Bishop Usgaard and Pastor Ruud Sunday the 11th was a very big day at Bethel Lutheran Church in Northfield.  Nearly 900 persons swelled the Sanctuary for three services to celebrate the installation of Associate Pastor Charlie Ruud and the confirmation of nearly two dozen tenth graders.

Amidst unfurled banners waving high above the assembly, Pastor Charlie processed into the Sanctuary with Senior Pastor Tim McDermott; Bishop Harold Usgaard; Cantors Mike Ahrens and Marci Groenewold; and Acolytes Annika Schwietz, Davy Urke, Annalee Olson-Sola, and Kasey Schuster.  Bishop Usgaard offered greetings from the other 180+ congregations of the Southeast Minnesota Synod of the ELCA.  With Bishop Usgaard at the pulpit and the congregants standing, Choir Director Dan Kallman accompanied combined adult and youth choirs on bongo drums for repeated stanzas of the gospel verse, “Praise the Lord”.  Later, Dan led the adult choir in a stirring anthem, “Come Dwell in Solomon’s Walls”.

A key portion of the Bishop’s sermon was directed at Pastor Charlie.  I paraphrase: “You undoubtedly have a lengthy job description as part of your letter of call, and we will shortly address key duties as part of the installation liturgy.  But let me simplify,” the Bishop said.  “Share Jesus.  That is what you are called to do.  Share Jesus.”

Pastor Charlie, wife Becky, and baby Lucy are now at home in Northfield.  Charlie recently graduated from Luther Seminary in St Paul, and he has retired from his professional baseball career as a record setting pitcher for the St Paul Saints.  Becky has returned to St Olaf, where she was an all-American track star, to serve as an assistant track coach.

After a welcoming pot luck lunch, the third service of the day celebrated the confirmation of 23 Bethel tenth graders.

(photo courtesy of Dean Neuburger)