grown children, Robert and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren.

Educational Background

D.Min. San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California
M. Div. Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio
M.S. Construction Engineering and Management, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
B.S. Civil Engineering – Construction Option, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Pastoral Leadership

  • 2008-2013. Lead Pastor, Epiphany Lutheran Church, Suwanee, Georgia. Chartered in 1998 as a new mission start of the ELCA. Envisioned and completed a building expansion project to better reach the community and to sacredly form all from cradle to grave.
  • 1993-2008. Lead Pastor, Abiding Hope Lutheran Church, Littleton, Colorado. Led church through a three-fold increase in worship attendance, making it the second newest congregation among the ELCA's eighty largest. Was recognized by a Lilly Endowment-funded study as one of fifty mainline congregations that are "good news" in North America. Established a second campus in Highlands Ranch and a multi-site, growing presence in India. Successfully completed two major expansion/building projects. During his tenure, Abiding Hope was recognized for excellence in outreach, indigenous Lutheran worship, asset-development in children and adolescents, and for transformational leadership development of interns/residents.
  • 1989-1993. Pastor, Calvary Lutheran Church, Apollo Beach, Florida. Oversaw a three-fold increase in average weekly worship and the construction of a new worship center.

Missional Leadership

  • Founder and former Executive Director of the Haitian Timoun Foundation, a US 501(c) 3 public charity supported and funded by a collection of mainly ELCA congregations nationwide, US and multi-national corporations, and individuals. The mission of the foundation is to create a future of hope, sustainability, and dignity for the children of Haiti. In 2010 following the earthquake, the US Peace Corps named HTF as one of five organizations they recommended as best positioned to wisely spend resources at a grassroots level. HTF has also been recognized for its groundbreaking work eradicating extreme poverty in the Central Plateau.
  • Currently serving on the Emory University Board of Visitors.
  • Currently serving on the Southeastern Synod Stewardship Task Force.
  • Serves as consultant with congregations and other groups, a speaker at conferences all around the country, teacher, and mentor. Has taught on Trinity Lutheran Seminary’s campus and was invited to address the 2008 gathering of the ELCA’s Academy of Teaching Theologians on the topic of “Teaching Lutheran Theology Missionally.”
  • Founder of the Abiding Hope Academy for Adaptive Leadership and Spiritual Formation.
  • Served for twelve years on the board of Lutheran Family Services of Colorado.
  • Founder and President for thirteen years of Parents and Community Connecting Together, a Jefferson County, Colorado based non-profit with a mission of bringing wellness to children and adolescents through developmental assets. This initiative was the catalyst for a multi-million dollar statewide initiative.
  • Served on the founding board of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of Florida.


  • A New and Right Spirit: Creating an Authentic Church in a Consumer Culture, a 2005 Alban Institute bestseller.
  • "Witness to the Resurrection: A Theological and Biblical Symbol for Preparing Baby Boomers for Membership in the Growing, Lutheran, Suburban Congregation" Dissertation
  • Also a published author of many articles and reviews