O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Retirement Time


August 1, 2019

Pastor Riemer

The promise of religious choice brought waves of immigrants from Germany to the United States during 1838-39. The Saxon Lutherans sought freedom from the compromises being thrust upon their beliefs by Kaiser Wilhelm I during that time. Among the 3000-5000 migrants was Ernst August Radue, maternal Great great grandfather of Pastor Leroy Riemer. Radue and the other thousands of followers of Reverend Johannes Andreas August Grabau came to the United States and founding several Lutheran Synods including Buffalo (New York) Synod and Missouri Synod. They established Lutheran churches across New York, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as Missouri.

Pastor Riemer's family settled in Wisconsin. He is from Freistadt. He explains the name of the city he is from is Mequon, WI. Pastor Riemer describes Freistadt, where he grew up, as an unincorporated village. The Lutheran congregation there is the oldest in Wisconsin. He figures it was founded in about 1839.

Pastor Riemer has been with Bethel Lutheran Church since August 9, 1970 at an afternoon service. He has served the people of Sutherland for 49 years. While the congregants at Faith Lutheran in Orange City waited for an answer to their call, Pastor Riemer also served in that church, from 1971-1974. For many years, from 1987 to 2015 Pastor ministered to congregants at Sioux Rapids, also Faith Lutheran Church. In all of those years, traveling and fitting 2 services into each Sunday morning Pastor shares his story of his only travel issue. He left early on a Sunday morning for Sioux Rapids. (Their services were earliest.) About halfway there it began snowing. After the service about 12 inches of snow had fallen. But he had another service to deliver, so he began his trek. About 3 miles outside of Sioux Rapids his car slipped into the ditch. He called AAA, but they said everyone had been pulled off the roads, but there would put out a call if anyone was willing. One tow truck operator responded. Pastor had performed the marriage ceremony for his sister! He got to Sutherland late on that particular Communion Sunday, but he was able to consecrate the communion. Even though the Faith Lutheran at Sioux Rapids has disbanded he maintains a good relationship with many of the congregants.

Pastor officially retires following service on Sunday August 11, 2019 after 49 years of service to the church. He plans to return (near) home to Grafton, WI. and close to family.

The Lutheran faith is a strong bond for Pastor Riemer and his family. It was his faith that brought his family to the United States. He is the youngest of 6 children; four boys and two girls. All four boys took to the church. One of his sisters married a minister. His other sister worked to help her brothers with the cost of their education and made sure that their parents could attend each of their seminary graduations. She never made it to a single graduation herself.

Pastor's faith education was lifelong. He attended Concordia schools in Wisconsin through Junior College (the first 2 years) in Milwaukee. He completed his college education at Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne. IN. St. Louis, MO was home for 4 years attending Concordia Seminary. During his third year at Seminary students served an internship. That is they were paired with a parish. He was sent to Grace Lutheran Church in Paris, IL. There he served 2 congregations, Trinity Lutheran of Casey, IL and Concordia Lutheran at Marshall, IL. There were both near the east edge of Illinois, near Terra Haute, IN. He continued to serve these two parishes for 9-10 weeks into his 4th year, commuting the 90 miles while they waited for an answer to a call. He taught confirmation classes and held services. He graduated from Concordia Seminary at St. Louis in the spring of 1970. Newly ordained ministers were usually assigned. Pastor Leroy Riemer came to Bethel Lutheran Church in Sutherland, Iowa and has been a treasure to the community ever since.

Festivities to celebrate Pastor's tenure with Bethel Lutheran Church and with Sutherland includes a speaker, Dr. Steven Turner at the church at 2:30pm. Following is a short program at 4:00pm at the R.L. Johannsen Center with a free meal following. The public is welcome.


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