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Sunday, June 26, 2011

 

35 Years of Ordained Lutheran Ministry - June 23, 2011

This past Thursday, June 23, was the 35th anniversary of my ordination as a Lutheran pastor! Appropriately for my ministry, I spent the next day with Roman Catholics since Odyssey Networks was sponsoring the interfaith awards for radio and television in the 2011 (Roman Catholic) Gabriel Awards which were presented Friday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I was ordained with a group of others, including the first woman ordained by the LCA NE PA Synod, at St. John's Lutheran Church in Boyertown, Pennsylvania on the evening of June 23, 1976. Bishop Wilson Touhsaent, my "spiritual father" who had baptized and confirmed me as pastor of Atonement Lutheran Church in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, ordained me, assisted by his assistant, the Rev. Harold Weiss. (Weiss became the next synod bishop and I later served for nine years as his assistant). The preacher for the ordination service, the Rev. Elton Richards, then one of the best-known Lutheran preachers, told us about an elderly pastor friend who loved playing cards with his friends, but would only do so with all the shades of his or their home drawn so that no one would see that he was playing cards. Richards challenged us to live our lives as pastors "with the shades up," not hiding our personal and professional lives lives, but sharing them with others.

In my 35 years of ordained ministry, I have tried to live my life in ministry "with the shades up!"

I have served as pastor of congregations quite small and very large. I have been on a Lutheran synod (regional) staff and the churchwide (national) staff. Ecumenical and interfaith communication work has been a cornerstone of my professional and volunteer ministry and currently is my full time ministry at Odyssey Networks for which I am pleased to have a call from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Working for justice and feeding the hungry have been central to my life and ministry, all part of sharing God's love for this world and all of its (God's) people.

My ministry has taken me across the USA and around the world (Europe, Africa, Central and South America and the Middle East). I have met Popes, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Kings. I have led workshops across the USA and in Europe and taught in South Africa and Madagascar. I have produced weekly television and radio programs and shared in bringing back a children's television stop-motion animation icon through which I have met some of the best (and worst) people in Hollywood. (I even was once criticized by name by Jerry Falwell, something of which I am very proud!)

I have been privileged to have been supervised by some of the finest men and women - bishops, presiding bishops, communication directors, journalists, CEO's, COO's and many others.

Through it all I have been loved and supported by my wife, Kris, and blessed by wonderful friends and staff colleagues.

At worship this morning we sang the wonderful old hymn, "Blessed Assurance," which has the chorus, "This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long."

That continues to be my hope and prayer for my ordained ministry! With the shades open!

Only for the Glory of God,

Eric

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