St. Olaf mourns death of associate college pastor

Posted on Sep 23 2013 - 10:31pm by Guest Writer

By St. Olaf Media Relations

Jennifer Koenig, former pastor at St. Olaf college, passed away after a long battle with cancer on Sept. 20. St. Olaf will hold a memorial service for her on Sept. 28.

Jennifer Koenig, former pastor at St. Olaf College, passed away after a long battle with cancer on Friday. St. Olaf will hold a memorial service for her on Saturday.

The Rev. Jennifer Anderson Koenig ’87, who served as associate college pastor at St. Olaf for more than 15 years before going on medical leave in April 2012 to focus on treatments for brain cancer, died on Friday.

The funeral will be held in St. Olaf College’s Boe Memorial Chapel on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Visitation will be held in Buntrock Commons on Friday from 3-7 p.m.

St. Olaf and PLU are sister schools along with 24 other ELCA Colleges and Universities. They are the only two ELCA colleges and universities to have a student congregation recognized by the ELCA.

Koenig served in parish ministry in Iowa before coming to St. Olaf in 1997. She described the St. Olaf position as her “dream call,” and devoted herself to leading campus worship, preaching and counseling students.

“One of her greatest strengths was her sincere willingness to sit down and have a meaningful conversation at any time with anyone,” Bruce Benson, a longtime colleague of Koenig and a retired college pastor, said. “She took a genuine interest in people’s lives, and that endeared her to so many.”

Koenig also worked with a variety of departments across campus, from the arts to the sciences. One of the spaces in Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences is named in her honor as a gift from parents of a former student.

A dance major at St. Olaf, Koenig choreographed and performed for three years with the professional modern dance company Ballet Harren. She went on to serve three more years on the dance and fine arts committee at Luther Seminary, where she earned her master of divinity degree in 1994.

Active in the community as well as on campus, Koenig mentored high school students through a local project and helped lead the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Malaria Campaign.

Her CaringBridge site details her battle with cancer.

Article originally published on Sept. 20 on the St. Olaf college website. Reprinted with permission.