Knutson, Kent Sigvart
KNUTSON, KENT SIGVART
Theologian and president of American Lutheran Church (ALC); b. Goldfield, Iowa, Aug. 7, 1924; d., Minneapolis, March 12, 1973. After receiving a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1947 from Iowa State University, he worked briefly for an oil company, but then entered Luther Seminary, St. Paul, and received the B.D. there in 1951. The same year he married Norma Arnesen of Brooklyn, N.Y., and they became the parents of four children, in addition to adopting two Korean children.
He pursued graduate studies from 1951 to 1954 at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York, receiving a Ph.D. in 1961. In 1954 he was ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church, one of the churches that joined in 1960 to form the ALC. After serving as pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Staten Island, N.Y. (1954–58), he joined the faculty of Luther Seminary, teaching systematic theology and serving (1960–69) as director of graduate studies. In 1969 he became president of Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque. At the 1970 ALC convention, where he supported the decision to ordain women, Knutson was elected as the second ALC president, succeeding Fredrik Schiotz the following January. Knutson was a participant in the Lutheran-Catholic dialogues in the U.S. from their beginning in 1965, and in the international Lutheran-Anglican talks. He was a member of the executive committee of the Lutheran World Federation and the central committee of the World Council of Churches at the time of his death. He had also served as author and editor of theological publications. In the fall of 1972 he became fatally ill with what physicians diagnosed as Jakob-Creutzfeldt disease, a rare disorder of the central nervous system. He had perhaps contracted the disease in New Guinea during a tour of Asian mission stations the previous summer.