As a church leader, the late Rev Dr David Stolz was ‘a pastor’s pastor’ and ‘thrived on mentoring individual pastors’, according to those who served alongside him in national and district church leadership roles.
Dr Stolz, who was Vice-President of the LCA from 2001 to 2006 – including two years beyond his official ‘retirement’ – and the church’s Victorian District President from 1988 to 2004, died on 24 August, aged 79.
Dr Mike Semmler, President of the LCA from 2000 to 2013, said Dr Stolz had many qualities which made him a fine leader.
‘As a successful young athlete, with a college oval named in his honour (at Redeemer Lutheran College Rochedale in Queensland), David’s ambition, strong preparation and focus were characteristics he brought to his calling as a pastor in the LCA’, Dr Semmler said.
‘An influential policy maker and a longtime leader in the church, his hand can be seen in a broad range of policies including those which focus on the welfare of pastors and the role of Lutheran education in the church.
‘Whether you found yourself sharing his point of view or not on a particular issue in the church, he always commanded respect.
‘The Victorian District has benefited from his pastoral leadership, as has the wider church which he served in many capacities, including the vice-presidency, with his special interest in the equipping of the pastorate.
‘He was a pastor’s pastor; a churchman and elder statesman, who thrived on mentoring individual pastors. He cared.
‘We are the richer for Rev Dr David Stolz willingly sharing his God-given gifts in service to all of us in the LCA. We do wholeheartedly give thanks to our gracious Lord for this faithful man of the gospel.’
LCA Bishop John Henderson, a former Victorian District Vice-President who delivered part of the eulogy during Dr Stolz’s funeral service at Nundah in Queensland, said he had learnt ‘a great deal’ from Dr Stolz.
‘During his time as leader in the Victorian District, David was many things to me personally’, Bishop Henderson said. ‘My leader, a teacher, a tutor and, during my time as his District Vice-President, he taught me a great deal about the internal workings of the church apparatus, with its flaws and its potentialities. I owe him a debt of gratitude.
‘He was also the first President in my ministry who make a point of visiting me in parish, encouraging me, and conducting a formal review of my ministry. In many respects he was ahead of his time.’
David Stolz was born on 15 August 1939 at Mundubbera Queensland, where his pastor father Joe was serving in his first parish.
While his father served at Toowoomba, David was a boarding student at St Peters Lutheran College at Indooroopilly. At St Peters his love of and talent for sport shone through, as he captained the first cricket team, played in the first football team, competed in swimming and tennis, and starred in athletics.
David was ordained into the ministry of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (UELCA) on 20 January 1963 at Toowoomba and served for more than 40 years in ministry, first in the UELCA and then, from 1966, in the Lutheran Church of Australia.
He married fellow former St Peters student Junette (June) Drew on 9 May 1964 and they had three children, Paula, David and Mark.
Pastor Stolz’s first assignment was the Wynnum Home Mission Field, followed by the Redlands Parish, Crows Nest, Haden and then Eight Mile Plains/Mount Gravatt, all in Queensland, between 1963 and 1982.
Pastor Stolz also took on leadership roles with the Lutheran Youth of Queensland, the Lutheran Youth of Australia and the National Youth Board, the Mission Board of Queensland and the Congregational Life Committee in his first decade of ministry.
He spent four years serving on the Concordia College Council Toowoomba, through to 1971 and was Secretary of the Lutheran Church in Queensland for 10 years.
During his time as pastor at Mount Gravatt, Pastor Stolz studied at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, in Columbus, Ohio and received his Doctor of Divinity degree in 1984. His doctoral thesis was entitled ‘The Care of Pastors within the call process of the Lutheran Church of Australia’.
Dr Stolz next served at Box Hill in suburban Melbourne from late 1982 to March 1988.
In March 1988, he was called to serve as District President of Victoria/Tasmania, a role he held until December 2004 – a tenure of almost 17 years.
Dr Stolz served the church in many national roles. He was on the council of the then Luther Seminary for 13 years through to 2001 and chaired the council for a number of years. He also served on the Board for Lay Church Workers, the Loans Allocation Committee, the College of Presidents, the General Pastors Conference Program Committee, and as a district president was involved in the General Church Council, as a representative on the Commission on Theology and Inter Church Relations.
His ecumenical involvement included being a member of the Tri-partite Dialogue between Anglican, Lutherans and the Uniting Church, co-chair of the Lutheran/Uniting Church dialogue, and the Lutheran/Catholic Dialogue. He served as chair of the Victorian Heads of Churches, President of the Victorian Council of Christians and Jews, and on the Australian Defence Force Chaplaincy Board.
Dr Stolz’s leadership was instrumental in planning the establishment of Redeemer Lutheran College, Rochedale in Queensland, and the DG Stolz Sportsfields at the college are named in his honour. In 2006 David was awarded the Lutheran Education of Australia service award.
While he officially retired from the ministry in 2004, he remained on as LCA Vice-President to the end of his term in 2006 and continued working at St Peters Lutheran College for the five years following retirement, then ministering at Zion Aged Care, Nundah in a part-time capacity from 2006 to 2010, and also serving at St Paul’s Nundah, as locum tenens pastor for six months.
June Stolz died in 2017. Dr Stolz is survived by his children Paula, David and Mark and their families.