By Valery Rostek and Victoria Cameron
Wherever Lutherans gather, they find familial relationships. Concordia is no exception, and the Sower is proud to celebrate our connections.
Of course, the phenomenon of Lutherans finding family in Lutheran circles is something that is not only common at Concordia, but cultivated. Concordia’s famous “Ring by Spring” culture is an example of how our shared values can connect Lutherans, and it is no surprise that many students find themselves already related to many of their peers by the time they come to Concordia.
Finding these long-lost members of the family tree is always an exciting event and something to look forward to with each new incoming class, although sometimes it can take months or even years for students to realize their connections.
Senior and copy editor Valery Rostek and junior Michelle Porath, the chief editors of Potpourri 2020, recently discovered they were related by marriage. Porath’s older brother is married to Rostek’s second cousin.
Rostek’s extended family has been closely connected to the Lutheran Church─Missouri Synod since its Perry County, Missouri days. Caroline “Louise” Voelker Bergt, Rostek’s great x5 grandmother, settled in Perry County in 1938. Her daughter Lina married Erich Mueller in 1874, thus creating the “Mueller Clan”─ which is how Rostek’s extended family refers to themselves. Rostek’s grandmother attended Concordia University Chicago, which was called Concordia Teachers College then. In more recent years, Rostek’s second cousin Jennifer (Reynolds) Porath graduated from CUNE in 2017 and married Matthew Porath, thus tying the Porath and Rostek families together.
Sophomore and advertising manager Autumn Johnson also has connections at Concordia. Her cousin is married to Interim President Russ Sommerfeld’s nephew.
Senior and photography editor Sonja Brandt’s family has a long history with CUNE as well. Her grandfather Arthur Albrecht met his wife through Concordia; she was his roommate’s sister. Brandt’s parents also attended CUNE. Currently attending Concordia are her brother, sophomore Jacob Brandt, and her cousin, senior and chief copy editor Victoria Cameron.
Cameron is also the third generation in her family at Concordia, due to her mother who is also Brandt’s aunt attending. Although she is from the west coast, far from the midwest, her congregation was very invested in where she would attend college, as many of them went to different schools in the Concordia system. In fact, her prayer partner from the class 50 years ago, alumna Kristi Galindo Dyson ‘70, is from her home congregation.
Concordia still brings people together even after they have graduated. Alums return for concerts and other important events. They get to try to recognize people, or look at programs and lists of names to see if they recognize any surnames. They get a small taste of the family reunion with both the biological and Jesus family that current students get to experience every day that there is not coronavirus.