Richard Gurgel started in his new role as president of Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., in July.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still in place, Gurgel is starting his MLC presidency at a unique time. One of his first responsibilities was working with a team to finalize a return-to-school plan. “Our top priority is providing the highest level of safety and confidence in our campus learning environment, while adhering to the spiritual and educational standards WELS expects from its college of ministry,” says Gurgel. But in a recent video message to students, he shares that he doesn’t want to be known for rules and regulations. “Rules are not the core of my being. What I hope you discover is that at the core of my being, by the power of the Spirit, is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.” (Watch the video at forwardinchrist.net/news.)
Richard and his wife, Sue, are no strangers to MLC. All five of their sons attended the college, the youngest graduating in 2020. “That provides my wife and me with a unique perspective of 17 years as MLC parents, making tuition and room and board payments to MLC and watching how our sons were blessed as they grew in Christian maturity on this campus. That viewpoint of almost two decades as an MLC parent provides a wonderful perspective for me to draw on as I begin my time as president,” says Gurgel.
Gurgel taught for 21 years at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis.; he became the first director of continuing education at the seminary in 2010. Before that he served as pastor at two congregations, Gethsemane, Oklahoma City, Okla., and David’s Star, Jackson, Wis. “Over the course of four decades of watching God at work where I have served, I have begun to grasp more just how much God’s gospel is accomplishing even when we seem to think that little is happening,” says Gurgel. “At the same time, I am learning to realize that too often we expect far too little from our God’s promises to bless the work of his gospel. He assures us that he can do immeasurably more than we can even think or imagine.”
Gurgel is excited to support and encourage the 181 faculty and staff serving at MLC. “A wise former MLC administrator advised me as I deliberated the call that the president of MLC is not the engine that makes MLC work. Under God’s blessing, that engine is made up of all the many gifted men and women serving at our college. The president, he said, is the oil that helps keep all the many parts of that engine running well,” says Gurgel. “In supporting and encouraging the many parts of the engine of MLC, I pray I can be just that God-given oil!”
Volume 107, Number 10
Issue: October 2020