Words are inadequate to describe the life of Pastor Herman Otten of Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven. This Sunday he will conduct his final service as the full-time, called pastor of Trinity Lutheran. He is stepping back from being a full-time pastor after 55 years of remarkable service to his church and congregation. He is 80 years old.
He informed his congregation a year ago that he would be stepping down from full-time service in 2013. Trinity is seeking his replacement.
Pastor Otten is an unusual man. Disciplined. Courageous. Fighter. Journalist. Athlete. Counselor par excellence. Tireless. Traditionalist. Scholar. Educator. Author. Deeply religious. Debater. Defender of the Bible. Talented. Founder of Camp Trinity. We could go on and on. Above all, he has been a dedicated shepherd of his congregation. His religion always came first.
Pastor Otten delivered God’s words to people of all faiths, especially when he visited nursing homes and hospitals. He made religious home visits. What he could accomplish in one day was remarkable. He would read a book overnight. He was fearless in speaking out and even in debating on a national level when it came to challenges to his fundamental religious beliefs. He never ever backed down from his religious convictions.
He had talent as a baseball player, and in other sports, but his accomplishments as a runner and “iron man” competitor stood out. The Missourian has printed his weekly newspaper since the 1960s. He founded the Lutheran News, serving as publisher and editor. Later the name was changed to the Christian News. It has wide circulation. Through his newspaper and speaking engagements, he upheld the fundamental tenets of his faith. Needless to say, he was controversial at times in his spiritual crusades.
For years he would jog the 17 miles from his home at Camp Trinity, south of New Haven, to put his paper “to bed” every Thursday at The Missourian. He jogged in all kinds of weather.
This man of deep religious convictions set an example for all of us. To the editor of The Missourian, he is the most disciplined person we have ever known.