Aussie Paster for Zion

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The ministers of the Lutheran Church—Canada who were present for the induction of Rev. Michael Pietsch, left to right, Rev. Peter Van Katwyk, Pastor of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Red Deer; Rev. Don Schiemann, District President for Alberta and B.C.; Rev. Michael Pietsch from Australia; Rev. Garry Dombrosky, Chaplain of Concordia University College in Edmonton; and Rev. Al Lewis, Pastor of the Lutheran Church in Rimbey and Circuit Councillor

    Zion Lutheran Church in Wetaskiwin welcomed Rev. Michael Pietsch, from Australia, as their Interim Pastor for the next six months.  The Induction Service for Pastor Pietsch was held at the church the afternoon of  Sunday, February 10th.   Lutheran Church—Canada ministers present for the service were: Rev. Don Schiemann, District President for Alberta and B.C.; Rev. Al Lewis, Circuit Councillor and Pastor at Rimbey; Rev. Garry Dombrosky, Chaplain of Concordia University College in Edmonton; and Rev. Peter Van Katwyk, Pastor of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Red Deer.  

    Rev. Schiemann delivered the sermon for the Induction Service.  He based it upon the gospel passage for this Sunday in the Christian Year, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration as told in Luke 9:28-36, and noted that this is the Gospel incident which has given us the idiomatic expression,, “a mountain-top experience.”  He mentioned his trip to Australia to speak at a retreat about a year ago, and how contact made then led to the Pietsches coming to Zion.     The core of his message was that all people in all places are equally sinners in thought, word, and deed which separates from God, and therefore all are in need of a saviour, Jesus, who died the death of all sinners so that all who accept Him may be reconciled to God and become the righteousness of God.  He concluded with the desire that the time here for the Peitsches be a good time to preach and teach about Jesus.

    Pastor Peitsch was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and was a parish pastor there for nine years.  For four years, he was a chaplain to a Government High School, a secular school with a recognized partnership with the church to serve the community as a whole.  For the last 19 years, he has been a Lutheran chaplain to secular universities in Adelaide, in four of which he was the coordinating chaplain.  In another nine he was a part time chaplain.  In his own university days, he was part of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in Canada) as well as part of the Lutheran student organization.  Clearly, he comes with tremendous experience of interacting with people from many backgrounds and worldviews, which equips him to provide leadership in the church which he sees as part of the community and needing to be involved, engaged, listening and responding to needs in the community.  His experience also equips him for  important engagement with Christians about faith, particularly in light of the way in which the new atheism has become more pronounced during the last decade because of Dawkin and others.  

    Pastor Pietsch and his wife, Helen, have three adult children.  The eldest son, 29, is house sitting while they are away, and is completing his PhD in biophysics.  The next son is 27, married, and works in Canberra as an economist with the Australian treasury, with their first baby, a little girl, born since Mike and Helen left Australia.  Their daughter is 22, just married, and lives in Melbourne.  All three are continuing in their Lutheran faith, active in churches, bringing joy and pride to Mike and Helen.  Helen Peitsch is a vibrant, well-spoken lady with a doctorate.  The Pietsch home in Adelaide is on a hill in the suburbs with a view of beaches and a small back yard with fruit trees and a vegetable garden.  Adelaide is a city about the size of Edmonton in the Australian state of South Australia, the driest state on the driest continent.  Some vegetation can survive along the coast where some crops can be raised.  Mining, especially uranium, is important.

    While here, Pastor Peitsch wants to be a faithful witness to the centrality of grace and love and to share this message with the community.  May God bless and guide him and his wife while they are here.

    Note:  The Watoto African Children's Choir will give a concert at the Zion Lutheran Church in Wetaskiwin on Thursday, February 21st, at 7:00 pm.  Zion is inviting the community to join in for this special evening.  Come and expect a great program.

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