Christus Award

The Christus Award is given annually to individuals in recognition of the contributions they have made to strengthen the bridge between the church and the university and/or who have made significant contributions to higher education in the ELCA.

Jerry Slattum, 2015 Recipient

Jerry Slattum

Born and reared in Salem, Oregon, of Norwegian and Swedish heritage, Dr. Jerald Slattum graduated with honors from Salem High School, earned his B.A. from Pacific Lutheran College, and then did graduate work at both UCLA and USC, attaining an MA in Art. During his time in graduate school the Los Angeles County Museum
of Art exhibited his paintings, and he mounted one-man shows in New York and Paris. He was awarded the Purchase Award in Tucson, AZ, and the Prix de Paris Awards in New York City and Paris. Eventually he would earn his doctorate from Union of Experimenting Colleges and Universities in Ohio with a specialization in Native American Art History. It seems appropriate for the Christus Award that his dissertation was an examination of the influence of Western religion on Hopi Kachina Doll development, a commingling of arguably two of the most important passions in his life.

A resident of the Conejo Valley since 1962, Dr. Slattum came as the first art instructor hired to teach at the new California Lutheran College. He was the youth director for a Lutheran church in Westchester when he had a chance meeting with a representative of Cal Lutheran who was looking for an art teacher.

Betty Jean, his wife, claims it was an act of God that he found Cal Lutheran (or it found him). An enthusiastic advocate of student activities, he was advisor to the Art Club, the International Students’ Club and other groups. He taught Head Start classes, judged regional art shows, and was Professor of the Year four times. He was an active member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and designed that parish’s altar, pulpit, monumental cross and Baptismal font.

For 42 years, Dr. Slattum led interim study tours with students to Scandinavia, Europe, Central and South America, the Soviet Union and the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona. It is not an overstatement to claim that he was responsible for getting more students into church than anyone else in Cal Lutheran history (of course, these churches were hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old, and the students were more interested in the stained glass and architecture than communion). In his travels, he met kings, popes, and Native American Chiefs, but always found interacting with more common people to be more interesting and rewarding. Perhaps this guiding principle that all people are equal and deserve respect is what makes him so deserving of this award today.

Recipients of the Christus Award
2015 Jerry Slattum
2014 Jack Wise
2013 Jim and Sue Swenson
2012 Dr. Jerry Miller
2011 The Rev. Dr. Paul Egertson
2010 Mr. Marvin Soiland
2009 The Rev. Dr. Howie Wennes
2008 Mrs. Beverly Anderson
2007 The Rev. Lauren "Bud" Egdahl
2006 The Rev. Dr. Luther Olmon
2005 Dr. Louise Evenson & Karsten Lundring
2004 Mr. Norman Lueck
2003 The Rev. Gerry Swanson and Dr. Jan Bowman
2002 The Rev. John Embree
2001 Mr. Bob Samuelson
2000 The Rev. Paul Nakamura/Aina Abrahamson
1999 The Rev. Quentin Garman
1998 Dr. Ray & Mrs. Helen Olson
1997 The Rev. Erling & Dr. Marge Wold
1996 Dr. Gaylerd Mercer & Mrs. Joan Falde
1995 The Rev. Carl & Mrs. Ruth Segerhammar
1994 The Rev. James Bessey
1993 Mr. Gaylord Mercer
1992 Ms. Diane Nelson