Martin Luther College welcomes new president

Photo courtesy of Martin Luther College Rev. Richard Gurgel has arrived at Martin Luther College in New Ulm to serve as president of the college. He replaces President Mark Zarling, who retired in June.

NEW ULM — Martin Luther College announcesthe arrival of its new president, Rev. Richard Gurgel.

President Gurgel replaces President Mark Zarling, who retired this past June after serving the college from 2007 to 2020.

Gurgel brings to the office an M.Div. from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (Mequon, Wis.) and a D.Min. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Illinois) as well as decades of experience in both ministerial education and parish ministry.

Gurgel began his ministry as the pastor of two WELS parishes: Gethsemane in Oklahoma City (1986-1992) and David’s Star in Jackson, Wisconsin (1992-1998). Then he served as a professor at his alma mater, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, where future WELS pastors complete their ministerial training.

At various times from 1999 to 2020, he taught Christian education, homiletics (preaching), and Christian doctrine. He also established the Grow in Grace Institute, the continuing education arm of the seminary.

Gurgel and his wife, Sue, also have 18 years of experience as MLC parents. Their five boys all graduated from the college he is now leading.

It is through these three lenses — pastor, professor, and parent — that Gurgel views the work ahead of him.

His goals include decreasing student debt (a problem at colleges across the nation), updating the college’s aging facilities and infrastructure, and maintaining the educational excellence MLC provides to the future pastors, teachers, and staff ministers enrolled.

“Without claiming that we have the perfect worker training system in the WELS,” he said, “we have many reasons to give thanks for the careful and thorough training we expect that the next generation of our pastors, teachers, and staff ministers will receive. Since almost every future called worker in our synod is part of the MLC family at some point, MLC is a pivotal part of maintaining that careful and thorough training. A rich heritage has been handed down to us, and now is our time to pass that on to others.”


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