Former Bishop of the ELCA to speak at Bethany Commencement

The Reverend Dr. Floyd M. Schoenhals, retired bishop of the Arkansas-Oklahoma synod  of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and former Bethany College board member, will address the graduating class of 2011 during Bethany College commencement ceremonies on May 22 at 2 p.m. The Reverend P. Kempton Segerhammar will preach during baccalaureate worship at 10:30 a.m.

Schoenhals served as Bishop for the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod, ELCA, from 1994 until his retirement on February 1, 2011. Schoenhals earned his bachelor’s degree from Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne, Ind., and his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. He was ordained in 1966. Bethany College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1997. In December 2010, the Oklahoma Conference of Churches presented him with its Distinguished Award for Outstanding Leadership in Christian Ecumenism and Interfaith Engagement.

Before the formation of the ELCA, Schoenhals was the vice president of the American Lutheran Church central district. He has also previously served as the pastor of congregations in Tulsa and Shawnee, Okla., and Marrero, LA., and as a member on numerous executive boards of faith-based institutions.  Schoenhals has also participated in the Lutheran-Episcopal coordinating committee and various Christian ecumenical relationships and interfaith dialogs.

Segerhammar was in the Bethany class of 1966, making him the sixth in his immediate family to attendBethany College. His mother Ruth Gustafson was in the class of 1928, his father Carl in 1929, his sisters Kathleen Hurty and Kathryn Swanson in 1955, and his sister Reverend Karen Parker in 1962.  Hurty is a former Bethany Board of Directors member, and Swanson is a former Bethany Alumni Council member. Parker and Hurty both received Bethany alumni Awards of Merit in 1996 and 1999, respectively. Parker also was selected as Bethany’s baccalaureate speaker in 1991, when she was a pastor in Englewood, Colo., and in 2004, when she was the assistant to the bishop in the Pacifica Synod. The Segerhammars established an endowed scholarship at Bethany College in memory of their parents, Carl and Ruth, and also assisted in establishing an endowed chair in sacred music.

Segerhammar also attended the University of California and graduated from California Lutheran University. He received his Master of Divinity from the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif. Segerhammar was ordained in 1972 and served his first parish in Denver, Colo. He has been the pastor for numerous churches in Colorado, California, and Washington and served abroad for an English-speaking congregation in Stockholm, Sweden. He currently serves a parish in Palo Alto, Calif.