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Karl E. Lutze: Into a Wider World

Karl E. Lutze

As we mourn the passing of ALOA’s first executive director Karl Lutze, one of ALOA’s founders, Rev. Robert Zimmer, shared the following history and personal reflections.

Karl E. Lutze was born on June 24, 1920 into a tight knit Lutheran community in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, but God planned to take him “into a wider world”...to borrow the title of Karl’s most recent book. A visionary church leader, Karl Lutze passed away peacefully at home in Valparaiso, Indiana on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at the age of 94.

A 1945 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Karl’s enduring pastoral ministry spanned a period of history marked by incredible change in every sphere of American life – social, economic and religious. Blessed with a keen mind, a compassionate heart and boundless energy, Karl remained active throughout his 70-year ministry as parish pastor, civil rights leader, university professor, public speaker, author, and as the first executive director of (ALOA) Adult Lutherans Organized for Action. He was truly destined to be part of God’s “wider world”.

Upon graduating from the seminary Karl was assigned to the Oklahoma District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and for the next 14 years served as pastor of Black congregations in Muskogee and Tulsa; his world quickly began to widen. In 1959 he accepted a position on the staff of Lutheran Human Relations Association of America (LHRAA), a national inter-Lutheran agency focused on improving race relations through the Lutheran church. LHRAA was located at Valparaiso University, where Karl became a theology professor.

Karl became the executive director of LHRAA at a time that was among the most volatile times of the civil rights movement in America. He traveled the length and breadth of the country working tirelessly to sensitize God’s people to the sin of bigotry and racial prejudice, all in an effort to improve race relations; Karl’s world grew wider.

Known for his personal warmth, sincerity and his calming way of speaking and acting, Karl had an ability to get to the heart of the matter without being confrontational or condescending. He could stand firm on important issues, still showing conviction, courage and respect for the views of others. And Karl Lutze was not all serious or all business. He enjoyed a good laugh, and while not a joke teller per se, he delighted in telling humorous stories about his friends…and especially when the joke was on him.

In 1992 when ALOA looked to hire a full-time executive director, they turned to Karl Lutze who had recently retired from his position with LHRAA and also from his teaching post at Valparaiso University. At the age of 71, Karl took on yet another challenge…helping to launch ALOA, the new and innovative inter-Lutheran ministry whose focus would be on adults 50 years and older. Karl’s broad administrative experience and knowledge of the Lutheran church in America made him an excellent choice; he sort of knew everybody. At a time in life when many people choose to retire, Karl accepted the new challenge, moving ever further into a wider world.

In his five years of service with ALOA, Karl did a remarkable job of setting ALOA a flight – establishing the basic organizational structure; guiding the process of obtaining official status in the LCMS and the ELCA; initiating “Encore Times”, the official quarterly publication; launching the Lutherhostel program of week-long retreats; initiating the “Celebrate and Serve” awards – recognizing individual service achievements; and much more.

Karl Lutze was the proverbial Lutheran “energizer bunny”, always thinking and dreaming of ways to build up his family, his friends, his colleagues in ministry and the wider Church. His two books of soliloquies, “…a lot on my mind, Lord” (2005) and “We need to talk. Lord!” (2009) are beautiful, practical and timeless spiritual insights for personal and group meditation.

Faithfully supporting Karl along the way were his first wife Esther (nee Peters), who passed away in 1994, and his wife Gail (nee Jones) whom he married in 1996.

The Lord has been Karl’s dwelling place from the moment of his baptism, and now, once more…and finally, Karl Lutze has moved into one more dimension of God’s wider world…into his final dwelling place with Christ.

During his long life and ministry, Karl made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of people of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds. We thank God for giving us Karl Lutze to help lead us “into a wider world”.

 Soli Deo Gloria!

ELCA Foundation grant funds Faithfully Connected in Life’s Second Half

ALOA is embarking on an exciting new journey in communications thanks, in part, to the support and a grant from the Lutheran Services for the Elderly Endowment Fund at the ELCA Foundation. The project, Faithfully Connected in Life’s Second Half, will build electronic connections, including social media links between individuals and congregations. The goal is to share information, provide access to resources, spur online learning and connect those involved with and working in ministry with those age 50 and up. Read more in our Fall newsletter.

