On Monday, June 25, 2018, during the Michigan District Convention, Rev. Dr. Richard J. Wolfram was recognized for 36 years of ministry, 19 of those as Congregation Ministry Facilitator/Stewardship Ministries at the Michigan District.
Dr. Wolfram received his education at Faith Lutheran School in Livonia and St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Farmington and attended Lutheran High School West in Detroit. Upon graduation he received an appointment to the USAF Academy and later attended Michigan Technological University and Schoolcraft Community College. While serving four years in the U.S. Air Force and stationed at Craig AFB, Selma, Ala., he attended Alabama Lutheran College. After receiving an Honorable Discharge from the Air Force, he graduated from Concordia Teachers College, Seward, Neb., in May 1978, with a B.S. in Secondary Education and a Lutheran Teachers Diploma. He graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. with an M.Div. in 1982 and a D.Min. in 1999. He was ordained and installed on June 20, 1982 at Zion Lutheran Church, Hardwick, Minn.
Throughout Dr. Wolfram’s years of ministry, he served as a Navy Reserve Chaplain. Following his service as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Hardwick, Minn., he served as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Walla Walla, Wash.; Executive Director of The Lutheran Education Society, Inc. of South Florida; Pastoral Assistant of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Hollywood, Fla.; and Administrative Pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Saginaw, Mich.
Dr. Wolfram was commissioned as a naval officer in August 1981. He transferred to the United States Navy Retired Reserve on May 1, 2007 with the rank of Captain and active duty and reserve time totaling 31 years. He is authorized to wear the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal with two bronze stars, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with silver hourglass. In addition, he was the recipient of the Bronze St. Martin of Tours Medal.
Acknowledgements and Plans for the Future
Rev. Dr. David P.E. Maier, Michigan District President, reflects on Dr. Wolfram’s tenure with the District: “I’ve known Dr. Rick Wolfram for more than 20 years and certainly as long as he has been a CMMF in the Michigan District. I have always appreciated that his work has been done with enthusiasm, passion, joy, and a professionalism that represents the District and our Lord in an exemplary way. When it was necessary to change from supporting congregations around the District based on their average worship attendance (AWA) to supporting congregations based on where they were located geographically in one of our four District Zones, he asked for and was assigned the North Zone or top half of Michigan. His willingness to not only try something new but make the new model succeed, as well as to discover new ways for congregations to connect and support each other in Gospel ministry endeavors, was outstanding—an encouragement to all the congregations in his care in the North Zone and to everyone in the District Office. A good deal of Rick’s time and talents were also used in the important area of ‘Life Stewardship’ for ALL the congregations of the District and throughout our beloved Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. I am excited and grateful that this area of his ministry expertise will continue in our District and in the Synod.”
During Dr. Wolfram’s retirement recognition at the 102nd Michigan District Convention, the District Stewardship Committee presented him with the John E. Herrmann Stewardship Award, which read: “The John E. Herrmann Stewardship Award is presented to special Honoree Rev. Dr. Richard J. Wolfram for your tireless and consistent service to the church. You’ve been an example of living a lifestyle of a steward of God’s Kingdom, passionately promoting the message in your home congregation, around the Michigan District, and throughout the entire Missouri Synod.”
Dr. Wolfram and his wife, Judy, reside in Howell, Mich. They have three grown children: Jennifer (Aaron) Rumberger, Thaddeus (Lindsey), Joel (Amy); five granddaughters, and five grandsons. Dr. Wolfram officially retired on June 30, 2018, but he will continue serving the District on a part-time basis in steward education. In this capacity, he and the District Stewardship Committee will promote annual workshops for pastors and congregational leaders, providing training and resources in the stewardship area. “We are stewards by birth and Christian stewards by Baptism. As Martin Luther so often asked, ‘What does this mean?’ It is my personal goal to help everyone know the answer and live it,” says Dr. Wolfram.
Dr. Wolfram is also available for preaching in the steward and stewardship arenas, as well as for general pulpit supply. He will be available to help congregations overcome administrative and organizational challenges.
Photos by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS