A former executive director of the Lutheran Human Relations Association of America and longtime civil rights activist received the esteemed Andrew Schulze Award during Valparaiso University’s Martin Luther Jr. Day celebration Monday, Jan. 17, at the Chapel of the Resurrection.

The Rev. Karl E. Lutze, an associate professor emeritus of Theology at Valparaiso University who served 21 years on the staff of the Lutheran Human Relations Association of America (LHRAA) at Valpo, including 15 years as executive director, was honored by President Mark Heckler during the 22nd annual MLK Day convocation.

This was the second year the Andrew Schulze Award has been presented during the MLK Day celebration. The award, bestowed at the discretion of the president, honors an individual whose contributions to racial equality and social justice have had a long-term impact throughout the region.

The award honors the legacy of the Rev. Schulze, a white Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor who began his ministry serving black mission churches in Springfield, Ill., St. Louis, and Chicago. As an early proponent of integration, he lived in the communities he served, fought to get black students admitted to Lutheran schools, and in 1953 founded LHRAA, an influential group in the area of Lutheran race relations that was based at Valparaiso University until 1980. In 1962, the Rev. Schulze was one of several Northern white clergymen arrested in Albany, Ga., for participating in civil rights demonstrations. Throughout his life, Andrew Schulze led by example through speaking, writing, teaching and taking action to fight racism and promote equality for black people in the church and beyond.

Lutze served with Schulze on the LHRAA staff from 1959 until Schulze’s retirement, when Lutze assumed the role of executive director.

“It’s amazing to be here in this place under the cross where we evaluate where we walk,” Lutze said after receiving the award from President Heckler. “I learned so much from Andrew Schulze and from Dr. King.”

A graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Lutze served 15 years in the South as a parish pastor in African-American communities, first in Muskogee, Okla., and later in Tulsa, Okla. He grew his first parish in Muskogee from 17 to 90 members, providing a place in the racially divided South for people to come and worship in a caring environment.

Lutze was instrumental in planning, coordinating and teaching in an exchange program involving students from Valpo and Miles College, an African-American institution of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Ala. He also helped organize 50 chapters of the LHRAA across the country.

Lutze served as the University’s Director of Church Relations from 1981 to 1991.

Along with the late Walt Reiner, Lutze played an integral role in race relations in the city of Valparaiso by helping to found Project Neighbors. The program collaborates with and welcomes minority families wishing to make their home in Valparaiso.

Lutze was named a Valparaiso University honorary alumnus in 1980 and was a co-recipient, with Reiner, of the Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 1996. Lutze, along with his late wife Esther, was a co-recipient of the University’s Lumen Christi Medal, Valpo’s highest award for service. Lutze is the author of six books.

More information about Valpo’s MLK Celebration events can be found at http://www.valpo.edu/mlk/