TORRINGTON, CT (SZS) — The Rev. Hans-Fredrik Gustafson, longtime “church shepherd” of our synod and faithful servant of Christ, was posthumously recognized by the Synod for his life of ministry to God’s people. Pastor Gustafson began his ministry in the Slovak Zion Synod in 1987 and his ministry continued to his last breath when he passed in August of 2018. His ministry spanned many decades and touched the lives of countless people of all walks of life throughout the world.
On September 15, following worship at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Trumbull, CT, Bishop Kucharek addressed the congregation with remembrances of Pastor Gustafson’s myriad ministries. Pastor Kathleen Mills received the award on behalf of the congregation which received the award on behalf of Pastor Gustafson. Holy Trinity in Trumbull (originally in Bridgeport) was the congregation from which he retired and where many fond memories of his ministry were recalled; Holy Trinity is also the site where his remains have been interred.
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.
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 honorary 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.
The award that was given is chamfered crystal held upright by cabernet-stained mahogany, and is adorned by the Synod Emblem. The award reads: “In recognition of and gratitude for exemplary service to the mission of Christ and His church” and bears Pastor Gustafson’s name.