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Last Spring’s Seminary Graduates

At the request of the Spokesman, our four new pastors submitted biographical information about themselves. We thank them.

George Dummann

To a new pastor, his time may seem to be at more of a premium than when in school. Rather than being a student first and receiver of information, he is instead a dispenser of it. But there could be no better way to spend a person’s short days on this earth, for it is precious information which we’ve been entrusted with–the Gospel of God’s love in Christ for all people.

This Gospel was ultimately the largest factor leading this new pastor from the open spaces of South Dakota to further study towards the Lord’s work. All members of the family had been farmers since they immigrated from overseas. There was no long line of pastors in the family to follow after. Other more familiar fields could certainly provide an enjoyable and fulfilling life.

But living on the land gives opportunity to do a lot of thinking–thinking that elevates to things more important than why the wheat price isn’t rebounding to how privileged a life to be God’s own and to have what the world around us needs, and ultimately wants.

It doesn’t take long to realize that we’ve got a job far higher than those who are “of the world.” We can influence a change in life, to eternal life.

The Lord also uses fellow human beings as role models to influence us. Pastor Dummann had a number of significant role models: a former pastor who confirmed him; an uncle who pastored in South Dakota and as the CLC missionary in Nigeria; a grandfather, George Dummann, who gave words of encouragement, lived his faith, and spoke often of a need for those who could serve the Lord publicly.

It always seemed like a long way from Summit, S.Dak. to Eau Claire, Wis. And so different. The people, the countryside–nothing was quite as open and free as back home. But the Lord also gives perseverance. Near the end of the 1998 spring term, He called student George Dummann to be His ambassador in Valentine, Nebr. Words cannot express the appreciation for the Lord’s hand in placing His servant among the kind of people he grew up with and in an area which did much to shape his thinking in life.

Pastor Dummann serves full-time as pastor at Grace in Valentine, Nebr. He has also been serving as interim pastor in Mission and White River, S.Dak. He is a fan of wildlife and western art. He enjoys hunting, and he hopes to be flying again very soon.

Mark Gurath

This past May Mark David Gurath, son of David and Carol Gurath, graduated from Immanuel Lutheran Seminary, completing eleven continuous years of education at Immanuel.

From his birth on January 2, 1973 until his recent graduation, Mark has been blessed with Christian education. He was born in the Chicago area, and baptized in the CLC church there.

His grade school education came from public schools until the second grade when his family moved to Fond du Lac, Wis. Mark received his grade school education in Luther Memorial School and was also confirmed there.

He then traveled three and a half hours north to Eau Claire each spring to further his education, graduating from Immanuel High School in 1991 and from the College department in 1995. He entered the Seminary the following fall.

While in the Seminary, Mark vicared under Pastor David Schierenbeck at Berea of Inver Grove Heights, Minn. in 1996, and under Pastor Bruce Naumann at Faith of Markesan, Wis. in 1997.

It was at Immanuel that Mark met his wife, Lara (nee Heisel). The two were married at Messiah Lutheran Church in Eau Claire in June of 1997.

Since graduation from Seminary, Mark has been working full time hours at Menard’s Distribution Center in Eau Claire as well as serving as the “coordinator” of the preaching effort in the LaCrosse area, which has been holding worship services in a home in Brice Prairie, Wis.

As the size of the group continues to grow, so does the work that needs to be done in their midst. Mark is certainly growing along with this small group of Christians, as he conducts the worship services on the first and third Sundays of each month. (Editor’s note: Mark recently accepted the call of the Brice Prairie group to serve as its regular pastor; he was ordained and installed there on September 27th.)

May the Lord continue to be with Mark and Lara. They look forward to a life of full time service to the Lord when Lara graduates from the UW-Eau Claire School of Nursing this coming Spring.

Philip Matzke

Pastor Philip D. Matzke grew up in south central Minnesota on the farm his great-great-grandfather Carl Matzke had purchased in 1884 when he and his family immigrated from Germany.

Philip helped his father and brothers on the farm raising beef cattle, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. He did this each summer and during vacations until he graduated from seminary this spring. He has three brothers and two sisters.

Philip attended an LC-MS parochial grade school in Good Thunder, Minn. (K-8) and was confirmed in 1982. His parents desired that he continue his Lutheran education. As a result Philip came in contact with the CLC, attending Immanuel High School in Mankato where his grandparents are members. Although he became acquainted with the CLC, he did not join the congregation until years later.

After high school he attended Bethany Lutheran College (ELS), earning an A.A. in Liberal Arts. With the two-year degree, he transferred to an LC-MS college, Concordia-St. Paul. In 1990 he earned a B. A. in Liberal Arts, minoring in history and music. After graduation he returned to the farm where he hoped to pursue a career.

One and a half years after graduating, the Lord led Philip through His Word to break fellowship with the LC-MS. He joined Immanuel, Mankato. A year later, in the fall of 1993, he enrolled at ILC, entering both the teaching and pre-theological programs.

In 1994, he decided to drop the teaching program and continue in pre-theological studies, trusting that if the Lord wanted him in this field He would provide the knowledge and finances to complete the course. The Lord did bless him, and in the spring of this year he graduated from the seminary. On May 31, St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Stambaugh, Michigan was led to call him and he accepted the call to serve as its pastor.

The ordination and installation service took place on July 19, 1998. Prof. Paul Schaller conducted the service. Prof. Clifford Kuehne, Pastor Joel Fleischer, and congregation president Martin Heisel assisted in the installation.

May the Lord bless His servant and the congregation He has appointed him to serve.

Todd Ohlmann

Todd Ohlmann was born on June 17, 1968 To Don and Joyce Ohlmann in Valentine, Nebraska. He was baptized and confirmed at Grace Lutheran Church in Valentine. Todd has two sisters: Candice Ohlmann (who teaches at St. John’s Lutheran School in Okabena, Minn.) and Desirae Naumann (wife of Pastor David Naumann who serves the CLC congregation in Ketchikan, Alaska). Todd’s brother Craig works at Ohlmann Building Center in Valentine.

Most of Todd’s elementary years were spent at Grace Lutheran School in Valentine. He attended one year of high school in Valentine, but then graduated from Immanuel Lutheran High School in 1986.

After high school Todd joined the U.S. Army reserves, in which he has served for 8 1/2 years. He received training in business management at Eau Claire Technical Institute. On June 11, 1989 he and Beth (Maginnis) were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Winter Haven, Fla. They returned to Valentine where Todd spent 2 1/2 years working in the family lumber business.

In August of 1992 Todd and Beth returned to Eau Claire where Todd attended Immanuel Lutheran College and Seminary in preparation for the public ministry. He graduated from the Pre-theological course in 1995 and from the Seminary in May of 1998. Beth has been working toward a degree in nursing, and intends to pursue that degree at Maryville University in St. Louis.

Todd served as vicar in Eau Claire and in Millston, Wis. As part of his vicaring program he was given the opportunity to accompany the CLC visitation team to India and Nigeria. What a rewarding experience this was — to share the precious Gospel with the members of our CLC foreign missions!

Todd was assigned, and accepted, the divine call to serve as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Ballwin, Mo. At Faith, Pastor and Mrs. Ohlmann with their two sons (Joshua, age 8 and Caleb, 8 months) look forward to serving the Lord.

(Taken from the bulletin of installation)