Obituary: David L. Larsen

Retired Evangelical Covenant Church minister David L. Larsen died March 19. He was 89.

David was born April 16, 1931, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended Bethel College, earned a master’s degree in psychology from Stanford University, and a master’s of divinity from Fuller Seminary.

He married Jean Johnson on May 31, 1957.

David served Covenant churches in Minnesota, California, and Illinois for 32 years. He subsequently served as professor and chair of the practical theology department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School from 1981 to 1996. He was named professor emeritus of preaching at the school, where he continued to work with doctor of ministry students until 2014. He authored 20 books, primarily on preaching and pastoral work.

He was a voracious reader with a photographic memory, also known for his skills as a preacher and orator. Two of his greatest passions were preaching and teaching others to preach. He also loved serving the local church as well as the academic world.

In addition to being a pastor and academic, David also was an evangelist, frequently asked to speak at conferences. He loved to speak on Bible prophecy.

He is survived by his wife, Jean; three children, Lorrie Strauss, Tom Larsen (Tammy), Dan Larsen (Rose); six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; as well as his brother, Paul, and sister, Mary.

A private service will be held on April 16. Memorial gifts may be directed to the local charity of choice.



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  1. Dr. Larson was such a good professor and teacher of preaching. He helped me so much. He was my doctor of ministry mentor and advisor.And he was my friend. We always had great Christian fellowship. He had such a memory and such a mind. Did you know he read a book a day for 50 years? He would go to the Rolfing library at Trinity and check out 12 books at a time and have them read and returned in 21 days! Plus whatever he was reading out of his own library and from the public library.

    His trio of books, the company of the preachers, the company of the creative, and the company of hope are essential reading for those in ministry.

    I only found out yesterday on my birthday that he died back in March and that he had been sick for several months. Does anybody know what he had? I will miss him until we see each other again in heaven.

  2. Back in the day when I was one of only two women in Dr. Larsen’s class at Trinity, he asked me, “have you ever considered getting ordained by the Covenant?” I had not. Maybe it was his booming voice, maybe it was the Holy Spirit, but I took his question deeply to heart. My life of pastoral and overseas ministry with the Covenant has been abundantly full thanks to Dr. Larsen. If I could only hear him preach one more time…

  3. It was in the early 1970’s in a discussion with my NPC friends Paul Jensen and Jon Engebretson that the “Larsen” name specifically came to my attention. I was joyful to hear from my buddies of the strong commitment of “John” and brother “Paul” to the infallibility and authority of Holy Scripture, especially when the Covenant Yearbook of the mid-late 1960’s had already indicated that not a single NP Seminary faculty member maintained that foundational conviction. By early 1972, I had moved on to Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, but was regularly mindful of this brotherly duo of theological fortress in the Covenant.

    It is deeply touching and heartening to read the 2 beautiful tributes above by Mr. Anderson and Mr. Finfrock. It is apparent from their comments that John Larsen was a terrifically wide-ranging, energetic, knowledgable and faithful servant in heralding the redeeming mercy of the Most High God. Clearly one who built with … “gold, silver, and precious stones” … “how beautiful the feet of those who proclaim good tidings.” Praise to God for this one of his saints!

  4. As a child our family would go to Elim Covenant Sunday evenings to hear Pastor Larsen speak. When he returned to Minneapolis my parents could not stay away and we attended First Covenant to hear him preach. We had the privilege to entertain Pastor Larsen and Jean twice while they were doing conferences in Alexandria. His biblical knowledge, delivery, voice, humor, concern for detail and memory were unequaled. Heart-felt condolences to Jean and family. We have lost a giant of our time. Peace be to his memory.

  5. Our loss and heaven’s gain. David was a giant of a role model in my life as is his brother Paul. While I didn’t know David as much as I would have wanted, he did offer to critique one of my sermons back when he was teaching at Trinity and I was in Seminary at North Park. He was brilliant and a master of the English language. Peace to his memory.

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