Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nothing special. . .

As some of you may know, my alma mater, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN, has decided to honor me as Alumnus of the Year for 2017 and I have been asked to preach for the Baccalaureate service.  Both will take place on Friday, May 19, 2017.  If you are so inclined, you can watch them either the livestream feed of both the Baccalaureate and Commencement or you may view them on Facebook

Others being honored include: 
Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa:
The Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens, pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Berlin, Germany

Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa:
Dr. Anthony M. Esolen, professor, The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Merrimack, New Hampshire

Miles Christi (Soldier of Christ) Award:
Mr. John M. Behrendt (posthumously), Fort Wayne, Indiana
Mr. W. Paul Wolf, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Let me begin by admitting the obvious.  I am no one special and do not deserve this recognition any more than hundreds or thousands of other alumni who have faithfully served the Lord and His flock.  Any one of them could have and probably should have been honored in my place.  That said, I am very grateful for the kindness in recognizing me in this way.  I can only say "Thank you" to those who chose to award this honor to me this year.

I would be remiss, however, by not giving much of the credit to my wife, Amy, and my children (Joseph and wife Sheryl, Rachel and husband Steven, and Andrew) for their willingness to sacrifice so much for the cause of my ministry.  I am humbled daily by the many ways they have supported me even though it often has meant sacrifice on their part.  I am also thankful for their willingness to be honest with me both in criticism and in compliment.  The Lord knows that it is indeed a gift when those who love you actually love you enough to tell you what others will not -- both good and bad.  Thank you, my family!

If this honor is for me, it is because I stand together with the many who came before me and those who have come after me, who have shared a dedication to the Lord and His Word and to the people committed to their care.  It is also because of the faithful teachers who have and who continue to form pastors by instructing them in Scripture, doctrine, and practice.  Though most of my professors have died, the Seminary is regularly renewed by those who fill their shoes and echo the same courage, dedication, and faithfulness.  God bless the faculty and staff of Concordia Theological Seminary (the best in the world, though I might be biased!).  Not the least in deserving my thanks is my associate, the Rev. Daniel M. Ulrich, who has renewed my hope with his enthusiasm, dedication, and accomplishment even though he is but two years from his own graduation.  It is a daily reminder to me that we need young men who will carry the mantle of the ministry in our place and I am thankful to have Pr. Ulrich as a partner in the work God has given us to do.

I must also mention the people in the pews. I am so very grateful to the people who have long suffered my many failures and failings.  To the people of my vicarage congregation, St. John's, Sayville, LI, NY, and my first parish, Resurrection, Cairo, NY, and to my current congregation, Grace, Clarksville, TN.  I love you all and love serving you in the Lord's name.  God bless you all. 

There are a couple of names I must mention.  The Rev. Ronald F. Fink, my first bishop, played a powerful and pivotal role in shaping my ministry.  Though he is now sainted and with the Lord, those who knew him will echo my appreciation for him, but, especially, for his faithful and loving role as shepherd of a very new and inexperienced pastor.  The Rev. Charles Evanson, emeritus from Redeemer Lutheran Church, Ft. Wayne, is both mentor and friend and I have learned so much from him through the years and his example as a pastor has had a profound impact upon me and the shape of my own pastoral service. 

Unless I am wrong, this is not a retirement so you are not finished hearing from me. . . at least not yet. 


Anonymous said...

Congratulations!! This is happy news, and we are all very pleased for you.

The Lord be with you.

Fr. D+

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Pastor.
I have greatly enjoyed reading your Blog for about a year now.
You are as Confessional as Luther himself.
Glad your alma mater sees that too.
God Bless the Pastor!!
Deacon Timothy Carter,Concordance Kingsport