2020 NLSA School Shepherd Announced!

Pastor Jonathan Dinger
NLSA School Shepherd
2020 Award Recipient

The Lutheran School Shepherd Award was established by National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA) to honor a faithful pastor who provides outstanding encouragement, support and service to his school.  Pastors who are considered for this prestigious award understand and articulate a clear philosophy of Lutheran education and provide spiritual encouragement, guidance and support for the schools entrusted to their care.  They are champions for their schools. 

We are pleased to announce that Pastor Jonathan Dinger who serves at Grace Lutheran Church and School in Pocatello, Idaho is selected as the 2020 NLSA School Shepherd. 

Pastor Dinger was nominated by the NLSA Validation Team at the time of Grace Lutheran School’s NLSA site visit in spring, 2020.  After his nomination was endorsed by LCMS Northwest District officials, a committee of well-respected pastors reviewed each application and unanimously selected Pastor Dinger from the slate of deserving leaders nominated for this award. 

When asked, “Why do you love your school?” Pastor Dinger replied, “I love Lutheran School distinctiveness – mission outposts, bridges of relevance, Gospel beacons.  They place models of Christian love in classrooms, teachers sharing Jesus with students and families. They welcome the unchurched, dechurched, even other faiths, teach them to read, compute, create, and explore, but always to know Jesus and God’s grace. After the Means of Grace, schools are the greatest gift of the LCMS.” 

Jonathan Schultz, speaking on behalf of Grace Lutheran’s NLSA  Validation Team emphasizes the importance of relationships, “It was obvious to our whole team that he (Pastor Dinger) exemplifies this daily and in doing so inspires the rest of the faculty and staff to do the same. Working within this ministry seems to be a real joy…”

A community parent observes, “The senior pastor at Grace Lutheran Church and School helped to launch Grace Lutheran High School where my son attends.  He is a hard-working dedicated professional who relates well with students and families.  A parent of students at Grace shares, “ From its inception, Pastor Dinger worked with the members of the congregation and school families to build and share the dream of the high school.”  Pastor Dinger’s leadership continued with his service as Pastor and Headmaster during the new high school’s first two years.”

LCMS Northwest District Executive Director, Jim Scriven affirms Pastor Dinger’s nomination, “Pastor Dinger is everything we could hope for from a pastor regarding his engagement and involvement in school ministry. His passion for schools is a primary avenue for teaching the faith, in his congregation and out into the community, shines continuously.”

A graduate of Concordia University, Portland, Ore. and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., Pastor Dinger has faithfully served at Seibo Gakuen High School, Hanno, Japan (1984-1985), Seattle Lutheran High School, Seattle, Wash. (1986-1991), St. Luke Lutheran Church, Federal Way, Wash. (1995-1997), Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Aloha, Ore. (1997-2007) and Grace Lutheran Church and School, Pocatello, Idaho (2007-present).

Pastor Dinger’s leadership exemplifies the traits of a faithful school shepherd and NLSA is pleased to recognize his service and contributions to Lutheran education with the 2020 School Shepherd Award.