A Tribute to Pastors’ Wives

Rings 1In my humble opinion, not nearly enough has been written or said about a woman whose role is almost always voluntary and almost never really understood or adequately appreciated. The role of which I speak is that of pastor’s wife.

Since I’ve been married to a pastor’s wife for more than 47 years, one might expect me to have a fuller understanding of the joys and sorrows, difficulties and blessings, highs and lows my dear bride has experienced during all those years. Yet I’m often either partially or totally oblivious to the roller coaster of emotions Terry has ridden as the wife of a mission developer/pastor/ ecclesiastical supervisor/church leader for 43 of those years. She is not alone in that ride.

The wife of a parish pastor is often scrutinized by people in the congregation her husband serves. She lives with, but doesn’t always talk about, concerns regarding what to wear, what to say, what to do and what people think or say about all that. Most pastors’ wives are sensitive to how what they do reflects positively or negatively upon their dear husband and his ministry. To varying degrees, the same is true also of spouses of other professional people and political leaders.

In the case of a pastor’s wife, those concerns and sensitivities are frequently exacerbated by the fiscal realities catalyzed by her husband’s all-too-often inadequate compensation. Those realities are regularly on her mind. Especially in recent years, pastors’ wives in greater numbers have followed their God-given vocational calling into professions of their own. In many cases the wife’s compensation is greater than her husband’s, which presents a different set of challenges, especially when her husband considers a call to a different congregation.

Accepting a new call requires the pastor’s wife and children to leave behind familiar surroundings and faithful friends, both in and beyond the congregation. It also means that the pastor’s wife may very well be faced with terminating, postponing or reestablishing in a new community what in many cases is a very fulfilling and successful career.

Without ever divulging specifics or identities, Terry has shared with me that she has spent many sleepless nights at pastors’ wives retreats listening, crying and praying with women she had never previously met. Quite often pastors’ wives feel there is no one with whom the burdens they are bearing can be shared freely and confidentially. They appreciate a trusted, supportive listener.

As you have opportunity, say a word of thanks, encouragement and support to a pastor’s wife you know. Pray for her. It will probably mean a whole lot more to her than you could ever imagine.

Much more could be said about these faithful women, who should in many cases legitimately be viewed as heroes of the church. Consider this brief article an inadequate and incomplete but nonetheless sincere expression of appreciation for and heartfelt tribute to pastors’ wives.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!

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Ecclesiastical Elections

Credit: phanlop88, freedigitalphotos.net

Credit: phanlop88, freedigitalphotos.net

This week marks a new process approved by the 2010 Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for the election of LCMS president. In previous years the president was elected by 1,200 delegates during the convention. That process will not be used this year.

This year the ballots will be cast by the pastoral and lay delegates who actually attended last year’s convention of the district in which their congregation holds its LCMS membership. The number of thusly qualified delegates is approximately 8,000. The new process provides a broader representation and brings the election much closer to individual LCMS congregations.

This year’s election will be held June 22-25. Electronic password protected ballots will be sent to all certified pastoral and lay district convention delegates, who will cast their electronic ballot within the stipulated period. If a majority vote is received by one of the three candidates nominated months ago by congregations of the Synod, the election is completed.

If no majority is achieved, a second ballot will be sent. It will contain the names of the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes on the first ballot. One of those two candidates will very likely receive a majority vote and the results will be announced a few weeks prior to the national convention in St. Louis July 20-25.

As most of us who have had the privilege of voting in any kind of election will readily testify, it’s not easy to know for sure which candidate in any election is most qualified. That’s the case with national, state and municipal elections. It’s also true of church body elections, especially at the district level and most especially at the national level.

Voters faced with casting a ballot want and need information about the candidates. Especially in this case, LCMS voters need to know if the candidates represent the perspectives, values, hopes and dreams the voters have for the future of the LCMS. Do they have the personal integrity, pastoral heart and professional experience necessary for the task? It’s not always easy to know.

Here’s my suggestion, humbly and respectfully offered. Ask your district president for his counsel. Unless the pastoral and lay delegates from your congregation did not attend last year’s triennial district convention, your congregation participated in your district president’s election. He is a trusted leader in your midst. And he knows all three nominees for LCMS president.

So, if you are one of last year’s district convention delegates who will be electing the LCMS president this week, why not seek the counsel of your district president regarding the candidates on the ballot? And if you are a delegate to the national Synod convention in July, why not seek that same counsel regarding candidates for the other officers and board members to be elected?

To assist you in that process, I’ve attached below my signature at the end of this article a list of all 35 district presidents, their office phone number and email address. I’m sure your district president would appreciate hearing from you and will be happy to respond.

