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"June and the Women of the Lutheran Church"

 Martin Luther

Martin Luther

(A 1529 Painting of Martin Luther)

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Women and The Reformation Period

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This page has resulted from my review and my perception of the place of women in the Christian Lutheran church…and in particular my church, the Redeemer Lutheran Church of Fridley, Minnesota.

I begin this study by referencing two Bible versus that relates to God’s creation of man and woman.

I am also happy to see that Martin Luther is the first Christian to strike a blow for the equality of women in the Christian Church..

The Bible clearly establishes the equality of both men and women.

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Genesis 1:27:  “So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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Jesus and Women

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While the original 12 disciples were men, Jesus was surrounded by bright women, some of which were referred to as his disciples...including his Mother Mary, there are six referred to in the scriptures…Mary Magdalene, ...Mary Salome, ...Martha Sister of Lazarus, ...Miriamne Sister of Phillip and Arsinoe.

The cited Bible passages do not suggest that women are to have a lower or secondary position in God’s world…Luther was a champion for women as evidenced by the reformation period he spawned…”he insisted that all Christians, not just some, share by faith in the same spiritual priesthood”…

While it has been said that the reformation period was a mixed bag for women,…it was the first real step forward and Martin Luther was the man responsible...it was all a part of the "Reformation Period".

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Martin Luther's Wife "Katie"

Katie

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In the middle ages the life of a nun, monk or priest was seen as a higher calling then married life of the average person…the reformation rejected this and “instead praised both marriage and parenthood as worthy callings for all Christians”…It was also said that the Christian Church had for centuries taught that the prime purpose of marriage was reproduction and an outlet for sexual desires…

Luther promoted a new understanding of marriage as a “Loving, faithful companionship.”…the reformation also promoted the education for both boys and girls…this concept was described as “astonishing for the time” as previously only boys of “higher social or economic status” received an education…Luther also recommended reading the scriptures by everyone Luther for the first time, translated the Bible into German to facilitate such reading..

It is said that by the 2nd generation of the Reformation, more than 90 percent of pastors wives were now literate.

Luther was deeply in love with his wife Katie (Katharina von Bora) who he also very much respected for her many talents…His wife Katie was one of the nuns that Luther helped escape from their convent when they wrote to him asking his help. Katie not only acted as his housewife but was said to be a:

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“manager of a mid sized business, fed a household of family, student boarders and frequent guests and also purchased land, raised crops and livestock, made beer and wine and handled all the household finances”

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Luther attempted to leave Katie all of their life’s belongings and their funds in his will when he died…”a move that was unheard of at a time when it was assumed that a widow needed a guardian to act on her behalf”…in fact the local authorities later refused to honor his will request…Katie died 6 years later in 1552.

One can say that following the changes brought about by Luther’s reformation period and in the church named in his honor, women have come a long way.

Currently (2015), 77 percent of the church bodies in the Lutheran World Federation ordain women

Since October 2014 there has been a series of seminars in Wittenberg, Germany for women from Africa, Central and Latin America and most of Asia and the former Eastern bloc on the “Reformation and the Empowerment of Women”…discussed is gender based discrimination and the need for change in the make up of the church administrative functions and leadership.

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Germany's Angela Merkel

AngelaMerkel

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In today’s world, there are many strong women who are Lutheran Christian believers…one of which is Angela Merkel.

It is interesting to note that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was raised as a Lutheran pastor’s daughter and is now ranked by Forbes as one of the most powerful women in the world for 9 of the last 10 yearsRecently in response to a student of Theology’s question, she stated:

“I am a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church…I believe in God, and Religion is also my constant companion and has been for the whole of my life.

I have always been an admirer of this lady and never realized that she was a devout Lutheran or that her father was a Lutheran Pastor.

 

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Sweden's Antje Jackelen

Antje Jackelen

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On 12 October 2015, a news item in the Minneapolis Star featured a story about Sweden's first female Archbishop.

It was the story of the Baptism of Sweden's Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf (Born 4 months earlier) at the Chapel of Drottingholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden and as conducted by the Lutheran Archbishop Antje Jackelen...

