Retired Nativity Lutheran pastor dies in Minnesota

Rev. Kristin Wee, who served as pastor of Nativity Lutheran Church in Weeki Wachee for 8 years.
Rev. Kristin Wee, who served as pastor of Nativity Lutheran Church in Weeki Wachee for 8 years.
Published January 9 2018
Updated January 9 2018

WEEKI WACHEE — The Rev. Kristin Wee, who served as pastor of Nativity Lutheran Church for 8 years and who was instrumental in the creation of People Helping People, an inter-faith outreach program for those in need, died in Stillwater, Minnesota, on Nov. 30. She was 75.

Wee’s parishioners and the community will remember her with a special service Saturday at the church.

"The memorial service will be an opportunity for the Nativity congregation to give thanks for the pastor they dearly loved. She served them as pastor from 2005 to 2013," said Pastor Philip Schroeder, who ministered with Wee as her part-time assistant. "And it will be an opportunity for people in the community to remember with thanksgiving a pastor who carried a vital concern for people in need and in trouble."

Wee retired in 2013 and lived in Glen Lakes until last summer when she moved to Minnesota to be near her family. Wee’s husband, Daniel, also a Lutheran pastor, died in 2011. The couple are survived by four children and eight grandchildren.

In the memorial service, Schroeder will officiate with the assistance of Pastor Giuseppe Mattei, Nativity’s current pastor, and the Rev. Lance Wallace, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Spring Hill, where Wee was a member after her retirement.

The pastor’s daughter, Astri Wee, and Angie LeMar will sing solos. Nativity’s chancel choir will sing, and its bell choir will play. Patti Cotter will offer a remembrance on behalf of the congregation, and JoAnne Boggus will speak on behalf of People Helping People. The service will include lessons and hymns and readings chosen by Pastor Wee.

Schroeder is looking forward to this opportunity to eulogize his friend for the congregation and community.

"That period was one of the highlights of my 56-year career as a pastor," he said.

Wee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from St. Olaf College in Minnesota in 1964 and earned a master’s degree in music from the Manhattan School of Music in 1966. Though she’d long had a desire to be in ministry, she was married and the mother of four young children before she entered seminary at age 36—one of only a handful of women enrolled in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America seminaries in the late 1970’s. Wanting to continue to devote time to her role as a wife and mother, she went to school part time, graduating and becoming ordained nine years later, in 1987.

The new minister accepted her first four-year pastorate in Waterloo, Iowa, served in an administrative staff capacity at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, for four years and then served eight years as a pastor in Austin, Minnesota, before coming to Florida with her husband, who had retired, to pastor Nativity.

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times in 2012 for the 25th anniversary of her ordination, Wee said she was pleased with the accomplishments of the congregation at Nativity, including starting People Helping People in 2009.

"It’s just snowballed," Wee said, noting that many other churches joined the ministry. "A very significant number of people at Nativity want to make a difference in our community."

Other church ministries Wee led included mission trips to Haiti, helping Habitat for Humanity, aiding with shelter for youth and battered women, refurbishing bicycles for the homeless and feeding people through the church’s food pantry.

"I’ve become convinced that God saves the best for last," Wee told the Times. "Coming to this parish was just a tremendous gift to me, because it’s healthy and alive, forward looking, interested in outreach and interested in trying new things."