If you will not be participating in either the pre-convention presidential election or the elections during the convention, feel free to forward this article to someone who will be involved in those elections. Perhaps that someone will be eternally or, at least, momentarily grateful. J

And don’t forget to pray for the blessing of our Lord on this important ecclesiastical election!

LCMS District Presidents – Spring 2013

Atlantic District 
Dr. David H. Benke
914-337-5700 x2 (O)
E-MAIL: dhbad@aol.com

California-Nevada-Hawaii District
Dr. Robert D. Newton
925-245-4000/866-264-6079 (O)
E-MAIL: prescnh@cnh-lcms.org

Central Illinois District
Rev. Mark A. Miller
217-793-1802 x1 (O)
E-MAIL: mmiller@cidlcms.org; president@cidlcms.org

Eastern District
Dr. Chris C. Wicher
716-634-5111 x12 (O)
E-MAIL: chris.wicher@lcmsed.org

English District
Dr. David P. Stechholz
248-476-0039/800-755-9335 x20 (O)
E-MAIL: DStechholz@EnglishDistrict.org

Florida-Georgia District 
Rev. Gregory S. Walton
407-857-5556/877-457-5556 x8 (O)
E-MAIL: gwalton@flga-lcms.org

Indiana District 
Rev. Daniel P. May
260-423-1511/800-837-1145 x2204 (O)
E-MAIL: dan.may@in.lcms.org

Iowa District East
Dr. Brian S. Saunders
319-373-2112 (O)
E-MAIL: bsaunders@lcmside.org

Iowa District West
Dr. Paul G. Sieveking
515-576-7666 (O)
E-MAIL: paul.sieveking@idwlcms.org

Kansas District
Rev. Keith E. Kohlmeier
785-357-4441/800-357-4421 x200 (O)
E-MAIL: kekohl@kslcms.org

Michigan District
The Reverend David P. E. Maier
734-665-4248/888-225-2111 x233 (O)
E-MAIL: david.maier@michigandistrict.org

Mid-South District
Dr. Roger C. Paavola
901-373-1343/866-373-1343 (O)
E-MAIL: rpaavola@mid-southlcms.com

Minnesota North District 
Rev. Donald J. Fondow
218-829-1781 (O)
E-MAIL: don.fondow@mnnlcms.org

Minnesota South District
Dr. Dean W. Nadasdy
952-223-2150 (O)
E-MAIL: dean.nadasdy@mnsdistrict.org

Missouri District
Dr. Ray G. Mirly
314-590-6200 (O)
E-MAIL: ray.mirly@mo.lcms.org

Montana District
Rev. Terry R. Forke
406-259-2908 (O)
E-MAIL: forke@mtdistlcms.org

Nebraska District
Rev. Russell L. Sommerfeld
402-643-2961/888-643-2961 x1004 (O)
E-MAIL: russs@ndlcms.org

New England District
Rev. Timothy Yeadon
413-783-0131 x11 (O)
E-MAIL: tyeadon@ned-lcms.org

New Jersey District
Dr. Anthony J. Steinbronn
908-233-8111 x11 (O)
E-MAIL: steinbronna@njdistrict.org

North Dakota District
Dr. James A. Baneck
701-751-3424 (O)
E-MAIL: ndlcmspres@midconetwork.com

North Wisconsin District
Rev. Dwayne M. Lueck
715-845-8241/x17 (O)
E-MAIL: Dwayne@nwdlcms.org

Northern Illinois District
Rev. Dan P. Gilbert
708-449-3020/888-708-5267 (O)
E-MAIL: dan.gilbert@ni.lcms.org

Northwest District
Rev. Paul A. Linnemann
503-288-8383/888-693-5267 x127 (O)
E-MAIL: paull@nowlcms.org

Ohio District
Rev. Terry L. Cripe
440-235-2297/800-901-2297 (O)
E-MAIL: cripet@oh.lcms.org

Oklahoma District
Rev. Barrie E. Henke
405-348-7600 (O)
E-MAIL: bhenke@htlcok.org

Pacific Southwest District
Dr. Larry A. Stoterau
949-854-3232/888-PSD-LCMS x201 (O)
E-MAIL: larry.stoterau@psd-lcms.org

Rocky Mountain District 
Rev. Allen D. Anderson
303-695-8001 x102 (O)
E-MAIL: rmdpresidentanderson@gmail.com

SELC District
Dr. Carl H. Krueger, Jr.
414-698-7208 (O)
E-MAIL: selcpres@wi.rr.com

South Dakota District
Dr. Dale L. Sattgast
605-361-1514 (O)
E-MAIL: sdpres@midco.net

South Wisconsin District
Rev. John C. Wille
414-464-8100 x14 (O)
E-MAIL:  wille@swd.lcms.org

