"June and the Women of the Lutheran Church"
- Published on Friday, 09 October 2015 15:17
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(Martin Luther - Time Magazine Cover - 24 March 1967)
Recently I read an interesting article called “Women and the Reformation” …”Then and Now”…(The Lutheran) This page has resulted from that reading and is my review of the place of women in the Christian church…and in particular my church, the Redeemer Lutheran Church of Fridley, Minnesota.
The article made me proud to be a Lutheran Protestant Christian…The article began by referencing two Bible versus that related to God’s creation of man and woman.
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.”
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”…but it is said that the reformation period was a mixed bag for women…but looking at it in a positive light, it was the first real step forward…
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.
(Photo of Martin Luther's wife Katie on the right)
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:
“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”…
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.
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 years…
(Photo of Angela Merkel on the right)
Recently 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.
Why the Catholics still remain in the dark ages in regard to women in their Church is a big puzzle to me…a recent talk by the new Pope Francis gave me reason to believe there would be change…but that seems to have died and the Vatican remains the men’s club it has always been…No women serve as priests or in higher positions…
Just as I finished this page on Women in the Lutheran Church, a news item appeared in the Minneapolis Star - Tribune about Sweden's first female Archbishop. (12 October 2015)...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.
June in the Lutheran Church
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…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 Chapel 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.
(Photo of June K. Berg on the right...1966)
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 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 of how June was paired with him on an evangelism team to call on Redeemer Church members and visitors in the 1970’s...Dean describes June as:
“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."
As God closed June's book of life I am sure he said: ...:"Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
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 them to re-evaluate their remaining life together...rather then become a part of the "Memory Cafe's" scene 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...they made their "bucket list" and they did them all...they lived life to the fullest...most of the relatives and family friends did not even realize that June had Alzheimer's...they celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2002...beginning in 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 her 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'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 Alzheimer's darkness and as June lay like a wounded and exhausted soldier on a field of battle, that 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!
For the complete story of June's life and her love for the Lutheran Church click on the below link:
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.."
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: