The Rev. Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Folkemer, professor of systematic theology at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg from 1960-1985, died May 26th at the Gettysburg Lutheran Home, where he had resided the past few months. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 4 at 4:00 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church in Gettysburg, where Larry was a long-time member. Memorial gifts can be directed to the Seminary’s Folkemer Fund, launched to honor Larry’s and his brothers’ extraordinary family legacy of church leadership.
It is hard to express adequately Dr. Folkemer’s manifold contributions in the life of Gettysburg Seminary, the Church and broader public arena. While a parish pastor at Reformation Church on Capitol Hill in Washington, he began a journey of ecumenical and interfaith involvement, the impact of which continues to this day. He was a key founder of the religion department at George Washington University. During his quarter century of faculty service at the Seminary, Larry was on the “cutting edge” of interfaith dialogue; he was also one of the “driving forces” behind the formation of the Washington Theological Consortium.
Famous for his annual apple cider production (from trees on his personal property), Larry dedicated each year’s proceeds to the World Hunger Appeal, thereby telegraphing his commitments to the poor and hungry, themes which echoed in the classrooms here in Valentine Hall where he taught systematic theology to generations of seminarians.
On a personal note, I will miss Larry deeply as one of my chief encouragers, who always had a welcoming smile and warm handshake while sharing the peace at Christ Church or during his frequent visits to campus during his later years of retirement. When Kathleen Reed and I visited him earlier this spring at York Hospital, he expressed the hope of regaining strength sufficient to complete a final work of theology. A lifelong memory abides from his lecture on eschatology in our first-year systematics class nearly 40 years ago, when he demonstrated his gift for explaining complex matters of doctrine in simple language: “God has things up God’s sleeves that we ain’t seen the likes of yet!”
Blessed be the memory of this great saint of the Church and our Seminary!
The Rev. Michael Cooper-White, D.D., President