Seasoned Servants of Christ (In Times of Need)4 min read

The morning sunlight was streaking through the delicate curtains of the small breakfast nook. Ruth was studying a passage in Psalms turning the pages of her well-worn Bible with arthritic, but still active fingers. Matthew was out for his daily morning walk, although the walks are much shorter and slower now. The years have been relatively kind to them. Their over sixty-year marriage has provided for many joys and blessings; however, having their own biological children was not one of them. Matthew and Ruth have considered themselves blessed by their participation in the number of baptisms, confirmations, and weddings of young people over their years of ministry. Of course, Ruth being a faithful Sunday School teacher always had “children” that she shepherded, but none that called her “Mom” or even “Grandma.” Yes, they have some distant relatives; but no close family is still alive and near, they have out-lived them all. Matthew and Ruth’s true family is the church, a mixture of families in differing stages of life’s journey.

Matthew is long retired from active pulpit duties, but local churches do call on him to make shut-in calls or to fill-in for an occasional Bible study. Their many years in active ministry took them to several states across the country. While Ruth voluntarily gave up driving a few years ago, Matthew still manages to get them to doctor appointments and nearby shopping. To outward appearances Matthew and Ruth are the quintessential example of a strong Christian marriage, a couple blessed by their Lord in all ways – and comfortable moving into their later years on Earth.

The sad secret they share with no one is their desperate financial circumstances. Over the years, Ruth was employed in part-time positions within the communities where they lived, but never maintained a full-time position, so that she was available to be helpful within each congregation. She led Sunday school, women’s Bible classes and, of course, played an essential role in the Ladies Aid.  The small pension they receive along with Social Security just is not enough to make ends meet. They have been extremely frugal over the years and saved prudently, but now the savings have dwindled and soon will be nonexistent.

Each year the cost of groceries increases. Meal planning and a trip to the store depend on the specials offered that week.  The soaring gas prices keep them close to home; besides, the older model car that they drive would never be able to sustain a long journey. One of the church members keeps their vehicle in working order for a nominal fee. No one knows the worries they have about their future. Hopefully the summer weather is not too warm so that they don’t need to run the air conditioner. If there is not enough rain, the lawn starts to brown because water and sewer rates are high. They worry that the neighbors might be unhappy with their not so perfect lawn. Health care and medicines are always a concern. They have been blessed by God up to this point as only have a couple required prescription medications. What about their future? They certainly aren’t getting any younger and Medicare only covers so much. What happens if one of them has a serious illness? How can they handle those types of expenses?

Would their church assist them with financial help? Would friends and neighbors “pitch-in” and give them some relief? Probably so, but Matthew and Ruth are too proud to ask. They consider their financial situation their “fault,” ignoring the many sacrifices they made in order to minister to God’s flock. They are too ashamed to ask for assistance.

The above scenario depicts a fictitious couple; however, their story is true. The LCMS has numerous retired pastors, teachers, and widowed spouses who currently are suffering economic distress, their sole income being Social Security and retirement plans. This is a sad state of affairs for those who have so diligently served congregations and schools for many faithful years. These dedicated servants have brought great numbers of people to Christ and saved their souls … now it is us who need to save their dignity and quality of life.

The Michigan District, LCMS maintains a “Sower’s Fund.”  This fund can be distributed to those in acute financial need under the watchful eye of the President’s office.  Many of us in the pews have no idea who is in need … and many of us have not even heard of the Sower’s Fund.

Help Spread the Word

Circuit Visitors … please make sure that those retired servants and spouses in your area of the state are on stable financial ground. Direct those in need to the Sower’s Fund through the District office.

As individual congregation members and as congregations as a whole we must support this fund so that those who have been so instrumental in bringing the light of Christ to many have a light to shatter the darkness of their financial struggles.

For more information, or to contribute to the Sower’s Fund, please contact Julie Strobl in the President’s Office at 888.225.2111 ext. 233 or

Subscribe to Blog Button

About the Author

Kathy Krause is a member of the Michigan District Commission for Church Worker Care (former CMGS). She retired as Great Lakes Director of Lutheran Special Education Ministries and taught special education in Utica Community Schools. She is actively working now as Mom and Grandma to two daughters, two son-in-laws, and three granddaughters.

More by This Author