Westar Institute

Institutional Affiliation
Charter Member

Jon F Dechow

Institutional Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Portola Valley, California


Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania M.Div., Concordia Seminary, St. Louis B.A., Concordia Seminary, St. Louis


Jon F. Dechow is an independent scholar, retired clergyman, academic, and real estate developer in the San Francisco Bay Area of northern California. He served as pastor of several churches in the midwestern and eastern United States, and studied and taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University. After completing doctoral work in 1975, he left church politics and the academic world. In 1976 he built a family residence in the Santa Cruz Mountains (see http://www.vistaverdepv.org/, Vista Verde/VV History). There his former Rutgers colleague Burton Mack and Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar, invited him to join the seminar on the eve of its founding in 1985. He joined as a corresponding Fellow (a category soon changed to regular Fellow). Extensive pastoral experience (highlighted by radio/TV ministry, adult education, and church building) impelled him into the academic study of religion. An interest in the renewal of religious community fits well with his sympathies with the public religious literacy efforts of the Westar Institute.

Academic Appointments

• Lecturer in Biblical studies, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ, 1968—1969• Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, 1967—1968

Professional Service

• Retired, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Sierra Pacific Synod, 1991• Interim ministry, Bethany Lutheran Church, Menlo Park, CA, 1980• Pastor, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Cleveland, OH, 1969—1971• Pastor, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Philadelphia, PA, 1965—1967• Co-Pastor, First Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE, 1960—1965• Interim ministries at Medford, NJ (1974), Princeton, NJ (1972—1973), Warminster, PA (1968—1969), Croydon, PA (1967–1968), Okawville, IL (1959—1960); internships at St. Louis, MO (1958—1959), Glen Arbor, MI (1958)