A picture in the story  shows the Archbishop holding the newly baptized Prince Nicolas.  Antje Jackelen's official title is "Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala"...she was previously Bishop of Lund.

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ELCA's Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton

E. Eaton 

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On 14 August 2013, Elizabeth A. Eaton was elected to the position of Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (ELCA)

At the time of her election  Bishop Eaton was the ELCA Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod. She is married to the Reverend Conrad Selnick an Episcopal Priest.

As a native of Cleveland, she received a Master of Divinity Degree from Harvard Divinity School. 

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June and the Lutheran Church

June

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June and I have belonged to the Redeemer Lutheran Church of Fridley since 1957…June’s membership was over 50 years at her death and mine is now 58 years and counting…I owe my faith to June’s inspiration…

At Redeemer we currently have a lady pastor on our church staff…("Terri") we have trained a number of women as interns for pastoral positions over the past few years…The current Bishop of the ELCA is a women as is the Minneapolis Synod’s Bishop.

June as one who loved the Lutheran church, was and remains my inspiration for everything I do in the Redeemer Lutheran Church…June pulled a very heavy oar in the church…

June is the reason that the old original Chapel is still a part of the Redeemer campus and the focal point of the Church’s 100 year celebration for the year 2016…June’s intervention in 2004 with the Church Board and the Pastoral staff prevented the old Chapel’s planned removal and destruction…it was badly in need of repair and it did not fit in well with the other newer church buildings…June also funded the complete restoration of the  old church and created a special fund set up for that purpose…”The June K. Berg, Old Chaple Repair Fund”…it is currently well funded…

June’s work at Redeemer left me often wondering, how could she do it all and still be the great wife, mother and grandmother that she is…”Yes, I am bragging about June…”

In the early 1960's, June served as a Girl Scout Leader for the Girl Scout Troop then sponsored by Redeemer…When help was needed in the Sunday school, (1973-1974) June volunteered to teach the third grade. In the 1970s, June was active in the church "Bell" choir….later, June acted as a "Meals on Wheels" church volunteer that delivered meals to the elderly in the immediate church area. June and a church friend Mary Ellen Luckow, served as volunteers to the Lynwood Nursing Home every Wednesday evening…June was also active in the church "Ruth" and later the "Rebecca" circles and took her turn hosting meetings in our home…she often served as chairwoman.

June was part of a weekday afternoon ministry to the Fridley Convalescent Nursing Home. June also served a year on the Redeemer Church Board...June was also a member of the  Service and the Nominating Committee's. June was one of the volunteers to the Marie Sandvik Mission in downtown Minneapolis…When requested, June was also  a model at a Redeemer church ladies fashion show... June was often a Sunday Greeter at the church door…occasionally she assisted with the Sunday coffee hour…June a "Lutefisk" fan, often assisted with the preparation of the annual Lutefisk and Meatball Dinners…For six years (1992-1998) June participated in the International BSF Bible Study Fellowship…

Dean Eberhard of Redeemer told me of how June was paired with him on an evangelism team during what was called the "Evangelism Explosion" church program...they called on Redeemer Church members and visitors in the 1970’s...Dean describes June as:

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“I remember for June, presenting the gospel was a very natural thing for her to do. People felt comfortable (not threatened) with her because she was so genuine and related effectively with them. Her love for the Lord shone through her as she conversed with the people...she had a special spirit about her and always smiling."

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As God closed June's book of life I am sure he said:

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"Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

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 The Alzheimer's Years

It Was in 1997 that June had called for her own diagnosis when she noted short term memory problems...the diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer's in January 1998 caused June and Stan to re-evaluate their remaining life together...rather then become a part of the "Memory Cafe's" scenes where everyone was a constant reminder of Alzheimer's, they decided to make the most of their remaining years together before the disease took control...

