LCA farewells ‘the face of our church in Asia’

The LCA has farewelled one of its most senior and respected officers, Pastor Wayne Zweck, who retired on 31 October. Pastor Zweck had served the church for 40 years as parish pastor and LCA secretary/mission director. This latter role had been described by some as ‘two full-time jobs, and probably more’. He was LCA vice-president from 2000 to 2001.

During their parish ministry Pastor Zweck and his wife Wendy served at Mount Isa in Queensland, Frankston in Victoria, Enfield and St Stephens in Adelaide and Southport in Queensland. Pastor Zweck was described by former members as a humble man with a servant heart and a wicked sense of humour. ‘His door was always open; he was always available to talk to’, a former member said. ‘He’s an inspiration, a role model’, said a member of the national office staff. ‘When I think of how Jesus might have acted in a situation, and how Wayne acts, they look the same to me. Wayne shows me how to live like a disciple of Jesus.’

LCA President Mike Semmler said that the people who have been able to work with Pastor Zweck have been privileged and blessed. ‘God raises up gifted people for special purposes in his church, and one of those people is Wayne Zweck, a true pastor of the church.’

In his role as LCA secretary/mission director (2001-2008), Pastor Zweck made an impact on the lives of people far beyond the LCA. As our church’s ambassador, he explored new ways of working cooperatively with churches in South-East Asia. He formed not only professional working relationships but also enduring friendships with bishops and general secretaries in partner churches. Those relationships are now bearing fruit. In recent years the interest in overseas mission has exploded. With the appointment of Glenice Hartwich in 2006, the relationships Pastor Zweck forged over many years are being expanded into practical mission projects and exchanges in which the people of our church can be personally involved.

‘What Wayne has achieved in South-East Asia can never be overstated’, Glenice said. ‘He is the face of our church in Asia. He is afforded enormous respect by the leaders of the churches there, not only as a fellow church leader but also as a dear friend. He honours them as much as they do him, and I think this is one reason why he has been able to form such deep and enduring relationships.

‘What he has achieved for our church here in Australia and New Zealand is extraordinary. His work in building these international partnerships has been the foundation for the mission passion that is now spreading across our church like a fire: this new excitement, energy and heart for the gospel.’

On behalf of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore, Bishop Philip Lok sent Pastor Zweck ‘a big Terima Kasih (thank you) for the sweat and tears (he) shed in strengthening the bond of partnership between our two churches’.

‘Your labour has not been in vain’, he said. ‘Those in our boys home and in our Orang Asli (indigenous) communities are blessed because of you…Your life and ministry has had an impact on lives within and beyond the shores of Australia.’

Dr Adrienne Jericho, Executive Director of Lutheran Education Australia (LEA), said that Pastor Zweck’s overseas mission work has benefited Lutheran schools also. ‘I recall when Wayne invited me to join him on a visit to North Sumatra to learn about the needs of the schools of our partner churches there. That visit led to exciting partnerships with these churches, and this was evident at the recent Australian Conference on Lutheran Education. The eleven participants from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea made a profound impact on the conference.’

Pastor Zweck represented the LCA also within the broader international Lutheran community. In January 2005 he led the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) pastoral assessment team after the Boxing Day tsunami. He regularly attended gatherings of the Mekong Mission Forum. He participated in the LWF’s mediation efforts in the Philippines to help heal the division in the Lutheran church there. He joined an LWF team that met with representatives of the International Lutheran Council in Geneva and Finland, and he served on the Assembly Planning Committee preparing for the LWF’s 11th Assembly to be held in Stuttgart in 2010.

LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Ishmael Noko described Pastor Zweck’s contribution to the LWF as ‘outstanding’. ‘In all that he has done with and for the LWF, Wayne’s pastoral skills and commitment to the mission of the church worldwide have been strongly evident, and always highly appreciated. I value his theological competence, especially in the area of Lutheran confessional theology, which has come through again and again in his work with us on the preparation of the next Assembly.

‘I thank the Lutheran Church of Australia for sharing this son of yours with the worldwide Lutheran family.’

Echoing Dr Noko’s words, ALWS executive secretary Peter Schirmer said that Pastor Zweck has been an ‘outstanding international ambassador’ for the LCA. I have been able to observe firsthand the qualities that have enabled him to be successful in renewing and strengthening relationships with our church’s partners: a deep empathy with people, an ability to engage, listen and respond to the needs and concerns of our neighbours, and respect for our partners, acknowledging that we have much to learn from them with all their giftedness.

‘Underpinning all of this, which was well recognised internationally and regionally, is his deep love of the gospel and an unwavering passion to both proclaim and live it.’

Reprinted with kind permission of The Lutheran. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.

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