e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | October 18, 2012 Twitter Facebook

Moravian Theological Seminary Adjunct Professor Walter Wagner honored

Rev. Dr. Walter Wagner

Rev. Dr. Walter Wagner, adjunct professor of church history, New Testament, and world religions at Moravian Theological Seminary, was presented with the Wallenberg Honors on Sunday, September 23. This recognition was part of the 28th annual Wallenberg Tribute Dinner, hosted by the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College and was attended by 170 leaders, friends and community members. 

Raoul Wallenberg, for whom the Tribute is named, was instrumental in saving tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to Nazi death camps. Neither Hungarian or Jewish himself, Wallenberg found the courage to stand for the rights of others during terrifying times. He worked with a strong conviction that, "the condition of the least of us is the measure of us all," and did not stop until all were free from the threat of the Nazis. He disappeared into Soviet custody in 1945, shortly after the liberation of Budapest, suffering in prisons for two years before dying in anonymity.

Recognized as a contemporary partner in pursuing the mission of Jewish-Christian understanding, Rev. Dr. Wagner received the Wallenberg honors, "In honor of the meticulous scholarship, inspired leadership, and creative teaching through which he has devoted himself to the ministry of the Christian church as a witness to God’s manifold mercies and to the strengthening of human community in its diversity and in the widening scope of its self-understanding.”

Rev. Dr. Wagner has been an ordained Lutheran minister for 52 years, serving in parish ministry, national church office, chaplaincy and various higher education faculties. He has also authored numerous books, the latest of which was the 2008 publication Opening the Qur’an.
In his retirement years, Rev. Dr. Wagner has chosen to continue his interfaith work, working to encourage dialogue and understanding with the Muslim community of the Lehigh Valley. At Moravian Theological Seminary, he teaches courses about Islam in the for-credit curriculum, leads classes in the CROSSROADS lay-leadership program, and co-facilitates a series of Christian-Muslim interfaith dialogue nights

The Wallenberg Honors salute the courageous moral action Rev. Dr. Wagner continually demonstrates through his work in the community. In the words of Peter Pettit as he introduced Walter Wagner for the award, "May we heed his counsel, acknowledge his courageous leadership, and join in according him the 2012 Wallenberg Honors."