Brought up to know and confess Jesus as his Savior, Robert pursued the public ministry in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Preparations for becoming a Christian pastor took place at Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Springfield, Illinois, from which he graduated in 1945.
“The miracle of Christian faith is not that Christians are given the ability to trust in some object but that they are given the ability to turn from trusting vain works and instead to trust CHRIST and His work alone for their salvation. The act of trusting in something is not miraculous, but the act of trusting in CHRIST as the Savior is miraculous, because no man can say that JESUS is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost….”
The above words are from an oft-quoted essay among us, “The Danger of Emphasizing FAITH at the Expense of the OBJECT of Faith, CHRIST,” by Pastor Mackensen to his brethren in the CLC ministry in the early 1960’s, reprinted in the Journal of Theology, February 1964.
After his vicarage at Concordia Lutheran Church, Akron, Ohio, Pastor Mackensen proceeded to serve an LC-MS congregation in Missoula, Mont. (1945-49); as chaplain at a School for the Deaf, Delavan, Wis. (1949-55); and a quadruple parish of Kirby, Knapp, Danavang, and Shennington, Wis. (1955-59).
A significant change of direction would take place in Pastor Mackensen’s ministry when, for reasons of conscience grounded in God’s pure Word and doctrine, he became a charter member/pastor of the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC). Within this confessional fellowship the congregations he served were Trinity, Millston, Wis. (1959-’67), Our Redeemer’s, Red Wing, Minn. (1967-’74), Salem, Eagle Lake, Minn. (1974-’78), Mt. Olive, Lamar, Colo. (1978-’84), and Living Word, Hendersonville, N.C. (1984-1989). As has been customary in the CLC, during retirement Pastor “Mack” served pastoral vacancies in Caledonia, Minn., Hales Corners, Wis., and St. Cloud, Minn.
At pastor’s side all along the journey home was wife Lois (nee Harnack) whom he married on January 27, 1945. In 1989 they retired to Red Wing. Surviving are the four children given them by the Lord (Ruth Amundson, Laurie Gutzman, Sarah Schmidt, Norman Mackensen) who, in turn, are parents to nine grandchildren. Lois preceded her husband to glory with Jesus on October 12, 2010.
At their father and grandfather’s request, the following statement was read by the pastor at the memorial service conducted on Friday, May 18, at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Red Wing: “Stay close to your Jesus and to each other. I’ll be waiting for you all.”
For his comforting gospel message Pastor David Baker used the text chosen by his brother Robert: 1 Corinthians 15:54-58, with theme: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”