A Fifty Year Milestone at Lebanon, Oregon
On Friday, June 28, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lebanon, Oregon, celebrated its fiftieth year as a congregation and the fiftieth anniversary of the Rev. M. L. Natterer as its shepherd. In a special vesper service held in its sanctuary in conjunction with the 51st Annual Convention of the Concordia Lutheran Conference, the members of St. John’s were joined by the pastors of the Conference and by delegates and visitors to the convention as they gave thanks to God for all His blessings upon their flock over the past half century of His grace, and very particularly for the faithful and diligent service of Pastor Natterer, who accepted the Holy Spirit’s call to serve them in May of 1952.
Pastor Natterer graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary (LCMS) in Springfield, Illinois, in 1949 and had served briefly in Fessenden, North Dakota, and in Lansing, Illinois. It was in Lansing that the young pastor, who had marked the Missouri Synod as a heterodox church body, was persecuted by the officials of the synod’s Northern Illinois District because he refused to join it. Instead, in September, 1951, he and other brother pastors became founding members of the Orthodox Lutheran Conference, the parent body of our present Conference, even though they knew that they would pay a heavy price for their faithfulness to the Word of God and for their obedience to its clear injunction in Romans 16:17. On October 31, 1951, the officials invaded Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church in Lansing, falsely accused its pastor of unfaithfulness, and had him thrown out of the office into which the Holy Ghost had placed him. Temporarily without a call, Pastor Natterer, his wife, Waltraut, and their two toddling daughters were members of Peace Ev. Lutheran Church in Tinley Park, Illinois (now of Oak Forest, Illinois), where he served as secretary of the congregation.
Then in May of 1952, Pastor Natterer accepted the call of the Holy Ghost to St. John’s in Lebanon, where he has spent the past fifty years as its shepherd. By God’s grace and with His help, the pastor has preached the Word of God in its purity, faithfully nurtured his sheep in its precious doctrines. remembered them in his prayers, admonished them for their sins, comforted them with the sweet balm of the Gospel, and tenderly borne them in his heart. His people regard him lovingly as a precious gift of God.
Following the service in which all the pastors of the fellowship participated, a festive reception was held in the church’s fellowship hall with refreshments, grateful testimonials, best wishes, and some very special gifts. The entire celebration was a complete surprise to Pastor Natterer, our dear brother in Christ Jesus, and an expression of love and gratitude on the part of his dear flock. —Ed.