My real training for the pastoral ministry was done by the good folks of Grace Lutheran Church of Paris, Texas and St. John Lutheran Church of Clarksville, Texas. These two small churches had me as their pastor for eleven years. During this time they taught me how to visit the sick, minister to the dying, comfort the bereaved, counsel the troubled and speak God’s forgiveness through Christ, teach couples about God’s pattern for marriage, and guide families in the way of daily prayer and meditation on God’s Word. They also taught me not to expect perfection in them or in myself this side of heaven.
This all began with my ordination and installation on July 16, 1961, following my formal training and graduation from Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois, now in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In September of 1972 Faith Lutheran Church of Plano, Texas called me to be their pastor. For my wife, Elizabeth, and five children, Nathan, Lydia, John, Rachel, and Marie, and me, this was a big change. Faith Lutheran was in the middle of a growing metropolis. This became our home for 34 years, during which time we saw an attendance grow from 70 to 470. The preschool expanded to a school and peaked at an enrollment of 350.
My involvement in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has not been so much in an official capacity as in unofficial efforts to encourage faithfulness to the Lutheran Confessions and to the Scripture. The move to Plano was when the LCMS was teetering on the brink of treating the Bible as a book of what people believed about God, rather than the Bible is the Word of God. This crisis was temporarily resolved at the Synod’s convention in 1973, yet much of Christendom and the world about us have come down on the side of treating the Bible as merely the word of men. This has fueled the cultural war and the drastic change in the definition of family, marriage, and gender.
In 2005 an opportunity came about to purchase a 30 acre place with house and improvements to fulfill a secondary dream, that of making an organic farm and garden produce nutrient dense food. In 2006 we bid farewell to the responsibilities of a large congregation and school, and moved to the place, which is 15 miles west of Texarkana. God has given us success in these past eleven years, providing us with cattle, sheep, milk goats, and chickens all of which give us wonderful food. The garden produces without insecticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. Some people with whom we share have declared that they have never eaten food so rich in flavor.
In addition to the hobby farm, God has given me opportunities to serve two small congregations: Peace Lutheran Church of Texarkana and Redeemer Lutheran Church of Atlanta, Texas. These congregations give me the privilege of preaching and teaching God’s Good News of Jesus our Savior and Redeemer every Sunday.