Update: Added information about memorial services that was not previously finalized at time of original publishing. Article follows:
The Rev. Dr. Hans-Fredrik Gustafson
+ 1935—2018 +
Spes mea in Deo est
With reverence and affection, our Synod remembers Hans-Fredrik Gustafson, who departed this mortal life and vale of tears and entered our eternal home on Sunday, the 19th day of August in the year of our Lord 2018, at the age of eighty-three years, one month, and four days.
The Rev. Dr. Hans-Fredrik Gustafson was born on July 5, 1935 and raised in Chicago by Swedish parents who emigrated to the United States in 1923. He attended Augustana Theological Seminary (now the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago), graduating with the degree of Master of Divinity in 1960; he was ordained by the Augustana Lutheran Synod on June 12, 1960 at the Centennial Synodical Convention in Rock Island, IL. Inspired by the Ecumenism of Vatican II, he directed the Chair of Ecumenical Studies at Edgewood College of the Sacred Heart in Madison, Wisconsin from 1969-1971. In 1994, he earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree in history from the University of Wisconsin – Madison; the subject of his Dissertation was: “The Genesis of Cardinal Cajetan’s Exegesis.” From his days as a student, throughout his ministries, and into his retirement, Dr. Gustafson remained an avid scholar in Reformation History, ecumenical studies, and liturgical and homiletic leadership.
Pastor Gustafson’s first parish was Saint John Lutheran Church of Phillips, Wisconsin, where he served as Pastor from 1976 to 1987. Pastor Hans did not forget his Swedish heritage when he made use of terms such as Hogmassa (High Mass), Prasten (Pastor), and Kyrkoherden (Church Shepherd). He first became a part of the Slovak Zion Synod when he was Called to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Blue Island, Illinois, a congregation of the Slovak Zion Synod, where he served from 1987 until 1990. He was then Called to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he served from 1990 until his retirement in 2002. He was active in Holy Trinity’s relocation to Trumbull, CT which included the construction of a new and modern edifice dedicated on Palm Sunday, 1996. His extensive dedication to the architectural design, layout, and church decor, as well as his oversight of this $2 million construction project, was well-known by many to be a source of great pride for him. Pastor Gustafson himself cited that time as the highlight of his career.
After his retirement, Pastor Gustafson was certified by the Interim Ministry Network, and licensed by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut and the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. He ministered as an interim pastor in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, including at Christ Church (Episcopal) in Easton, CT. After moving to Florida, he served congregations in the Episcopal Church in Southeast Florida, as well as in the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA at Advent, Boca Raton; Prince of Peace, Margate; and Zion, Deerfield Beach.
In his retirement, he became an avid cruiser in his ministry, serving on occasion as a chaplain for Holland America Cruise Lines, bringing his style of fervently compassionate ministry to world tourism, as well as to seafarers from around the globe. His seafaring ministry brought him beyond the Caribbean, to Europe, Southeast Asia, and beyond. Pastor Hans also gave selflessly to ministries close to his heart, traveling and working with the Speaker’s Bureau for Food for the Poor, the largest international charity in the United States, advocating on behalf of the destitute in Central America and the Caribbean.
Pastor Gustafson was the recipient of various honors: In 2010, he was named Professional of the Year in Interim Ministry by Cambridge Publishing for his commitment to religious leadership. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Trumbull, CT conferred upon him the honorific title of Pastor Emeritus. And, at the 2016 Synod Assembly, the Slovak Zion Synod – ELCA recognized his 55th Anniversary of Ordination, where he recounted his seafaring ministry of late and expressed his joy in our Synod Assembly’s like-pattern of being assembled on a cruise ship.
Though unable to join us at Assembly in 2018, Pastor Hans conveyed his deep and profound pride in the Slovak Zion Synod through a message he sent to the assembly, recounting not only his own heartfelt feelings, but also directing the assembly participants to likewise be appreciative of the relationships we have with each other and the wider church through our Synod and its leadership.
Father Hans-Fredrik, as he was reverently called, kept in touch with his bishop, Bishop Wilma S. Kucharek of the Slovak Zion Synod, whom he fondly and respectfully addressed as “Your Grace,” while enjoying that the Bishop responded to him by addressing him as “My Joy.”
On behalf of the Slovak Zion Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we remember the Reverend Father Hans-Fredrik Gustafson with thanksgiving and extend our Christian condolences to his loved ones and friends on this occasion of his leaving the Church Militant and entering the Church Triumphant.
A memorial service for the Rev. Dr. Gustafson will be held on October 6th at 10:30 a.m. at Trinity Cathedral, Miami, FL, with a committal to the Holy Trinity columbarium on October 28, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Trumbull, CT.
Let us not sorrow as those without hope, for those who died in Jesus, knowing that whoever lives and believes in Him shall never die.
Spes mea Christus
“The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God. And no torment will ever touch them. . . and they are at peace. . . . And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1; Revelation 21:4).
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