In a surprise ceremony during the LIFT (Lutherans in Faith
at Muhlenberg College on June 9, the Rev. Edith Roberts, pastor of St. Peter
Lutheran Church, Bethlehem, was awarded the Henry Melchior Muhlenberg Medal for
exemplary congregational ministry. The medal is an honor conferred by the Lutheran
Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
The medal was established in 1992, the 250th anniversary of the beginning of
the ministry of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg on the shores of the North American
continent. The Rev. Dr. Philip D. W. Krey, president of the seminary, noted that, “from
his time until this, Muhlenberg’s ministry has served as a model for the
Lutheran pastoral ministry.” Therefore, it was altogether fitting that the Lutheran
Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, as a conclusion to the 1992 anniversary,
should inaugurate the Henry Melchior Muhlenberg Medal for exemplary service in
congregational and campus ministry in Regions 7 and 8 of the ELCA.
“In awarding this medal, the seminary hopes not only to salute and thank recipients
but also to honor all those who preach and teach the gospel faithfully,” Dr.
Nominations are by pastors and synodical leadership with the bishop’s endorsement.
Selection is by a secret and select committee of pastors in equal numbers from
Regions 7 and 8.
Pastor Roberts has served the Lutheran church in a variety of settings. From
1979 to 1984 she served as the assistant pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
in Easton. Following that, she was appointed assistant to the bishop of the Northeastern
Pennsylvania Synod, where she served with distinction on the synod staff for
eight and a half years. While working on the synod staff, Pastor Roberts was
a mentor and teacher to countless seminary students, a practice she continues
to this day by engaging seminary interns in her congregation.
Desiring to return to the parish, Pastor Roberts was elected in 1992 to be senior
pastor of St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, South Bethlehem, a post she
Challenges faced her in this new pastorate. She led the congregation to see its
mission in a downtown setting and enriched the church's physical facility with
much-needed restorations and handicapped accessibility.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Dr. Krey said, “It gives me great pleasure
to recognize and honor [Pastor Edith B. Roberts] for almost three decades of
such diverse ministry and for exemplary service to the Church and the community.”