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Update: Added information about memorial service that was not previously finalized at time of original publishing. Article follows:

The Rev. Melissa Dawn Fulmer Kuemmerle

+ 1965–2019 +

Spes mea in Deo est

With reverence and affection, our Slovak Zion Synod remembers Pastor Melissa Dawn Fulmer Kuemmerle who departed this life in faith on Saturday evening, May 18, 2019 at the age of 53 years, 6 months, and 17 days.

Pastor Kuemmerle was born on November 1, 1965 in Vinson, Iowa. She received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1990 from South Dakota State University, where she studied Physics, Math, German and French. In 1998, she was awarded the Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Pastor Melissa completed her internship at First / Bethany Lutheran Church in International Falls, Minnesota and was ordained on July 19, 1998, accepting the Call to serve as Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Merrimac, Wisconsin where she served until 2001. Prior to ordination, she served as a librarian for three years at the South Dakota State Agricultural Heritage Museum in Brookings, South Dakota, and for three years as a children’s librarian at the Public Library in Storm Lake, Iowa. While in Brookings, she heard God’s call upon her for ministry while serving as a soloist singing the hymn: “Here I am, Lord.”

Pastor Melissa was married to the Rev. James Alan Kuemmerle, whom she married in 1996, and with whom she had two children, Silas and Dorthea. While on family leave raising their young children, she devoted herself to academic study in Greek and Hebrew, children’s ministries, and various pastoral ministries in the locale where Pastor James served a congregation in New Mexico. She became part of our Slovak Zion Synod family in 2009, when she and Pastor James accepted the Call to serve as Pastors of Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church in Chicago, Illinois.

In 2018, she celebrated her 20th anniversary of ordination. Pastor Melissa was active in ministry text study groups, where she enjoyed providing translations of the lectionary readings from the Greek and Hebrew Biblical texts which she loved. In conjunction with the Sauk Prairie Ministerial Association, she helped develop some new HIPPA compliant pastoral care policies and procedures for the Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital.

In our Synod, she served as a vacancy pastor in our congregation of St. Peter and St. Paul in Blue Island, Illinois. She also faithfully attended conferences and assemblies of the synod, including serving as a Synod Assembly workshop leader, integrating her love of God and love for literature while guiding Assembly participants in discovering theological understandings in their daily life and popular secular books.

Pastor Melissa was an avid reader in a variety of areas, including theology, science, and history. Her ministry reflected her gifts as a theologian, teacher, preacher, innovator, and nurturer. She readily shared titles of books and her learnings from them to guide the edification of others. But as avid as she was in gleaning wisdom from the words in her books and their authors, she was most avid in connecting with the words of wisdom which spoke to her from the Word of God.

Her academic and spiritual interests and gifts were extended to those for whom she was called as pastor, facilitator, and leader. She valued wholeness and healing, care for others, and leadership development. She took God’s call seriously, whether she was among the people in the congregations and communities in which she served, or helping her children develop life-long habits of faith centered in Jesus Christ; thus she was faithful to several divine callings at the same time: as a Minister of Word and Sacrament, and as a loving spouse and mother to her children, whom she raised that they might grow into faithful Christian adults. She excelled in integrating her theological understandings into her daily life and ministry with people, following through and never giving up, so that all might know the love of Christ and God may be glorified.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at 2:00 PM. The service will be held at Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church (5106 N. La Crosse Ave) in Chicago, Illinois.

We give thanks to God for this faithful child of God who served as a witness of the joy of salvation even in the face of life’s challenges and burdens; and we thank God for giving her to us to know and to love for a time that feels much too short. May our Lord comfort the Kuemmerle family and all who mourn with the resurrection promise which comes from Jesus Christ, who has destroyed the power of death. May we not sorrow as those without hope, for those who died in Jesus, knowing that whoever lives and believes in Him shall never die.

“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).

“The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his! How can I keep from singing?
No storm can shake my in-most calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?”
(ELW 763, vs. 4)

Spes mea Christus