Lydia Posselt is a shining example of a phrase familiar to Wartburg alumni, “a spirited expression of faith and learning.” As a student at Wartburg, Posselt was known to be a serious student, keenly curious, and fun-loving. Her nominator still remembers walking into the Wartburg Chapel once to find Posselt and her classmates trying out different liturgical traditions as a way to learn about them—the very definition of experiential learning. As a student, she was involved in campus ministry, Symphonic Band, and the Chapel choir.
Her calling to pastoral ministry first came while serving as a counselor at a Lutheran summer camp. After graduating with a degree in English from Wartburg College, Posselt went on to attend Luther Seminary and earned her Master of Divinity in 2011. She then served Lutheran congregations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and became a prominent supporter of the World Council of Churches’ “Thursdays in Black” initiative, which calls for an end to violence against women.
As a result of her leadership in the ELCA and tirelessly advocating for women in the ministry, justice, and diversity, Posselt was invited to preach at the 2017 Lutheran World Federation assembly in Namibia by an international jury spanning different generations of the Lutheran communion of churches. The event coincided with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The LWF wanted to feature on the world stage a talented young pastor to symbolize the fact that Martin Luther was 33 years old when he nailed the 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517.
“That Lydia was chosen to preach ‘the last word’ at this even is a recognition not only of her abilities as a preacher but also that hers is one of the faces of the future of the Lutheran Church,” wrote the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Kleinhans, former religion professor at Wartburg.
“She meets the four pillars of the college’s mission statement in a single sentence,” wrote her nominator, former Vogel Library Director Randall Schroeder ’82. “She has used her learning and faith by providing leadership and service to the ELCA and the world while serving her congregation. I believe she represents the best of what a Wartburg College education creates as its alumni go out into the world.”
Posselt recently moved from a congregation in Pennsylvania to become the pastor for evangelism and mission at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Vienna, Virginia, where she lives with her husband, Josh.