Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lutheran pastor offers Teutonic, twangy treats

Wally Meyer, pastor at Christ Our Redeemer Church in Temple Terrace, infuses bluegrass music into two “Americana” services each month. He also preaches some Sundays in German.

Special to the Times

Wally Meyer, pastor at Christ Our Redeemer Church in Temple Terrace, infuses bluegrass music into two “Americana” services each month. He also preaches some Sundays in German.

TEMPLE TERRACE — He's a third generation American who's also well connected to his German roots.

Over the years Wally Meyer has visited the land of his ancestors 21 times, three of those on monthlong church ministries, and is proficient in the language.

It's a skill that serves him well at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Temple Terrace, where Meyer is pastor. There, on the second Sunday of every month at 3 p.m., Meyer conducts one service in German.

"People really appreciate singing hymns in the language they grew up with," Meyer said. "Sometimes I even include a German children's song, especially around Christmas, which speaks deeply to their faith and reminds them that God was with them then and now."

Preaching in German has not always gone over so well.

Meyer's grandfather, Arthur J. Meyer, preached in German a century ago at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in North Zulch, Texas. His congregants might have enjoyed the service, but a warning letter arrived from the Ku Klux Klan. The family has preserved the original letter.

"If you don't like the stars in Old Glory, go back to your home over the seas,'' it said. "We ask you in the name of true Americanism to preach at least ever other sermon in the English language. … Our eyes are upon you."

It was signed by Norman Gee, No. 160, Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

No such threats have befallen the younger Meyer, who has been conducting the German service at Christ our Redeemer for the past five years.

Typically about two dozen worshipers attend from many Christian denominations — some young adults, a few retirees and many who came to the United States as war brides.

Marie Kurz, 75, came from Germany as a refugee with her family in 1950. For her, the service has strong nostalgic overtones and helps her practice her native tongue.

"When I hear the hymns in German, it all connects for me," said Kurz, a retired homemaker. "It brings you back to your childhood, back to home."

Reaching out to the community and finding different ways of attracting people to church services is another of Meyer's objectives. Several years ago the church had a contemporary worship service, but then attendance dropped. In looking for other ways to appeal to new people, Meyer offered the German service, and then fell back on another one of his talents, music.

Now, on the first Sunday of each month, Meyer conducts two "Americana" services infused with bluegrass music. Taking traditional hymns and prayers and setting the words to different time-honored church melodies, Meyer created an eclectic yet traditional Lutheran service accompanied by a banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, fiddle and occasionally an oboe.

The church still offers traditional Lutheran services, Meyer said.

"We offer these other services because they're the kind that people who avoid going to most other services would come to," Meyer said. "It's all the same Holy Communion, the same liturgy, the same word of Christ, but it's presented in a way that these people relate to."

Contact reporter Sheryl Kay with any religion news at or call (813) 230-8788.

>>If you go

Alternate worship

Christ Our Redeemer Church is at 304 Druid Hills Road in Temple Terrace. For information about the German and "Americana" services, call (813) 988-4025.

Lutheran pastor offers Teutonic, twangy treats 06/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2008 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge


    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]
  2. Carlton: A moment of sanity when citizens finally said no


    If you were looking for some small sign of sanity in the world, here's one courtesy of the people of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

    The Confederate memorial statue outside the old Hillsborough courthouse is now boxed up in plywood to prevent vandalism. Private donors have ponied up money to have the statue relocated to a cemetery. [JIM DAMASKE  |  Times]
  3. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre


    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  4. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police


    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee: