Trinity Lutheran Seminary Names New President

The Rev. Dr. Rick Barger to Lead Trinity Lutheran Seminary

rick harriet
Harriet and Rick Barger

The Trinity Lutheran Seminary Board of Directors approved the nomination of the Rev. Dr. Rick Barger as the next president of Trinity Lutheran Seminary during its meeting on May 6. A board-appointed Presidential Search Committee had submitted his name for approval following an extensive search this spring.  

Barger, who will begin his term on September 1, 2013, is a 1989 graduate of Trinity and currently serves as the lead pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Suwanee, Georgia. He succeeds the Rev. Dr. Mark R. Ramseth, who retired in January after 12 years of service. Dr. Thomas E. Ludwig, a former Trinity board member and professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Mich., has been serving as interim president since February 1.

Prior to his call to Epiphany in 2008, Barger 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. 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.” He is frequently called on to speak at church conferences and seminary campuses, to write for online and print journals, and consult with seminary faculty and congregational leaders.

“He has demonstrated effectiveness as an administrative leader, both in parish ministry and in his first career in business. He understands how to raise funds and do development work, and also has the ability to motivate others to give and serve,” said Melissa Peper Firestone, chair of the Trinity Board of Directors.

Barger, who holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in construction engineering and management, is a “second career” pastor with 12 years of international executive experience, focused primarily in the Middle East. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary with his dissertation titled, “Witness to the Resurrection: A Theological and Biblical Symbol for Preparing Baby Boomers for Membership in the Growing, Lutheran, Suburban Congregation.”

“Pastor Barger articulates an authentic vision of the church grounded in the crucified and risen Christ within a context of globalization and religious pluralism, as well as affluent American suburbia,” said Dr. Brad Binau, Academic Dean.

During his tenure at Abiding Hope, Barger was recognized for excellence in outreach and asset development in children and adolescents. In 1999, he and the members of Abiding Hope were in the thick of the healing of the Littleton community after the Columbine High School shootings. In more recent years, he has served as founder and executive director of the Haitian Timoun Foundation, a grassroots consortium that invests in the development and self-sustainability of the youth and children of Haiti. Following the 2010 earthquake, the United States Peace Corps named the Hatian Timoun Foundation as one of five organizations they recommended as best positioned to wisely spend resources at a grassroots level.

“Everywhere I have been I have been a change agent,” Barger told members of the Trinity community during a recent visit.

“I am not conventional. I believe in visioning, and I believe we need to be creative,” he added.

He has supervised 13 of Trinity’s former interns and taught on Trinity’s campus in the past.

“I have always had a deep love for Trinity and want to see the seminary excel,” he said. “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.”

Barger is married to Harriet Hart Barger. They have two grown children, Robert and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren. The Bargers plan to reside in a seminary-owned home on Sheridan Avenue in Bexley.