Pastor Rick Lund

158

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church

“My wife Katherine and I are originally from Tacoma, Washington,” said Pastor Rick Lund, who became the new Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church at 3751 Estero Boulevard last December 1. “Other than our two sons, Trygre, who is 28 and newly married in Texas, and Peter, who is 26 and in Madison, Wisconsin, all our family remain in the Tacoma area. Even Katherine is not here with me now, as she will retire in June, so she is still working in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.”

Pastor Rick graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma in 1977, then again from the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California in 1990. “In those 13 years, I lived a vastly different life,” chuckled the good-natured 30-year Pastor! “I was a commercial banker who specialized in small business loans for many good-sized companies and businesses.”

His big business break occurred even before graduating, however! “When at Pacific Lutheran, I took a religion class taught by a theologian named Jeff Smith, who people would soon know as ‘The Frugal Gourmet!’ Jeff was a Tacoma native who received his Theological Degree from the United Methodist Church. In addition to teaching, he opened in the early 1970s his own deli and kitchen supply store called the ‘Chaplain’s Pantry.’ Even though I was young with no experience, Jeff liked me and asked me to manage his business while he concentrated on his new local television show that became ‘The Frugal Gourmet.’”

In that religion class, Smith asked the young Lund to be his ‘Reader’ for his Freshman Class, “that is like a Teaching Assistant. Jeff, who passed away in 2004, was the coolest guy, and eventually said to me that ‘you should think about working toward becoming a Pastor.’ Up to then, the thought never crossed my mind, and there was no one in my entire family in the ministry, but it was that college religion class and Jeff who planted the seed, but I still came right out of college and into banking.”

“Why Don’t You Do It!”

Not only did Rich go into banking but so did Katherine. “Even though married, we did not yet have the boys. We lived in a big house, making big money, and were really happy. One day, sitting outside, I said to her, ‘don’t laugh, but I would like to go into the ministry.’ If Katherine would have said right then that she did not like the idea, I would have dropped it, but instead she responded, ‘why don’t you do it!’ I spent the next 3 to 4 years in Theology school in Berkeley while she remained in Tacoma as a bank manager, with she and I traveling back-&-forth every few weekends, very reminiscent to what we do again now. I never looked back once we made that decision, as from then on, it has been straight ahead full bore.”

Pastor Rick’s first ministerial call was in Bremerton, Washington, “but that was a transient community with several murders, gang members, and drug issues. By then, we had the two boys, and that was not the best place to raise kids, so I asked for a more stable place. They suggested Rice Lake, Wisconsin. I never heard of it, but when I visited, it struck me as a cold version of ‘Mayberry’ and seemed like Heaven! We just fell in love with that little town and stayed for eight years. Our family would scratch their heads and ask, ‘why there?’ but when they came to visit, they understood!”

A short stay in Duluth, Minnesota, followed, before returning to Wisconsin, in Madison, “That was another really great move,” Pastor Rick recalled. “The boys ended up in a great high school that between professors and students had over 80 language groups, ethnic diversity and outstanding academics that earned them full scholarships to Auburn University. Following Madison, I planned on my last call before retirement to be in Eau Claire that was only about 40 miles south of Rice Lake, bringing my ministerial career full circle. After that, however, I served briefly in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, with a great congregation at a church founded in 1862. I felt sure then that I was done, but again agreed to serve for a short time with another church in New Orleans.”

A Great Life!

Then in full retirement, Pastor Jeff participated in “RAGBRAI” – “Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa!” “I trained all winter and was probably in the fittest shape of my life and vowed I would do it again every year for the rest of my life until I could not do it anymore, and this year convinced a good friend to do it with me. Then I received another call to take over the ministry of another church, and I said I would only consider it if I could go someplace that was warm in the winter so I could bike and train, and she said, ‘Wait a minute – I have the perfect place: St. Peter’s on Fort Myers Beach, because if I had to move anywhere, it would be to Fort Myers Beach!”

Pastor Rick looked up St. Peter’s and loved the description of the church and congregation, but there was one problem: “They wanted a fulltime Pastor and I only wanted to serve one year. The congregation is hopeful I will sign on for at least three years, but my original commitment is just for this year. When Katherine retires in June, we will reevaluate everything, and if grandchildren start to come soon, we must think about that as well, so we shall see.”

Before arriving on the island, “I knew zero about Fort Myers Beach, but feel very comfortable here, as so many people are originally from not only Wisconsin and Minnesota, but Ohio and Illinois and Indiana, so I feel like I know them right off, and understand them. You quickly learn as well how many friends around the country you really have, as suddenly everyone wants to come visit you! Every week I do my Phil Donahue and ask everyone where they are from and 75% are from somewhere else and I relate to that – this is a very good place to be! I like the feel of Fort Myers Beach, as it is a real community and not just some pretentious high-stress tourist trap. I like that people come to church in shorts and sandals, though I have yet to bring myself to wear short pants to church yet! On top of that, I am incredibly impressed with the vast depth and backgrounds of our congregation, from the artists to musicians to the businessmen and more, as all these diverse people say it seems like there were meant to live here.”

In reflecting on his ministerial journey to date, “I want to emphasize,” concluded Pastor Rick, “that each one of us who are Pastors become ones in different ways – it is not only from a lightning bolt out of the blue, but often through progressive affirmations, like mine through Jeff Smith and a religion class. For me, the ministry is a great life!”