After 74 years of continuous service as a Lutheran pastor, Rev Dr Erich Renner has ‘retired’.
Dr Renner turned 96 on 2 May and the following Sunday preached his last sermon for the fortnightly German service at Immanuel Lutheran Church, North Adelaide. Since his official retirement from the ministry in 1991, Dr Renner also had been preaching for the Adelaide German congregation, which worships monthly at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
His pastoral care role also has continued, including visiting and conducting funerals, particularly in support of Adelaide’s German-speaking Lutherans.
The text for his last sermon was Psalm 1. In 2012, around the time of his 90th birthday, he told The Lutheran that the text for the first sermon he ever gave was John 3:16. He was eleven years old at the time, and the ‘congregation’ was his younger brothers and sisters!
Immanuel North Adelaide pastor Rev Dr Mark Worthing, who also leads German worship as well as English services, said Dr Renner was ‘much loved and much appreciated’ among the people he had served.
‘His entire adult life has been dedicated to the service of the church’, Dr Worthing said. ‘His active service will be missed but we look forward to his continued involvement in the life of the congregation.’
Dr Renner’s service in the church formally began with his ordination into the ministry of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia in 1944.
He served for four years as a parish pastor in South Australia before taking on a teaching role at Immanuel College in 1949. He obtained his doctorate at Heidelberg University, Germany, and returned to Immanuel Seminary in 1959, where he lectured in Old and New Testament.
After the formation of the LCA, Dr Renner lectured at Luther Seminary in Old Testament until 1991 and used his experience in dialogue to serve on inter-denominational and inter-faith panels. He also wrote four biblical commentaries for the Chi Rho series.