Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn fell asleep in Jesus this past Friday. As a graduate of the Missouri Synod’s “other” seminary (Ft. Wayne, IN), I did not have Dr. Feuerhahn as an instructor. I was privileged to sit in on one of his classes during a student government visit to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, in January of 2000.
There is one moment where our paths crossed when Dr. Feuerhahn showed me genuine pastoral care in both law and gospel.
I attended the 2007 Concordia Catechetical Academy conference. Dr. Feuerhahn was one of the speakers. My father-in-law joined me for the conference since he lived down I-94 from where the conference was held. During the panel discussion I wanted to show my father-in-law, as well as everyone in the room, just how “confessional” I was. I made some rather angry statements about the state of being a confessional Lutheran in the Missouri Synod. It was not one of my finest hours.
Dr. Feuerhahn took the microphone and proceeded, in a pastoral way, to preach the law to me. It was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life…and it was very public. I should not have lost my temper and showed off in front of lay people. He reminded me of that in no uncertain terms. I apologized for my behavior and he forgave me.
After the panel discussion, Dr. Feuerhahn asked over the microphone to speak to me privately. I went to the dais and spoke with him. He told me why he said what he said. It was important for a pastor not to lose his temper in front of lay people. He also asked me about my congregation in Momence (I had been installed here about three months prior). His dear friend (and mine) Scott Bruzek was pastor here in the mid-1990s. Dr. Feuerhahn served as liturgist that day in August of 1993 when Pastor Bruzek was ordained and installed here. He then spoke kindly to me and gave me encouragement. The mists of time have shrouded exactly what was said.
The last time I saw Dr. Feuerhahn was at my friend Jacob Ehrhard’s installation at Trinity Church in New Haven, Missouri in the summer of 2013. Though Parkinson’s Disease had ravaged his body, his mind remained sharp. He vested for the installation and even stood up to say a word of blessing that day.
I’ve written elsewhere about the time some friends of mine and I imposed ourselves on his seminary home for sherry, snacks, and conversation. I’ll let that story go for now. Needless to say I cherish his signature in the copy of his festschrift that sits on my study shelf.
May he rest in peace…and he does.