Concordia celebrated the generosity of its donors at its annual Thank You Celebration on March 19, 2016, in Janzow Campus Center’s Cattle Conference Room on campus. During the event, Concordia presented Dr. Gene and Linda (Luebbe) Lehr of St. Louis, Missouri, with its Sower Award, which recognizes prolonged and significant service or giving to the university and is Concordia’s premier philanthropic award.
Vice President for Institutional Advancement Kurth Brashear welcomed those in attendance, saying, “Tonight we gather to celebrate and give glory to God for you, Concordia’s faithful, generous supporters—her champions,” said. “Concordia’s 2,600 students, faculty and staff have indeed been blessed abundantly through your commitment, your prayers, your generosity and your encouragement. Thank you!”
After opening comments by Brashear, a brief video thanked those in attendance for their support of Concordia students and the university’s mission to equip men and women to learn, serve and lead in the church and world. The video, “We Celebrate You,” is available for viewing on the Concordia University, Nebraska YouTube channel: youtube.com/concordianebraska.
Next, Concordia junior T.J. Austin of Angleton, Texas, thanked the donors on behalf of all Concordia students for their generosity. Austin, captain of the Bulldogs football team, is pursuing degrees in elementary education and behavioral science. He participates in “Bulldog Buddies,” a program that brings players into area classrooms to read to children, and “Borrow a Bulldog,” an opportunity for athletes to help members of the Seward community with household tasks. Austin plans to teach kindergarten and pursue a master’s degree and then open an orphanage or shelter facility to provide housing for children and programs for single parents in need of opportunities for business education or work experience.
“As I’ve gone through my three years here at Concordia, I have experienced a number of things that I would have never gotten a chance to had I not gotten the opportunity to attend this university,” said Austin. “You all have definitely made a huge impact on me. Thank you.”
President Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich addressed the guests, thanking them for their support of the university and its students: “The impact of your generosity is changing the church and world through Concordia students. Thanks to your support, students are equipped by an education built on a foundation of faith in Christ Jesus. They discover the vocation to which God is calling them. They become leaders who make a positive impact in the communities, businesses, classrooms and congregations in which they serve.”
Friedrich then presented the 2016 Sower Award to the Lehrs, saying, “One of the great joys of this event is to celebrate the impact people like you have on Concordia’s students, faculty and staff, and through them the church and world. Tonight it is our joy and privilege to thank and celebrate a faithful couple who have supported Concordia’s mission with their prayers and generosity for decades.”
The Lehrs have provided prolonged and significant service to Concordia University, Nebraska, as well as generous support through gifts and prayers.
Gene and Linda, long-time residents of St. Louis, Missouri, have a passion for Lutheran education and equipping students to learn, serve and lead in the church and world. Their gifts to Concordia have impacted countless students over their many years of involvement. It is an honor to recognize their partnership and humble generosity with the 2016 Sower Award.
Linda, a native of Seward County, grew up on her parents’ nearby farm. She says her experience with Concordia has always been “totally positive.” Gene’s connection to Concordia grew mostly through Linda, and he thinks very highly of the university and its leadership throughout the years.
From early on, the Lehrs were drawn to Concordia’s commitment to prepare workers for the church. They have consistently and generously supported Concordia’s church work programs through scholarships, as well as personal support and encouragement to students. They are also strong supporters of Concordia Seminary and their congregation, Holy Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis.