Joseph A. Larson ’79 Wins 2015 Gustavus Service Award

Posted on November 19th, 2015 by

Joseph A. Larson '79

Joseph A. Larson ’79

Gustavus Adolphus College recognized Joseph A. Larson ’79 as the 2015 recipient of the Gustavus Association of Congregations and Alumni Service Award at the daily chapel service on Monday, Nov. 16. The award recognizes Gustavus alumni who have made distinctive commitments and contributions to the service of others.

A religion major at Gustavus, Larson earned a master’s of divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul in 1983. Since then, he has spent his career in the social services sector, serving poor, marginalized, stigmatized, and disenfranchised populations. Previously with Catholic Charities, the American Red Cross, and United Way, he also served for 14 years as the executive director of the Aliveness Project, a community center for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Larson currently serves as the development director for the GOD’s CHILD Project, a humanitarian organization that develops and administers health, education, family foster care, community development, and human rights protection systems in the world’s poorest nations.

Grady St. Dennis ’92, chaplain and director of church relations at Gustavus, presented the award. “It is a great joy for the Gustavus Alumni Board and Gustavus Association of Congregations Board to honor Joe Larson with 2015 Gustavus Service Award. He embodies the best of what faith, service, and justice mean in daily living for the sake of others. Joe Larson has dedicated his life to serving the poor and marginalized and is deserving of the recognition,” he said.

“I am thrilled to receive this prestigious award from my alma matter. In reflection, I feel that my years at Gustavus helped inspire me to pursue a life of service on behalf of those who live on the edges of our community. I am humbled by this special recognition and grateful to God, my family, and all those who have supported me throughout my career,” Larson said.

A member of Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer in South Minneapolis, Larson has been involved in preaching, worship coordination, and lay leadership. During his free time, Larson enjoys using his artistic gifts to express his faith. He has been commissioned for projects for local congregations, including hanging murals at Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer and St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church in St. Paul. His artwork has been featured in The Lutheran and in Metro Lutheran publications.

Larson and his husband, Charlie Jordan, live in Minneapolis.

The Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations and Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni and former students of Gustavus Adolphus College who have made distinctive commitments and contributions to the service of others. Gustavus and the Association of Congregations celebrate the efforts of members of the college community who participate in service activities through volunteer work, involvement in the church, and extraordinary professional accomplishments.

The College’s commitment to service is expressed in its mission statement, which calls for “a mature understanding of the Christian faith, service to others, a sense of community, an international perspective, and attitudes and behaviors that work toward a free and peaceful world.” The Covenant Statement between Gustavus and the Association of Congregations further encourages members of the Gustavus community to view their “life’s work as vocation, a call to service for the greater good of the community.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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