Harmelink named CHI executive director

By Vicki Biggs

Concordia Historical Institute (CHI), the Synod’s repository of documents and artifacts, has a new executive director — the Rev. Dr. Daniel N. Harmelink, who begins serving in the position Feb. 1.



He has been pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Huntington Beach, Calif., since 1996.

CHI is the official Department of Archives and History of the LCMS. Its holdings include more than 2.5 million documents and 7,500 artifacts tracing Lutheran history in the United States and the world. All told, it maintains the largest collections of Lutheran documents in North America.

Harmelink brings to his new post a profound interest in CHI and the desire to proclaim Lutheran history.

“Daniel is well qualified for this position,” said Larry Lumpe, CHI’s present executive director and a member of the search committee for his successor. “He is well-versed in the church’s history and dedicated to maintaining our legacy.”

Lumpe, who has served in that role since 2010, is set to retire Feb. 15. He and Harmelink will work together for the two weeks that their positions overlap.

“Our Christian faith is grounded in history,” says Harmelink. “We need to take the history of Christ and His church seriously. As such, treasuring and trumpeting the history of our Lord and His people is more important than ever.”

Harmelink is the founding president of the International Association of Reformation Coins and Medals, which seeks to further the study of the Lutheran Reformation worldwide through numismatic art.

Several years ago, he learned about CHI’s collection of some 700 commemorative Reformation coins and medals, some of which date to Martin Luther’s day. Recently, he offered to digitally photograph and catalog the collection with the help of the Rev. Dr. Frederick Schumacher, executive director of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau. Now they are working with Concordia Publishing House to publish the catalog in time for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

Calling CHI’s collection of Reformation coins and medals the best institutional collection outside of Germany, Harmelink said, “We should share this collection to teach the truths rediscovered in the Reformation with as many as will receive it.”

“The Reformation used the arts and music to teach the faith. Whether it’s stained glass or coins or medals … or C.F.W. Walther’s smoking pipe, we can use these artifacts to show how Christ has graciously worked in and through His church,” explained Harmelink, who worked as a graphic artist prior to 1984.

“Mr. Lumpe, the CHI staff and the board of directors have done great work at CHI to care for this precious collection that chronicles our heritage,” said Harmelink. “I look forward to the opportunity to find new and creative ways to share these historical treasures with our church leaders and congregations — with all who have an interest in learning about God’s redeeming promises that have lead us in the past and will carry us into the future.”

Harmelink earned a Ph.D. in Missiology from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2003; an M.Div. from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1993; and a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Culture in 1988 from Christ College (now Concordia University) in Irvine, Calif.

He is chairman of the board of trustees for Lutheran Bible Institute in California and has produced an adult Bible study video titled “The Qur’an and the Bible: Examining the Historical Evidence.”

In addition to preserving the Synod’s documents and objects, CHI operates the Lutheran History Museum at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis; administers the Saxon Lutheran Memorial and Hill of Peace in Perry County, Mo.; and publishes Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, the oldest journal devoted to American Lutheran history.

CHI’s headquarters and archives are located on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Its research facilities and rotating exhibits are open to the public. Contact CHI for information and hours at 314-505-7900 or chi@lutheranhistory.org.

Vicki Biggs is director of Public Relations with LCMS Communications.

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