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Monday, June 23, 2008


Marriage Recognition

This past weekend Trinity celebrated marriage recognition for those member couples who are marking one year or less of marriage and those marking 50 years or more in 2008.

We added honoring those married one year or less last year and this year had a separate dinner for them at the parsonage on Saturday evening after worship. 30 couples were invited and three were able to attend. It was a very nice evening.

A longer Trinity tradition is honoring those couples married for 50 years or more with a dinner following the 11:00 a.m. worship service. Trinity has 113 such couples in 2008 including 15 celebrating 50 years of marriage this year and 6 celebrating 60. The longest married couple here has been married for 69 years. If you add all of the 113 couples years of marriage together the total married years is 6,337! About 135 attended this year's dinner.

Ten of the 15 couples celebrating 50 years of marriage were with us on Sunday as well as four of the 6 celebrating 60 years of marriage. The longest-married couple in attendance have been married for 65 years this year.

We honored all of the couples during the announcements before the 11:00 a.m. service with special mention of the 50/60 year couples. Then, all of those celebrating 50 or more years of marriage were invited to a dinner in Hyson Hall after worship. Those celebrating 50/60 years were invited to bring along family members and were photographed for our "Lansdale Lutheran" newsletter.

This is not an easy day for our members who have lost a spouse either recently or long ago. Many of our widows and widowers stay away on this Sunday. I tried to address this in the announcements, as we were honoring those long-time married folks who were present, when I said, "As we honor these members we are fully aware that there are many in our congregation who have lost spouses who would be celebrating 50 years or more together if death had not parted them. With you, we remember our loved ones fondly today." This was especially important since our 11:00 a.m. service announcements are heard live on the radio by many who have lost a spouse, I'm sure.

After the dinner, Pastor Tiemeyer and I led an informal program and moved about Hyson Hall with a microphone asking questions. I asked the 65 year married couple for their advise on long-time marriage and they said "patience." A number of these folks (anyone married here more than 52 or 53 years ago) were married in the "old" Trinity church building on East Main Street. Two couples noted that, while they were married at the "new" Trinity church building on West Main Street, their reception was back in the basement of the "old" building on East Main Street. We asked for any "how we met" or "first date" stories and heard some cute stories including one, told by the husband, that his wife-to-be was so excited to be on a first date with him that she couldn't eat her hot dog meal. Pastor Tiemeyer asked how many grew up attending "Luther League" and about one-third of those present responded. When I asked how many had attended church camp, only three hands went up.

A wonderful day to celebrate marriage!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The Rev. Dr. John H. P. Reumann, 1927 - 2008

Our congregation was honored to host the funeral service for the Rev. Dr. John "Jack" H.P. Reumann last Thursday, June 12th. Dr. Reumann died on June 6th. His father, Paul, was the visionary pastor who brought Trinity from its "downtown" Lansdale East Main Street location to our current West Main Street location in the 1950's. Jack grew up in our congregation and he and his wife, Martha, were married here in 1958.

The service was wonderful, full of the Gospel, stories, music and singing. Jack & Martha's pastor, John Saraka (Christ-Ascension Chestnut Hill/Philadelphia) presided and Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Bishop Claire S. Burkat preached. Mark Mummert from the Philadelphia Seminary staff was the guest organist and led a choir of pastors and spouses. There were probably nearly 500 people present, many of whom were Jack's former students.

Six colleagues/friends shared "selected reflections:" Phil Krey (Philadelphia Seminary president), Foster McCurley (former seminary faculty colleague), Wally Taylor (former student, now Trinity Seminary professor), Peter Pettit (former student, now director of Muhlenberg College's Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding), Joe Fitzmyer (former professor, Catholic U of America and member of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue team), and Lowell Almen (former secretary, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Lowell also represented ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson. I saw five bishops in the congregation plus Muhlenberg College President Randy Helm, among many others.

The service was followed by a reception in our Hyson Hall. The reception was catered by Philadelphia Seminary. After the reception, Jack's ashes were committed into Trinity's columbarium.

My contact with Dr. Reumann goes back to my days as a student at Muhlenberg College where Jack served many years on the Board of Directors. As one of the first two student representatives to the Board (with Blake Marles) I was welcomed warmly by Dr. Reumann. As many know, he and his wife, Martha, were noted for their hospitality to all.

My favorite Jack Reumann story is not well known, but tells something important about this man: In the early 1960's (before my years at Muhlenberg) Muhlenberg students regularly hosted famous and sometimes controversial speakers for all-college assemblies. One of these speakers was the "beat" poet, LeRoy Jones, who was noted for his graphic language. At the end of his presentation, Jones gave the audience the finger and repeated the "f" word three times.

This action, reported in the Allentown "Morning Call" newspaper, resulted in many calls in the Lehigh Valley (including a "Morning Call" editorial) for a crack down on speakers on the Muhlenberg campus. Somehow, Dr. Reumann and the Rev. Dr. Paul Empie (who later served as chair the the Muhlenberg Board while I was a trustee) were assigned the task of writing a new student speaker policy. Instead of coming back with a new policy that limited speech on campus, Empie and Reumann produced a policy that guaranteed campus free speech. And, somehow, they got this policy approved by the Board! It stands as Muhlenberg's free speech policy today.

Dr. John "Jack" H.P. Reumann - pastor, professor, scholar, leader AND champion of free speech!

It was my privilege to know Dr. Reumann and now is my privilege to serve in his "home congregation."