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Carl J. Lawrenz Collection

Identifier: B001
Records consist of documents relating to the overall work and mission of the life and ministry of President Carl Lawrenz. The scope of the collection mainly consists of documents and reports collected over the years of Lawrenz's ministry. The specific areas covered are rather extensive, but overall are covered by the first four categories that form the series: Personal essay file, doctrinal matters, intersynodical matters, and correspondence.


  • Majority of material found within 1928 - 1989

Language of Materials

Languages of materials in this collection are English and German.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


10 Box : 10 Record Boxes

Biographical / Historical

Carl J. Lawrenz was born on March 30, 1908, and grew up on the family farm located on the outskirts of Lomira, Wisconsin. Pastor R. Pietz of the town church baptized and confirmed him in the saving faith. In the interest of serving in the public ministry Carl entered Northwestern Preparatory School at Watertown, Wisconsin. He was graduated by Northwestern College in 1929. That fall he joined the first class to enroll at the new Mequon home of Wisconsin' Lutheran Seminary.

After his 1932 graduation Carl Lawrenz was assigned to North Fond du Lac's St. Paul Church. He served there until 1944, adding to his pastoral duties teaching assignments in the congregation's school. In a local pastors' study club Carl's special endowments came to the attention of Pastor G. E. Bergemann, former synod president and still chairman of the seminary's board. When in 1944 an Old Testament and education professor had to be added to the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary faculty, Carl Lawrenz received the call he held until his retirement in 1982. From 1957 until 1978, he served as president of the school, a time when it was expanding rapidly. While at North Fond du Lac in 1939, Carl married Irene Zabel who survives her spouse. The five children are: John (Phoebe), president of Michigan Lutheran Seminary; Kathryn (Duane) Weaver of Big Bend; David (Susan) of Toledo; Stephen (Lori), a missionary at Lusaka, Zambia; and Mary (Daniel) Schmal a teacher at St. Martin Lutheran school, Watertown, South Dakota. After his retirement Carl and Irene made their home in Lomira. At the place of his birth Carl was called home on October 14, 1989, at the age of 81 after a lingering cancer affliction. Funeral services were conducted on Tuesday, October 17, at St. John, Lomira, Pastor Nathan Retzlaff officiating. The committal was in the church cemetery adjacent to the church. A memorial service was held on Friday evening, October 20, at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary with Prof. Armin Schuetze, seminary president emeritus, preaching. WELS President Carl Mischke spoke on behalf of the synod, thanking God for a "faithful colleague and brother who so richly unfolded for us the pages of God's holy word." A circle encompassing the place names in this vita--Lomira, Watertown, Mequon, North Fond du Lac and then Mequon and Lomira again--would have a radius of only about 25 miles. But under God's providence the life lived there was to extend its influence far beyond the circle's border. Pastors, over 1200 of them, in whose training Professor Lawrenz played a large role as teacher and guide, fanned out during his Mequon years to parish posts all across the country. A good number, including son Stephen, became missionaries in those foreign fields to which the deceased especially devoted his concern. The opportunity to teach one term in the Lusaka seminary was one of the most cherished experiences of a long and notable professional life. From area high school and conference and district assignments Carl Lawrenz went on to membership and chairmanship on some of the most important commissions of the Wisconsin Synod. He served on and later headed the Commission on Inter-Church Relations during those crucial years in synodical history when the Synodical Conference split over doctrinal differences, when the Wisconsin and Missouri Synods parted company and when the Church of the Lutheran Confession came into being. Work on this commission also threw Carl Lawrenz into the trying and often disappointing effort to aid the cause of confessional Lutheranism in Europe and Africa. In addition to his service on the CICR, Carl Lawrenz served the church on the following boards: Winnebago Lutheran Academy board of control; WELS Board for Parish Education; WELS Board for Worker Training; and as contributing editor of the Northwestern Lutheran from 1946 to 1959. Such valuable theological leadership as under God Carl Lawrenz provided his synod, has been supplied by only a few men in the church body's long history. A predecessor in the seminary presidency, Adolph Hoenecke, comes to mind and not many others. Like Hoenecke a century ago, so Carl Lawrenz in his Mequon years was the man the synod invariably looked to for guidance in time of stress and conflict. Without fanfare and flourish Professor Lawrenz would firmly but evangelically apply to the particular problem his deep insights into God's revelation regarding Bible inerrancy, God-pleasing church fellowship, and the immutable will of God. The Lord God dealt graciously with the Wisconsin Synod when he gave it the half-century long gift of the services of Carl Lawrenz. Carl was a good pastor, a talented teacher, an able administrator, a sound theologian. We will sorely miss this clear expounder of Bible truth in pulpit and classroom, on the printed page of essay and periodical, and in the committee and faculty room. The church body can best show its gratitude for the gift by cherishing in remembering hearts the gospel truths Carl Lawrenz taught so long and so well.

Repository Details

Part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Archives Repository