Springfield, Ohio - Heartfelt reflections, singing and a number of musical arrangements filled Weaver Chapel inside and out, April 11, as family, friends and members of the Wittenberg community remembered the life of the Rev. Michael D. Wuchter '68 and dedicated a garden in his honor.
Pastor To the university from 1979-1997, Wuchter suffered a heart attack on Aug. 5, 2000 while on a mission trip to Africa with his wife, Shirley Dyer Wuchter '68, and another couple from First Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minn. Wuchter was serving as senior pastor of First Lutheran, and the two couples were in Ohiangu, Namibia to represent First Lutheran at the dedication of a new sanctuary in the area.
The Rev. Carla Thompson Powell '91, pastor of Timothy Lutheran Church in Livonia, Mich, and Timothy Bennett '78, associate professor of languages at Wittenberg, shared their memories of Wuchter during the dedication service. Both noted how Wuchter's kindness, commitment to justice and unwavering faith influenced them and everyone he met during his lifelong ministry. The Wittenberg Choir also sang, and Tom Kennedy, associate professor of music, played a prelude for flute and accompanied soloist Sarah Bragdon '03 during the service.
As part of the service, those gathered also processed outside to the newly landscaped garden on the south side of Weaver Chapel, where a plaque greeted them bearing Wuchter's name and the following Bible verse from Micah 6:8: "Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God." Wuchter had selected this verse for his installation service at First Lutheran in 1997, and Don Busarow, professor of music, director of the Wittenberg Choir and university organist, composed an arrangement of this verse for the dedication service.
"At Wittenberg, the verse stands at this intersection of faith and learning in the chapel garden," said Rachel Tune, pastor to the university, "As members of the Wittenberg community and visitors cross the campus, from the student center to academic centers, from Recitation Hall to residential halls, this verse stands as an enduring call to live faithfully, and that in all arenas of life, we might do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God."
Included in the garden are pansies from First Lutheran Church, evergreen trees, and a variety of other plantings, which Wittenberg's groundskeeping crew arranged. Flowers were also placed around the plaque by Shirley Wuchter.
More than 1,000 people gathered Aug. 14, 2000 for Michael Wuchter's funeral service at First Lutheran, including the Rev. Larry Houff, who worked with Wuchter during his 18 years at Wittenberg. Houff, who will celebrate the 30th anniversary of his ordination on April 21, also returned for the dedication service as did a number of alumni, former co-workers and colleagues.
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