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PS Portions

Class Notes – August 2014

The Rev. George J. Mathews, Jr. (MDiv 1971), Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania
Kathy is retired from her career with Lutheran Brotherhood/Thrivent (fraternal). She is actively involved in many of the ministries of Trinity.

Our older son, Christopher, lives in Clarks Summit with his wife, Kerry and their two sons, George and Phillip. Chris, a member of the PGA, manages the Wilkes-Barre Municipal Golf Course.

Our younger son, Timothy, lives in Canton Georgia with his wife, Renee, and their two daughters, Madison and Elliana. Tim is a Professor of Economics at Kennesaw State University

The Rev. Edward Schreiber (MDiv 1973), Atonement Lutheran Church, Saugerties, New York
I’m about a year away from retirement- I should live so long! Had and maybe still have a bit of prostate cancer, but my PSA level has been going down following radioactive seeds implanted several years ago. My wife Mary and I plan to retire to Maine by sometime next summer. I’ve served churches in Metro NY Synod for my entire ministry.

That’s about it from here, here being our summer cottage on Fiddle Lake in northeastern PA, where I’m on vacation, and where we’ll be a few months each year in retirement My wife Mary has been a math teacher in high school and junior high school for about 40 years. Hope and pray all’s well with my classmates, who are also likely getting ready to retire if they haven’t already.

The Rev. Natalie Mitchem (MDiv 2005), Pastor and Connectional Health Commission Director in the AME Church Worldwide
Praise the Lord! I have been blessed by God to be appointed the Connectional Health Commission Executive Director of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Worldwide and the First Episcopal District Health Commission Director. In addition, I speak as a Health/Nutrition/Fitness expert on Trinity Broadcasting Network in Philadelphia, in Heart & Soul Magazine, Health Monitor Magazine, and on the radio. This ministry allows me to share the goods news of health, wellness, nutrition and fitness. This is an essential ministry because 70% of all diseases is preventable. Our health and the health of the congregation is important to God and our ministry.

I am Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Fitness Instructor and First AID/CPR Instructor. It is a blessing and joy to see congregations and clergy learn how to fight disease (Diabetes Type 2 for example), prevent disease, and find their healthy body weight by putting their “Faith in Action”! I invite my colleagues to sponsor annual July Faith Based Health, Wellness, Nutrition and Fitness Month events, annual August Clergy and Family Self Care & Wellness Month events and annual September Disaster Preparedness Month events in your local congregations.

Visit the Connectional Health Commission AME Church website at for health resources. “Fighting disease and obesity starts with faith, your fork, knife, spoon and sneakers.” God Bless you, Rev. Natalie Mitchem, MDiv, RDN

Maria Fumai Dietrich (MAPL 2011), Associate Director, Platt Student Performing Arts House at The University of Pennsylvania
The Rev. George Dietrich, MDiv ’11 and Maria Fumai Dietrich, MAPL ’11 welcomed baby Ella Louise Mai into the world on July 31st, 2014.

The Rev. Joe Irvin (MDiv 1980), Senior Pastor, St. Peter, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
I am six years into my fourth call. After thirty years of city living, in Philadelphia and Phoenix, I am in a rural area in Wisconsin and find the change refreshing. I married for the 2nd time in 2004 to Suzy Tegge, a native of Washington, D.C. I lost my son Patrick to a car accident in 2008.My plan is to keep working for another five years, and then retire in the Madison area.

The Rev. Peter Schumacher (BD 1964)
An update for friends and colleagues: I was in the graduating class of 1964, or was supposed to be, until I took a year off to teach at the Schneller School in Lebanon. There, I had the company of two other Mt Airy students, Henry Johnson, and Alton Roberts, who sadly is now deceased.

The time In Lebanon was life-changing for me in that it gave me my first truly international world-view, and especially, in the cauldron of the Middle East, a sense of conflicting and often lethal ideologies. It was in Lebanon also that, when we were at a nearby village celebrating Lebanese Independence Day on November 22, 1963, that we learned of the assassination of President Kennedy.

I returned to Mt Airy the following year, recently married, and finished graduating in 1965, one year behind the classmates with whom I entered Mt Airy, too many of whom have since died.

I applied to be a missionary with the Board of World Missions, giving the Middle East as the area I would like to be sent. After a year’s study in Chicago at Maywood, the Board, in its inscrutable wisdom, sent us, myself, my wife Barbara, and our newly born daughter Heidi, to Japan. We arrived in Tokyo a couple of years after the Beatles, who quickened Japanese youth and their own anti establishment feelings. Our second daughter, Wendy, was born in Tokyo, at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, the onset of Barbara’s labor pains coming while we were watching the Bolshoi Opera’s performance of Swan Lake.

In high school I had dreaded German language class. I had neither the gift nor the interest. And growing up in Queens, we boys were always harassing the Chinese laundry man, imitating his–to our ears–babble of words. And now I was expected to learn to read, write and speak Japanese, of all languages! No one was more surprised than myself when I began to actually enjoy the study. Thanks to the excellent and highly motivating program at the Franciscan language school in Roppongi.Tokyo. And the fraternal feeling among this Lutheran and the Maryknoll priests at the school.

