‘Growing in wealth of grace’
On May 12 William Berg turned 100. The center of the festivities would not be a gala in his honor. Instead Berg, a retired pastor, wanted a worship service to be the heart of his birthday celebration.
There is one more twist though. Berg also wanted to preach at the service.
On May 23 Berg preached at Augustana Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Minneapolis. The service was held there because Berg served as Augustana’s pastor from 1965 to 1980.
“It was overwhelming, which is really an understatement,” Berg said. To celebrate Berg’s birthday hymnals and liturgy that were used during his tenure were sung again, and his family members participated in the service. “It was quite an incredible thing,” Ann Carlson, Berg’s daughter, said.
Berg began the sermon with these words, “Welcome to Pentecost. Welcome not to a birthday celebration but to the birthday of the church.”
Berg said he was blessed by all the people who attended the service, “I was greeted by hundreds of people. … During the whole time I felt it was necessary to transfer honor,” Berg offered. “I was very honored by all the people who came, and I was blessed to return that honor to God who has called me.”
Perhaps Berg’s attitude on aging has something to do with why he wanted to preach and have a worship service for the center of his celebration. “I’m not old. I am getting older and that is a great adventure. I am enjoying growing in wealth of grace and nearing my creator,” Berg said.
Berg has written seven books, most recently Words of Hope for All Times: From Life and the Book of Life, which was written when Berg was 97.