Make us your home page
Instagram

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 [email protected] 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

Loading...
  1. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  2. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  3. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  4. Study: Pollution kills 9 million a year, costs $4.6 trillion

    World

    NEW DELHI — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    New Delhi’s landmark India Gate, a war memorial, is engulfed in morning smog on Friday.
  5. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.