Betty Kohn Fieldhouse Dedication Date Change

To allow more families to join in our celebration, we have moved the Betty Kohn Fieldhouse Dedication to MLC’s Homecoming weekend, Saturday, October 8 at 9:15 am.
You are invited to join us for this celebration as we dedicate and give thanks for the newly constructed MLC facility.  Made possible by many initial gifts and the transformational gift of Robert and Betty Kohn, our new fieldhouse features batting cages, golf simulators, track & field equipment, and more.

MLC Interim Athletic Director Announced

The administration of Martin Luther College is working to fill the position of the MLC Athletic Director that Jim Unke faithfully served for 25 years. In consultation with the Executive Committee of the MLC Governing Board, the administration is moving ahead with a three-part interim plan:
  • Mr. Dave Biedenbender, who currently serves as an admissions counselor, has accepted the appointment as interim athletic director for the 2022-23 school year. In addition to having earned a master’s in athletic administration, Dave has considerable coaching experience and has worked with the MLC athletic department in many capacities.
  • Mr. Jeff Sitz, a recently retired athletic director at Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee and assistant executive director of the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association, has agreed to serve as a consultant/mentor for Mr. Biedenbender as he assumes the interim athletic director role.
  • The MLC Governing Board, at its October meeting, will determine the wisest long-term path for moving forward to fill the athletic director position.


SUNDAY, AUG. 7 at 4:00 PM.
The memorial service for Jim Unke will be held this Sunday, August 7, at 4:00 pm in the Chapel of the Christ on the MLC campus at 1995 Luther Court, New Ulm, MN. It will also be live-streamed on the MLC website here. Visitation will take place before the service from 12:00 – 4:00 pm. Pastor Nathan Scharf will officiate, and a private burial service will be held at a later date. Following the service, there will be light refreshments in the MLC cafeteria in the Luther Student Center.
Jim’s family suggests that memorials be sent to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School, or Martin Luther College. Gifts to MLC will be contributed to an endowment fund for financial aid for those studying for the public ministry at MLC. To donate online to MLC, use this link, choose the designation of MLC Scholarship Endowment Fund, and fill out the Tribute Gift details at the bottom of the page.

Our Prayers Are With the Unke Family

Today (Saturday, July 30), in wisdom far beyond our own, and in boundless love for us in Christ that is also at times hard for us to fully understand, God has seen fit to call to himself in heaven the soul of our brother, Jim Unke.

After the stroke Jim suffered on Friday, July 15, it became clear, as last week drew to a close,  that the fatal brain injury the stroke caused would mean that God would soon be calling his faithful servant home to himself in heaven.

We will be sure to pass on information about Jim’s funeral service as soon as that is shared with us.

You may recall that just this April, Jim was among those on our campus who thanked God for completing a significant ministry milestone as he celebrated 40 years of public gospel ministry:

  • 1 year as an emergency instructor at East Fork Lutheran High School, Whiteriver, AZ (1980-1981);
  • 4 years as 8th grade teacher and athletic director at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in New Ulm, MN (1983-1987);
  • 10 years as athletic director at Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills, WI (1987-1997); and
  • 25 years as director of athletics at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN (1997-2022).

The seal of MLC where Jim served so faithfully for 25 years has the Latin word vivit (“he lives”) inscribed around the outside.  Vivit is a reminder that, in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we have the certainty that God has declared us not-guilty and that because Jesus lives, we too shall live (John 14:25).

On this day, Jim has begun to experience in a whole new glorious way that truth on our MLC seal under which he served for 25 years, Yes, even on this day of Jim’s death, this is true: Vivit!  

Please remember to keep in your prayers Jim’s wife Lori, their children, grandchildren, and the rest of their extended families, as they mourn the earthly loss of a faithful and loving husband, father, and grandfather.   Please keep our college of ministry in your prayers as our campus family feels the earthly loss of a friend, a co-worker, and a brother in Christ.

But, in Christ, while we do indeed grieve, we do not grieve without hope as the unbelieving world does (1 Thessalonians 4:13).  We grieve in hope.  Why?  Vivit!

In Him,

Rich Gurgel
President, Martin Luther College

In Our Prayers

Professor Jim Unke, Martin Luther College Athletic Director, suffered a major stroke on Friday, July 15. After being transferred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, a surgical procedure was performed to relieve pressure from bleeding in the brain. The doctors are pleased with the results of that procedure. He will likely remain in ICU for the next 10-14 days. Prayers for God’s continued blessing on Jim, Lori, and their family are appreciated during this long road to recovery.

MLC Day Is Wednesday, May 4!

Dear Friends,
Join thousands of friends of Martin Luther College across the globe:
pray for our work of service to the world, share messages of
encouragement online, and give to support that work.

What You Can Do:

  • Pray for our students, faculty, and staff, and for our mission of training the next generation of called workers to share the gospel with the world.
  • Share a message of support or gratitude. Record a short video with your message (printable MLC Day signs are available at, and share it on our MLC Day Kudoboards, or post it on Facebook/Instagram using #MLCDAY22.
    Click on our Classroom Activities tab to see more sharing options for classrooms.
  • Give a gift to MLC. Your donation will directly assist MLC students by helping us fund the Congregational Partner Grant Program. A generous donor is matching all donations up to $50,000 to help us reach our $100,000 goal.

Share your prayers, messages, videos and photos here. 

We’ll be posting photos and stories, highlighting special classroom incentives, and updating progress reports on the MLC Facebook and Instagram pages.


