The Graven Award is funded by the Judge Henry N. and Helen T. Graven Endowment for The Ministry of the Laity: The Church in the World and goes to a person “whose life is nurtured and guided by a strong sense of Christian calling and who is making a significant contribution to community, church and society.”
Judge Henry N. and his wife, Helen T. Graven, were lay people from Greene, Iowa, who made significant contributions to the church, including the outline for the first pension plan for workers of the church. Mr. Graven, a federal Judge in Iowa, along with his brother, did much of the legal work in the combining of three separate Wartburg College sites into one.
Judge Henry N. Graven was a man of impeccable legal judgment who had a distinguished law career spanning nearly half a century. His professional contributions to the church provide a lasting model for lay involvement. A 1921 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, he practiced law in Green until he was named judge of the Iowa District Court in 1937. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him federal district judge in 1944, and he served in that capacity until 1961, when he became a senior federal judge.
Helen served for 14 years on the Wartburg College Board of Regents, happily arguing positions that were not easily accepted at the time. In 1987, the Wartburg College Alumni Association honored her for her contributions to the college and to her community. After her husband’s death, she continued active service to the church and her community in Minneapolis until her death in 1995.