Having finished two years of study, we were sent to the southern tip of Kyushu, to Kagoshima. I was assistant pastor for three years and we had a workshop facility for handicapped people, where they could sell their own handicrafts. Pastor Sato, who later became the president of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church, was a very dedicated pastor, wanting to find a way of reaching out to the community, as well as a masterful preacher.

After Kagoshima, we moved to Kyoto where I became an auditor at Kyoto University, majoring in Japanese classical literature. I was also assigned to Shugakuin Lutheran Church. Heidi and Wendy went to Japanese schools those years, until they transferred to Kyoto International School.

I began to drift away from the church, and from my marriage. I demoted the ministry, Barbara took the girls back to America, and I had to reassemble a life. Such a short sentence doesn’t begin to capture the misery inflicted on the family. A friend helped me find work teaching at Kyoto Sangyo University, first as a lecturer, then two years later as assistant professor and some years further on as full professor, in the English Department of the Foreign Language Faculty. I was there for 31 years until 6 years ago, when, upon reaching the age of 70, I retired as Professor Emeritus, one of only three foreigners to have that honor conferred on him.

During those years I met Mikiko and we have just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. We have no children. Heidi is now 48 and lives and works in New Orleans and has two daughters. Wendy is 46 and lives in Melbourne, Florida, near her mother, and has two sons and two daughters. Mikiko teaches at a university here in Kyoto. I have my garden, my study of Japanese literature, frequent trips abroad, friends, and enough to keep me well occupied.. Our house overlooks rice fields, bamboo groves and the eastern mountains of Kyoto.

I would dearly love to hear from my former classmates, those of 1964 and 1965. I have very many happy memories of Mt. Airy. You may reach Pr. Schumacher at

In Memorium:

robert-thurau-obituaryThe Rev. Dr. Robert Henry Thurau, ’43, died at the age of 96 at his home in Franklin, Pennsylvania, on August 18, 2014. Born in Oil City, Pennsylvania, in 1917, he graduated from Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, in 1939. Prior to entering seminary, he spent one year in the sales promotion department of The Pennzoil Co. He graduated from seminary in 1943 and, at the same time, received an MA degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania. In his first parish, he pursued graduate work and received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. His doctoral dissertation, A Study of the Lutheran Sunday School in America to 1865, is in a number of libraries including Mt. Airy’s.

As an elected delegate to the national assembly of the Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor body to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in Seattle, Dr. Thurau introduced, supported with a bulging briefcase, a motion that “the Board of Social Missions be instructed to make a careful study of the possibility of pastors becoming enrolled in Social Security.” The motion passed, the study was made, and the church took steps to make it possible. Later, a retired pastor wrote him: “You have saved men and families from literal beggary.”

He served on the board of trustees of his alma mater in Philadelphia as well as at Gettysburg seminary. A prolific writer, he contributed articles to The Lutheran and Lutheran Partners, and wrote many letters to the editor, with some appearing in the two magazines and many in newspapers. For an extended period of time, The Lutheran carried many of his inside cover stories. He was also a frequent contributor to Word in Season and Christ in Our Home devotional booklets.

Dr. Thurau served St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Jeannette, Pennsylvania, from 1943 to 1948, and then spent the remainder of his active ministry at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Kittanning, Pennsylvania, where he was elected pastor emeritus on his retirement on October 1, 1979. He and his wife, Nita May Murrin Thurau, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2007. Since retirement they lived in Franklin, PA, their home town. They are the parents of two sons and two daughters, eight grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Mrs. Thurau died on March 1, 2008.
(from Dr. Thurau’s family) See more online.

Looucksphoto_012646_2642651_1_photo1_cropped_20140828.jpgxThe Rev. Robert Henry Loucks, ’55, Retired Lutheran Pastor, 83, faithful servant of the Lord and dedicated husband and father, died peacefully at home after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease on August 25th.

Following his ordination in 1955, Pastor Loucks served as the mission developer of St. Stephen’s, South Plainfield, NJ. From 1962-65, he served as pastor of Trinity, Topton. In 1965, he became the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Hillsborough, NJ. From 1970 until his retirement in 1989, he served as pastor of Nativity, East Brunswick, NJ. In retirement, Pastor Loucks served as interim pastor of Holy Trinity, Bethlehem, St. James, Coopersburg, and Christ, Easton. He also served on the synod’s World Hunger Appeal Task Force.
The memorial service for The Rev. Robert H. Loucks will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 6 at Zion Lutheran Church, County Road 517, Oldwick, NJ.
(from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA) See more online.

Marvin HardingPastor Marvin L. Harding.’53, died on Friday, July 18, 2014. Following his ordination in 1953, Pastor Harding served as pastor of Jordan, Orefield. In 1960 he became pastor of Schwarzwald, Jacksonwald, where he served until his retirement in 1991. In retirement he served as interim pastor of Trinity, Gouglersville, pastoral assistant at Grace, Shillington, and Dean to the Retired. A memorial service was held  Saturday, August 23, at Schwarzwald Lutheran Church, 250 Church Lane Road, Reading PA 19606. Condolences may be sent to Pastor Harding’s wife, Dorace, at 1200 Cambridge Ave., Apt. #110, Wyomissing PA 19610-2723.

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