Introducing the President of Luther Classical College

It is with great pleasure and thankfulness to our gracious Lord that we write you today with a wonderful announcement:

Rev. Dr. Harold Ristau has officially accepted the call to serve as President of Luther Classical College. “The Board could not be happier,” writes Dr. Christian Preus, Chairman of the Board of Regents. “God has blessed us tremendously in sending Dr. Ristau to lead Luther Classical College. His record as faithful pastor, professor, administrator, and Lutheran confessor will serve LCC for years to come.”

Dr. Ristau has served the Church faithfully for over 20 years. A native Canadian, Dr. Ristau earned his MDiv. at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (CLTS) in St. Catherine’s, ON, in 2000. He holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Waterloo (1996) and a PhD in Religious Studies from McGill University (2007).

From serving as a parish pastor at an inner-city, multi-ethnic LCMS congregation in Montreal, including prison chaplaincy and ministry to refugees, and from the mission field with Chinese and Muslims in Canada to the mission field with Lutherans in Africa, Dr. Ristau has committed his life to proclaiming the gospel to the lost and using his unique gifts to serve the Church in challenging positions all over the globe. Dr. John Stephenson, retired professor at CLTS and former colleague of Dr. Ristau writes, “His confessional commitment, wide range of academic interests, challenging pastorates… and strong record as an educational administrator… equip him to discharge the daunting task of being spiritual, academic, and administrative head of Luther Classical College.”

In addition to his extensive service for Lutheran Church Canada (LC-C) and LC-MS ministries, Dr. Ristau also served honorably as a chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces in both English and French Canada for eleven years with the Air Force, Infantry, and paratroopers. Deployed to the Middle East on several occasions, soldiering alongside the U.S. Army and functioning as a first responder and crisis intervener, Dr. Ristau has been honored by the Canadian government and Chief of National Defense with one of their highest commendations for his work in Afghanistan.

Called as a professor at CLTS in 2017, Dr. Ristau led accreditation and recruitment efforts for the seminary. Two years ago, CLTS deployed Dr. Ristau to Lutherans in Africa in Kenya as missionary and Academic Dean at the Lutheran School of Theology.

A warm congratulatory statement from CLTS President, Rev. Dr. Thomas Winger, accompanies Dr. Ristau’s acceptance:

Dr. Harold Ristau Brings with him a huge range of experience from his pastoral ministry in Montreal, a decade as a Canadian Forces chaplain, seminary teaching in St. Catharines, and most recently giving his heart, head, and hands to pastoral formation in the mission field of Africa. His many publications in the field of pastoral theology demonstrate that he’s far more than just an academic. Luther Classical College will benefit from both his unshakable orthodoxy and his pastoral heart.

Dr. Ristau will begin his official duties at Luther Classical College in April 2024. “As an experienced pastor, educator, and soldier, President Ristau brings to our college the clarity of vision and boldness of confession that the church militant needs on the front lines,” says Academic Dean Dr. Ryan MacPherson.

The privilege of working with and/or alongside Dr. Ristau and his vision for Lutheran education belongs not only to the LCC Board and Faculty but is shared by our Lutheran institutions around the LC-MS. “I look forward to welcoming Dr. Ristau as a valued partner in the good and important work of providing faithful and flourishing confessional Lutheran higher education opportunities for the next generation,” says Dr. Bull, President of Concordia University, Nebraska (CUNE). “I see many promising possibilities for academic and other partnerships between Luther Classical College and Concordia University, Nebraska, and look forward to exploring those with Dr. Ristau in the future.” LCC and CUNE have recently signed an articulation agreement together in anticipation of future academic partnership.

Dr. Thomas Egger, President of Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, in sending his blessing, notes Dr. Ristau’s “strong reputation and a very impressive resume of publication and service in pastoral ministry, military chaplaincy, and theological education in multiple countries.” Congratulating Dr. Ristau and Luther Classical College, Dr. Egger adds, “The Lord provides!”

The Lord has provided abundantly for LCC through Dr. Ristau. We are thankful that He has provided much more than an academic, and even more than a faithful pastor. Besides his notable professional qualifications and experience, Harold will be a blessing to Luther Classical College as a devoted family man, a husband to his wife Elise, and a father to their five children: Katelyn, Simon, Marcus, Luke and Matthias. Katelyn was recently married and is expecting their first grandchild, and the younger children are homeschooled through a classical education program.

With heartfelt rejoicing, Dr. Stephenson notes that “the ordered piety and pattern of Christian life that Harold and Elise have instilled into their wonderful family of five children make them the sort of people into whose hands devout Lutherans will be happy to entrust the minds, souls, and overall well-being of their own offspring.”

From left to right: Harold, Elise, Simon, Luke, Katelyn, Mattias, Marcus

The Luther Classical College Board, administration, and staff are honored to welcome such a pious, devout, gifted, and accomplished man as Dr. Ristau to our institution. With deep gratitude for your generous support for our work, we ask that you add Dr. Ristau and family to your prayers for Luther Classical College, that he would remain faithful to his calling as a servant of our merciful Lord at LCC.

May God bless Dr. Ristau, Luther Classical College, and all our supporters who are helping to make this blessed cause a reality.