National Lutheran News

Metro Lutheran’s 2002 Gold Pen winner dies

Alvin Rueter created, hosted radio series “Sing for Joy”

The winner of the 2002 Metro Lutheran Gold Pen Award has died at age 86. Dr.
Alvin Rueter, whom the paper recognized that year for excellence as a religion
communicator, was the creator of the widely-broadcast sacred music radio
series “Sing for Joy.” For many years he was also the host of the program, which
continues on area radio stations as well as on hundreds more nationwide.

Rueter once told Metro Lutheran, “I created the [radio] series when I was a
young pastor. I was trying to launch a Lutheran mission congregation in Tulsa,
Oklahoma. In the midst of so many conservative Baptists, I discovered there was
almost no understanding of, or appreciation for, Lutheran liturgy or the every-
Sunday lectionary (the system of ordering how Scripture is assigned for use at
worship). I decided a radio program linking good Lutheran choral music to the
Scripture texts for the coming Sunday might be the right approach.”

Rueter was ordained a pastor in the former American Lutheran Church (ALC),
which became part of the present Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA). He served congregations in the Los Angeles area; Tulsa; Lincoln,
Nebraska; and the Twin Cities. The last parish he served was Bethlehem
Lutheran, in the Midway District of St. Paul.

At a time of life when most clergy are thinking of retiring and slowing down,
Rueter seemed to be stepping up the pace. He completed a doctoral program in
speech communication at the University of Minnesota at age 65, then became a
coach in public speaking for corporate leaders in the Twin Cities. He taught
preaching at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.

After Luther passed him over for a full-time homiletics (preaching) position, he
developed a program for training deacons in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of
St. Paul and Minneapolis in the art of proclamation. He also created a series for
Lutheran and other Christian clergy, “Making Good Preaching Better.” Liturgical
Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, published his book bearing the same title. He
also taught preaching at the Lutheran seminary in Hong Kong.

Rueter died in Blair, Nebraska, where he had been receiving medical care while
struggling with terminal cancer. His remains were interred in Blair, next to those
of his wife, Beulah, who predeceased him, and his daughter, Pauline, who died
in childhood.