ALOA Announces Partnership in 2
Adult Ministry Learning Opportunities

Grow your Laity Leadership Skills
Attend Who Am I to Go to Pharaoh? Biblical Insights on Faithful Leadership this fall on campus or online through Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). This biblically-based, not-for-credit course was developed to equip and empower lay leaders and is being taught by the Rev. Dr. Robert B. Robinson, Anna Burkhalter Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at LTSP. There are 2 ways to attend:

  • On the LTSP Campus over five consecutive Saturdays, October 5 to November 2, 2013, from 10 a.m. to noon. Join Dr. Robinson live in the classroom to learn and share with class colleagues.
  • Online for five weeks beginning October 7. View course videos, participate in discussions forums with class colleagues, and other activities.

“Although the Bible is by no means a how-to manual for effective leadership, it does recount the stories of remarkable figures such as Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Ruth and Naomi, David, Solomon and Paul, who were called to provide leadership for Israel and the early Christian church,” Robinson notes. “At the core of their leadership was their faith in God and their resolution to lead people in ways in ways that were faithful to God’s will and desire. Participants in this series will study the biblical texts recounting the lives of these leaders, drawing inspiration from their examples and insights from the courses of actions they charted for their people.”

At the end of the successfully completed series, each participant will receive a certificate of completion or one CEU if requested. Videos will also be available separately for congregations that wish to use them for their own study programs.

The cost for the course is $200 for individuals enrolling for classroom or online study. The cost for congregational groups of two or more will be $250 per group.

See information about this course, and register online Ltsp.edu/AdultLearning-Leadership

Wired in the Word
Concordia Seminary’s “Wired in the Word” series is producing a Bible Study for use with adult study groups. R. Reed Lessing and Robert W. Weise of Concordia’s faculty have teamed with Walter M. Schoedel of Lutheran Senior Services, St. Louis, Mis­souri, to produce Aging in Christ.

Session One: Aging in the Church will set the agenda for the following four sessions by asking and answering key questions related to demographic change, the challenges and opportunities this brings and a look at what we can learn from Holy Scripture.

Future sessions include: Aging with Grace, Aging and Death, Aging with Hope and Engaging the Aging. This course of study should be available for use in the late fall of 2013.

ALOA Annual Meeting, February 15, 2014

Adult Lutherans Organized for Action members formally elected new board members and officers in an annual meeting held February 14, 2014 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Tampa, Florida. Elected for three year terms were:

Dr. Mary Manz Simon, consultant, children’s market analyst, popular speaker, and author.
Rev. Vernon Gundermann, retired LCMS pastor who works with LSS, St. Louis, shepherding chaplains with ministries in senior communities.
Rev. Adele Resmer, with a nursing background and a degree in medical ethics, taught practical theology at a seminary (LTSP), and pastored congregations in Texas and Arizona.


Board members elected as Officers for 2014 were:

Shirley Carpenter – Board Chair
John Herman – President
David Maack – Vice President
Martha (Marty) Richards – Secretary

As the Board candidate for Treasure was unable to serve, former David Solberg, who has served as Treasurer for the past few years, will continue to serve until a new candidate is found and elected.

Might an IRA Charitable Rollover Work For You?

Congress extended legislation through December 31, 2013 that allows donors ages 70-1/2 and older to gift up to $100,000 from their IRAs to a qualified charity like ALOA. It’s easy to make a gift by directing your custodian to transfer a portion of your required minimum distribution directly to ALOA. Such a gift is not counted as part of your taxable income, so it is tax-free!

Helpful information is having your gift sent directly to ALOA at P.O. Box 4367, Clearwater, FL 33758. ALOA’s federal identification number is 36-3792551. Here is a brief summary of the details:

  • Your gift can be any amount up to $100,000.
  • Your gift can count toward your required minimum distribution.
  • You must be age 70-1/2 or older.
  • You must make a direct rollover to ALOA, not to your own bank or savings account.

Don’t miss this opportunity!

Karl Lutze Honored

Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota has announced that it will award Karl E. Lutze with an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree. The presentation was made during the University’s spring commencement ceremonies May 10, 2013.

A retired faculty member of Valparaiso University and former executive director of the Lutheran Human Relations Association of America, Karl Lutze was ALOA’s first full-time Executive Director. He established our first office in 1991, on the Valparaiso University Campus, and created ALOA’s Encore Times newsletter. Lutze was Executive Director until 1997 and went on to serve as President of ALOA’s Board of Directors. He was the first recipient of ALOA’s Celebrate and Serve Award.