Celebrating retirement & new beginnings: Interview with Pastor Schulze

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Pastor Bob Schulze, Executive Assistant to the President, has announced his retirement to begin September 1. Pastor Schulze has served the District faithfully since 2016, and he served Minnesota parishes in Bloomington, Worthington, and Lakeville and Canadian parishes in Campbell River and Abbotsford, British Columbia, for 40 years prior.

When asked about the impact Pastor Schulze has had at the District office, President Woodford said the following:

Bob has been a tremendous blessing to me! His rich pastoral experience and wisdom, combined with his genuine compassion and authentic interest in seeing people succeed has aided me tremendously in my transition to being a District president.

Bob is always the calmest person in the room, and always full of deep insight and reflection. His love for Jesus is readily apparent, and he loves to gently share that with others through word and deed.

His servant heart is evident through and through, and he has been a joy to learn from. He and his wife Beth literally wash feet—regularly caring for the feet of the homeless at shelters during the winter months.

I always look forward to spending time with Bob, having thoughtful conversations about ministry and the work of our District, but also in sharing life together by talking about family and life’s ups and downs.

Bob is a gentle and humble soul, gifted with a wonderful way of engaging with people in any circumstance. He is and has been a wonderful blessing to the church, to the District, and certainly to me. Thank you, Bob! God bless you and keep you in all that you do (Psalm 121).

We invite you to keep reading for an interview reflection with Pastor Schulze about his ministry at the District office and what he’s looking forward to in retirement.

What have you enjoyed during your time at the District office?

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve Christ and His Church in the Minnesota South District. These past three years have been a great blessing. What a thrill to see God’s work from a larger perspective than the single congregation. It has been a privilege to have been invited to come alongside congregations, their leaders, and their called workers in times of both great joy and excruciating transitions. I’ve seen God work powerfully in both! I’ve enjoyed getting to know so many new people and to see their love for Christ expressed in so many ways.

I love my colleagues on the District staff. What an amazing, gifted, talented, dedicated, committed group of people. I will sorely miss my daily interactions with them. I’m so thankful for the great blessings God gave me as we studied God’s Word together, shared faith and life together, and passionately sought to serve God’s people across the District.

How have you seen God at work during your time at the District office?

These are changing, challenging times for the church. In fact, in many ways, these are times unlike anything we have experienced before. God is presenting us with incredible opportunities, opportunities sometimes wrapped up in what looks an awful lot like a problem! I’ve discovered that those are really good places to see God at work. He doesn’t waste hurts or problems but uses them to drive His mission and to bless His Church.

What encouragement would you like to offer to our District’s pastors, commissioned ministers, and lay congregation members?

I find great encouragement in Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Our tendency is to think too small, especially when we face large challenges or difficult times. But God is at work; God is able and willing to do more than we can even imagine. We can’t think big enough! What hope that gives us; what confidence to move forward in faith!

What will you remember about your 44 years of ministry?

How fast 44 years goes by! Who would have thought! Through it all, God’s love and faithfulness stand out. What a beautiful Savior we have. I’m still amazed that He chooses to work through people like us to proclaim the Gospel and grow His church. The relationships formed over those years will endure for time and eternity.

What are you looking forward to in retirement?

I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife! Beth and I love to camp, and we love to travel. I’m planning to jump-start retirement with a bit of both. Along the way, we’re planning on spending significant time seeing our kids and grandkids.

Though this marks an end to my formal ministry, it certainly doesn’t mean the end of ministry. I’m looking forward to a time of prayerful reflection, seeking God’s leading as I enter this new chapter in my life. I haven’t quite wrapped my mind around this yet! God still has a lot to teach me.

Thank you, Pastor Schulze!

Those who would like to celebrate Pastor Schulze’s District ministry are invited to an informal service and reception at 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 18, at Messiah Lutheran Church in Lakeville.

Keep an eye out in August for an introduction to Pastor Stefan Wismar, who will succeed Pastor Schulze as Executive Assistant to the President.