June and Stan made their "bucket list" and they did them all...they did those things that they put off doing during their forensic science days...they lived life to the fullest...They visited Hawaii an they took a bus trip to Branson during the Christmas Season...they made a last goodbye visit to their friends in the UK...most of the relatives and family friends did not even realize that June had Alzheimer's...they celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2002...June was in her 6th year of the disease but still in the early stages...

Beginning in the year 2004 and later, Alzheimer's started slowly taking control...there after, Stan lost June tear drop by tear drop...as June slowly slipped into the shadows of Alzheimer's...eventually June was in a world where Stan could no longer reach her!...this was the saddest of times.

Before June's Alzheimer's diagnosis their world and June's character and personality was represented by a vast sea of bright and beautiful lights. After June's Alzheimer's diagnosis, these bright lights all begin to slowly dim. As June slowly slipped deeper into the shadows of Alzheimer's, the lights gradually flickered out one by one. Eventually the time came during the last two years of June's life, when the brightness that marked their world and June’s life was replaced by one of darkness...

For the last year of June's life she was almost totally non-responsive and could not walk or talk or use her hands and arms...June had difficulty eating...June just sat with her eyes closed.

June's hand gently cupped over mine and her soft voice telling me:  "I love you Stan" were then just memories.

It was late 2008 after a 12 year journey into the darkness of Alzheimer's and as June lay like a wounded and exhausted soldier on a field of battle, God gently touched June's shoulder and she heard the words: "Come Home June!"

June's passing was as if a most beautiful symphony that played during June and Stan's life together, had now ceased to exist!

  

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For the complete story of June's life and her love for the  Lutheran Church click on the below link:

"June's Life Long Love for the Lutheran Church"

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Reader's Comments 

John Stevens  - Twin Falls, Idaho - (9 October 2015): "Great read about a great lady." 

Lori McAllister Fox - Silverton, Oregon - (10 October 2015): "Proud to be a Lutheran woman myself!"

Billie Hays - Cleveland, Ohio - (10 October 2015):"I hardly ever post...but i remember thinking what a wonderful & attractive woman June was as I read your page."

Bertha Dusenberry - West Lafayette, Ohio - (10 October 2015): "Such a nice article Stan.June certainly sounds like she was a remarkable person, one I would have loved to have met. I am sure she would have given me a better understanding on a lot of things. Her love, faith and gentle kind ways of living her well lived life show's on her face in her pictures. What a beautiful lady inside and out. Thank you for sharing this with us...loved it."

Debbie Shoenfelt - Johnsville, Ohio - (10 October 2015):"Finally checked my mail Stanton, you put so much work into it and your such a wonderful writer, enjoyed learning about the Lutheran Church...June, a beautiful lady."

Heather Gray-Gately - Dublin, Ireland - (11 October 2015):"Very interesting read Stan! Thank you for sharing your love of June with so many! It's so inspiring!"

Don Fox - Blaine, Minnesota - (15 October 2015): "Your articles on the above subjects (Lutheran Women) are very well done! Thank you for sharing them.."

Mary Farmer - Mount Airy, North Carolina - (7 July 2017): "Women of strength always impress me and I never feel as powerful or strong or smart as them! Just one of my personal weaknesses, I know, but women of strength are all around me too! Thank you, Stanton, for reminding mine of that fact! My Mama was one of those women! She was married young, had health issues after my Daddy returned from WWII and recovered! She had five children with him then became a widow at the young age of about 41. She still taught me, her youngest, that love goes beyond the veil of death and that marriage is forever if you want it to be so! My dedication to my husband is a direct result of her lifelong example of loving my Daddy! God uses the quiet ones to teach others often and my strong Mama was an example of that for me! Time to remind some women how important they are in my life thanks to your shading this post! Sweet dreams and good night."

Phyllis Skocik Gallagher - Frackville, Pennsylvania -  (7 July 2017):"Without strong women, where would we all be? Thankful I came from women greatly influenced by my great great grandmother who came to the US in 1865, when her husband left, she baked to earn a living. My sister still uses her sticky bun recipe. The following generations marched for women to vote, equality, and I marched this January to continue the tradition."

 

 

 

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June's Passing

June 1994

After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam"

 

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