2017-12-07 / News

Hope Lutheran Church closes its doors

Pastor who led congregation for 40 years retires
BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com


Swartz Creek Mayor David A. Krueger has served as pastor of Hope Lutheran Church on Miller Road for more than 40 years. Krueger retired Dec. 1, and the congregation that was established in 1947 was disbanded. 
Photo by Lania Rocha Swartz Creek Mayor David A. Krueger has served as pastor of Hope Lutheran Church on Miller Road for more than 40 years. Krueger retired Dec. 1, and the congregation that was established in 1947 was disbanded. Photo by Lania Rocha SWARTZ CREEK – The Rev. David A. Krueger heard God’s call at an early age.

“From the time I was a child, I wanted to lead people to eternal life,” he said.

Now, after 45 years and more than 2,500 sermons, the pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Swartz Creek says it’s time to retire.

“I think I deserve it,” said Krueger, who also serves as the mayor of the City of Swartz Creek.

The congregation gathered for the closing service Sunday, Nov. 26. Krueger’s childhood friend, The Rev. Paul Schweppe, delivered the sermon, entitled “A Life in the Gales of November.”

Within his message, Schweppe likened Krueger to a lightship that launched into the Great Lakes Storm of 1913, to provide a beacon for other vessels and crews seeking refuge.


Pastor David Krueger looks through the record book of weddings, baptisms, confirmations and funerals, which the congregation of Hope Lutheran Church has kept for 70 years. 
Photo by Lania Rocha Pastor David Krueger looks through the record book of weddings, baptisms, confirmations and funerals, which the congregation of Hope Lutheran Church has kept for 70 years. Photo by Lania Rocha “He said I have been guiding souls to safe harbor and a life of Jesus Christ for 45 years,” Krueger said.

Krueger grew up 40 miles west of Green Bay, Wisconsin, in New London, a town about the size of Swartz Creek. He attended Northwestern College in Watertown, then Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, where he earned bachelor and master of divinity degrees.

His first assignment was at the fledgling Redemption Lutheran Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he served for five years before being called to Hope in 1977.

“My first impression was that there was a lot of work to do in teaching people the Bible and reaching out to our community to find others who were in need of God’s word,” he said.

When he arrived at Hope, the congregation numbered about 120. The membership had diminished since then, and only about 40 names were left when the books were closed Dec. 1. In recent years, most Sundays saw only about a dozen worshippers in the pews.

Krueger led the church in the traditions of the Wisconsin Synod, which he describes as theologically “one of the most conservative” branches of the Lutheran Church.

“We believe the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God,” he said. “That is the basis of our practices and doctrines.”

In the 40 years and 10 months Krueger served in Swartz Creek, he officiated 31 weddings, 94 baptisms, 67 confirmations and 38 funerals.

He isn’t sure how many times he has led the congregation in singing his favorite hymn, “I’m But a Stranger Here; Heaven Is My Home.” The hymn has been his favorite since he was in second grade, when it was sung at a funeral for a classmate who was struck by a car.

“It was the first hymn I ever memorized,” he said. “I like the thought of it. We’re all just here temporarily. Life is all about preparing to go to heaven. Life is about eternal life.”

Krueger said he doesn’t have a favorite Bible passage.

“There are so many, it would be hard to narrow down,” he said.

Until this year, Krueger missed only one Sunday service because of illness. After suffering a stroke several months ago, he missed four.

He took very few vacation days, although he was allowed six weeks, preferring instead to tend to his flock.

“I enjoy the work,” Krueger said. “I feel the people need it; they need God’s word and someone to guide them to safe haven.”

Krueger and his wife, Linda, whom he met at Schweppe’s wedding, plan to stay in Swartz Creek, in the house adjacent to the church, where they raised their children, Nathanael and Emily.

Krueger also will continue to serve as mayor of Swartz Creek, and he hopes to have more time now for some of his favorite pastimes including fishing, camping, canoeing, photography, building and inventing, and cheering for the Green Bay Packers, in which he is a proud stockholder.

Return to top

Copyright 2010-2017 The Swartz Creek View, All Rights Reserved

Click here for digital edition
2017-12-07 digital edition