Southeastern District
Dr. John R. Denninger
703-971-9371/800-637-5723 x202 (O)
E-MAIL:  jdenninger@se.lcms.org

Southern District
Rev. Kurtis D. Schultz
504-282-2632 (O)
E-MAIL: president@southernlcms.org

Southern Illinois District
Rev. Timothy J. Scharr
618-234-4767 (O)
E-MAIL: sidpresident@sidlcms.org

Texas District
Rev. Kenneth M. Hennings
512-926-4272/800-951-3478 x250 (O)
E-MAIL: hennings@txdistlcms.org

Wyoming District
Rev. Richard O. Boche
307-265-9000 (O)
E-MAIL: wypres@aol.com

Funeral/Memorial Service/Celebration of Life

Trinity Fedor

Funeral/Memorial Service/Celebration of Life

Those are all words that mean different things to different people. Essentially similar, they are events precipitated by death and usually take place in a church, a funeral home or a cemetery.

Early in my ministry I dreaded conducting a funeral service, which is the term we used in those days. Today, at a much different stage of life and ministry, I see these events as opportunities for heart to heart conversation with those in attendance about topics that truly matter to every person. So while I don’t look forward to funerals, neither do I dread conducting them.

When I attend a funeral or memorial service or celebration of life I listen closely for answers to questions about the nature of life, death, eternity, heaven, hell, sin, grace, hope, assurance and resurrection. And when I conduct one, I take great care to address these fundamental questions.

These days of my life, I’m more likely to attend than to conduct. When the service is nothing more than nice words about the nice guy in the large or little box that becomes the visual and emotional focal point for attendees, I leave the church or funeral home or cemetery with some emotions:

  • Sorrow for the loved ones of the deceased, who received little, if any, lasting comfort.
  • Regret that those in attendance left with as many questions as they had when they came.
  • Sadness that unbelievers in the audience didn’t hear the precious word of Christ’s love.
  • Anger at a wasted opportunity to influence eternally at an impressionable moment.
  • Frustration that the pastor didn’t comprehend the real needs of the people at his feet.
  • Concern that this might be the only opportunity for someone to hear the Gospel.

My words of encouragement to pastors who conduct a burial service are these:

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about death, including the inevitability of your own.
  • Remind attendees that they, like the deceased before them, will end up in a box.
  • Address from the crucible of experience the miracle of life and the mystery of death.
  • Freely quote from Scripture what God says about life after death.
  • Carefully distinguish Law and Gospel, using both to touch lives and hearts.
  • Pray fervently for the Spirit’s movement in those lives and hearts.

In so doing, a funeral or memorial service can truly become a celebration of life!

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!

Commencement Time Again

Graduation 1Almost exactly one year ago I wrote a Perspectives article titled Commencement Reflections. That article noted the high school graduation of our dear grandson, Kolby Keith. It’s that time of year again, today’s article observing the commencement of Kolby’s sister, Kayla Keith.

Our Kayla is a very special young lady! Naturally, I say that as a humbly proud grandfather. Like all grandfathers, I think my grandchildren are the smartest, prettiest and handsomest young people in the world. Terry wholeheartedly, emphatically and unreservedly agrees!

However, like most grandfathers and grandmothers, we discovered a long time ago that our grandchildren are not without original sin! I imagine some of you are still struggling with that question. To those who are, I respectfully suggest you get a grip on reality and just deal with it!

Seriously, Kayla has demonstrated a remarkable degree of maturity for a young lady a couple months shy of 18 years of age. Before a shoulder injury slowed her down, she was a very good high school fast pitch softball player. She alternated between first base and the pitcher’s mound, excelling at both positions.

This past year she divided her extracurricular time and attention between part time work at a local sporting goods store and umpiring for young girls’ softball games. She’s a hoot behind the plate!

Parents and coaches at her games have come to respect her fairness, accuracy and demeanor. They also know she can be pushed just so far before letting her critics know how thin the line is between disagreement with the ump’s decisions and being ejected from the game!

In the meantime, Kayla has also maintained excellent scholastic achievement. In a couple months she’ll be heading to Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, leaving Mother Angie and Father Todd as empty nesters. It’s hard for them, and for us, to believe their little girl is now a young woman ready to leave home, eager to discover what the Lord has in store.

Many of you have already had the experience of seeing children leave home. Many others face it in the years ahead. We humans look to the future with a strange mixture of uncertainty and anxiety, comingled with a dose of hope and confidence. The former emotions emanate from care and concern for loved ones, with an occasional dash of questionable faith in God’s providence. The latter are the products of God’s grace and promise.

Dear Kayla, your Mom and Dad, your brother Kolby, your Mimi and Peeps commend you to our gracious God’s care and keeping. We’re very proud of you! We love you with all our hearts!

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!