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Dr. LeRoy Aden, Emeritus Professor who taught Pastoral Care 30 years at LTSP, has died

Prof. LeRoy AdenThe Rev. Dr. LeRoy H. Aden, the Luther D. Reed Emeritus Professor of Pastoral Care at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) for nearly 30 years, died December 3, 2015, after a brief illness. He lived in Atlanta, Georgia, in retirement. His wife, the former Ruth Meyer, a long-time teacher at Germantown Academy (just outside of Philadelphia) before retiring, predeceased Dr. Aden earlier this year.

LTSP president Dr. David J. Lose remembered, “I knew Dr. Aden while a student at LTSP and found him always to be an exceptionally caring teacher both in and out of the classroom. A generation of leaders was touched by his clear thinking and graceful living. His scholarship and teaching were very much appreciated, but his willingness to walk with students and congregational leaders through challenges great and small was what really set him apart.”

Aden’s specialization was teaching about pastoral care, as reflected in several books he wrote including Preaching God’s Compassion: Comforting Those Who Suffer (Fortress Press, 2002), which he co-authored with the Rev. Dr. Robert G. Hughes, then LTSP president and historically a teacher of preaching at the seminary. Aden counseled many seminarians at LTSP, and was greatly shaped by his experience in parish ministry leading up to his joining the seminary faculty. From 1956 to 1959, he was counseling minister at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. He served in the same capacity for Chicago’s Bryn Mawr Community Church from 1959 to 1963. Following his ordination by the Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia Synod of the LCA in 1965, he was called as associate pastor at First Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1965-1967), and directed the congregation’s Pastoral Counseling Center. While serving Bryn Mawr Community Church, he also served as Instructor and then Assistant Professor at The Divinity School, The University of Chicago (1959-1965), joining the LTSP faculty in 1967 as Associate Professor of Pastoral Care. He retired from LTSP in 1994.

“LeRoy Aden was a wonderful colleague in many ways, and he and Ruth were really down to earth people,” Robert Hughes recalled. “When I was doing my dissertation in the general area of death and dying and funeral preaching, he offered to team-teach a course we titled ‘Ministry and Death’ where I could try out some of my ideas and he could hone some lectures that later became a book. We later used the same process, a team-taught course, to prepare for writing Preaching God’s Compassion.

“On behalf of the Dean and the faculty, LeRoy agreed to be the person to counsel students with ‘issues’ of various kinds,” Hughes remembered. “He did most of that work in his home office when he lived at the seminary. In general, LeRoy and Ruth were generous in opening their home to students. He regularly supervised a student small group, which met in his home. As a faculty member, he and Ruth were most faithful in following up on students he advised, often traveling to their ordinations and installations.

Ruth & LeRoy Aden

Ruth & LeRoy Aden

“When the Adens purchased a farm north of Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they lived before moving south after retiring, LeRoy relaxed by working on the land and the home,” Hughes continued. “He was handy with a hammer and paintbrush, and, if I recall correctly, they did some planting as well. LeRoy was also particularly knowledgeable regarding finances and investments and served many years as the faculty representative on the Board of Trustees’ finance committee.”

Aden graduated from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, in 1951 with a BA. He received a Bachelor of Divinity in 1954 from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He was awarded his MA in 1956 by the Federated Theological Faculty of The University of Chicago and received his PhD in 1961 from The Divinity School at The University of Chicago. In 1965 he did postgraduate work in Existential Psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

While teaching at LTSP, his professional associations included serving as President, Eastern Region, for the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (1970-1977).

He was the author of many articles and several books in addition to Preaching God’s Compassion. With J. Harold Ellens, he edited The Church and Pastoral Care (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989) and Turning Points in Pastoral Care: The Legacy of Anton Boisen and Seward Hiltner (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990). With Ellens and David G.Benner, he edited Christian Perspectives on Human Development (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992). And with Benner he edited Counseling and the Human Predicament: A Study of Sin, Guilt and Forgiveness (Grand Rapids,: Baker Book House, 1989).

The Adens are survived by two adult children, David LeRoy and Elizabeth Ann.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, December 19, 2015, at 3:00 pm, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1208 Rose Creek Drive, Woodstock, Georgia, 30189.

Condolences may be sent to Pastor Aden’s daughter, Elizabeth Aden-Buie, 602 Bentley Falls Court, Canton, Georgia 30114.

Donations can be made in memory of Dr. Aden to the Dr. LeRoy Aden Endowed Scholarship in Pastoral Care by sending a check made out to “LTSP” and sent to 7301 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119, marking the name of the scholarship fund on the memo line. To donate using your credit card, please contact Kathie Afflerbach, AIM, LTSP Director of Donor Services at or 215.248.6324.

Ruth Aden and Prof. LeRoy Aden, along with Martha Reumann, wife of the late Prof. John Reumann, shared memories of their time on the LTSP campus in this 2014 interview for the LTSP 150 Timeline:

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