Beginning spring 2022, MnDOT will be reconstructing Hwy 14 from New Ulm to Nicollet to improve safety and travel for residents, commuters, and freight. Improvements will include:
  • – Converting the two-lane highway to a four-lane divided highway
  • Bypassing Courtland by realigning Hwy 14 north of the city
  • Constructing new interchanges in Courtland and at Co. Rd. 37 in New Ulm
  • Constructing safer intersections between New Ulm Quartzite Quarries and Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School
Pass through traffic will be detoured to Hwy 15, Hwy 68, and Hwy 169 during construction.

A Message from President Gurgel

Dear Sisters and Brothers of Our Synod-Wide MLC Family,
Aren’t there many times, as we live as sinners in a sinful world, where we find ourselves thinking: “But it shouldn’t be that way!”?
We say that when life situations bring frustration to our hearts or tears to our eyes. We say “But it shouldn’t be that way!” as we bemoan what’s become of God’s perfect creation.
And, when we’re honest, the times we say “But it shouldn’t be that way!” with the greatest regret come when what’s troubling us flows from our own hearts. Then “But it shouldn’t be that way!” becomes the cry of a repentant heart!
But in the wonder of the Christmas gospel, the statement “But it shouldn’t be that way!” becomes not a sad litany of trouble but a joyful chorus of praise!
It begins as Mary is compelled to lay the little One she has delivered to sleep on the hard wood of a feeding trough. As we remember that this One sleeping on that rough wood is not only our brother but also our glorious Creator, it dawns on us: “But it shouldn’t be that way!”
It continues as we watch him for 33 years walk a path that makes him “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3). We are led to say again: “But it shouldn’t be that way!’
And then comes the day when the rough, unforgiving wood on which he lies and falls asleep is not a feeding trough but a Roman cross. There our God and brother humbles himself all the way to the point of death under his Father’s judgment. There we exclaim most of all: “But it shouldn’t be that way!”
And in all of that, we are not seeing something sad but something gloriously wonderful! The One who falls asleep on that rough, unforgiving wood completes his Father’s saving plan for all of us and for each of us!
No, none of this was as it should be. Yet all of it was as it must be (Matthew 16:21) for us to be known as forgiven daughters and sons of his eternal kingdom.
As a small gift to assist in your celebration of that wonder of saving grace this Christmas, please enjoy the video below from our Martin Luther College Choir. The anthem And You Will Sleep has a text written by MLC staff member Laurie Gauger-Hested with music composed by her son Philip Biedenbender.
In Him,
Rich Gurgel
President, Martin Luther College

WELS National Choral Fest at MLC

The 2021 WELS National Choral Fest took place November 12-14, 2021 at Martin Luther College under the theme “One Faith, One Hope, One Lord.” Twenty-three WELS Lutheran High Schools from around the nation participated.

You can view the archived livestream of this event below:

Learn more at

Summer 2021 MLC COVID Update

MLC President Rich Gurgel provides an overview and rationale related to the health and safety protocols for the start of our new school year.

Greetings, Knight Nation! Your MLC family is very, very eager to see you on campus!

We have been hearing concerns from some of you for what it may mean on our MLC campus as our country feels the impact of a rise in COVID cases due to the Delta variant. You may even have heard that many colleges and universities, such as the entire University of Minnesota system, will be requiring masks as this fall semester begins.

Allow me to say it very simply! We have not changed our plans at MLC to be an open campus this school year and to leave masking and social distancing protocols behind.

Why the change from last year? Last year we sought to honor our governor’s mandate, protect those most vulnerable in our campus family, as well as respect the welfare and concerns of a host community with a significant senior population. In addition, vaccines had not been approved during the first semester and didn’t become readily available until the end of our second semester.

All of those key factors have changed. There is no governor’s mandate at present in Minnesota, and no indication that one is being planned. Our faculty and staff vaccination rate stands at over 84%. And the vaccination rate for those 65 or older in Brown County is 98%. Many of you, our students, have also been vaccinated, including those with underly health challenges that make them especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. Also consider this: in the state of Minnesota less than 3,500 documented cases of COVID have been reported among more than 3 million vaccinated. That’s a .1% breakthrough rate. Hospitalization from severe cases of COVID 19 among those vaccinated stands at only 1 in 10,000, and the death rate among vaccinated people is less than 2 in 100,000.

All of that has convinced us of this! The good that will be gained by you, our students, as you enjoy as normal of life on campus as possible, far, far outweighs any current risks to our campus family. We say that knowing that we all rest, in the last analysis, in the nail -marked hands of our Savior. We are far more than numbers and statistics to him.

The protocols that will be in place will be very few: the US Department of Transportation has not changed their masking requirement on public transportation (which includes our chartered buses for athletic teams or musical ensembles). Allina Health Care, which staffs our training room, has a mask mandate which will apply to all who enter the training room. There will also be quarantine for unvaccinated students, staff or faculty who are in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID 19. And, finally, just as would with any contagious illness, those who test positive for COVID 19 will be isolation until they have recovered.

Other than that, we thank God that we are anticipating that life on and off campus will resemble a regular school year. I know many of you, in particular, are glad for the return of open dorms! I am most looking forward to seeing our whole campus family all together at one time in Chapel of the Christ as we gather for daily worship! We thank God for these and all such restorations of what it means to be a campus family on this hill! Most importantly, we know how all of this can contribute to your preparation for gospel ministry!

See you soon, Knights!