Erkkinen succeeds Wuerffel in Armed Forces post

Chaplain Eric Erkkinen of Fort Knox, Ky., began work Sept. 1 as associate director of the Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces.

Erkkinen, 56, succeeds Chaplain Theodore Wuerffel, who has served in the for a little more than three years.  Wuerffel, 64, retired Aug. 29 to pursue a degree in music composition as a full-time student at Webster University in St. Louis.

Music has been “a lifelong avocation,” he told Reporter, “so my departure from the Ministry to the Armed Forces [MAF] is much more of a ‘life transition’ than a retirement.

Highlights of his former position, he said, include “working with the chaplain candidates at our two seminaries, visiting chaplains and hosting our annual MAF conferences, and helping organize the Concordia Historical Institute ‘History of LCMS Chaplaincy’ exhibit.”  The exhibit is on display through year’s end at CHI, located on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Erkkinen is a 1977 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and has served as pastor of congregations in Virginia, Minn., and Hudson, Fla.  He was a chaplain in the Army National Guard from 1978 to 1981, and began his active-duty service with the Army in 1988.

In active duty, Erkkinen has served in Operation Desert Storm; at Fort Hood, Texas; in Bamberg, Germany; at Fort Belvoir, Va.; in Bosnia; at the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks; in several Middle Eastern cerkkinen-ted.gifountries, including Afghanistan; and in Heidelberg, Germany.  He served a year (2006) in Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and since then had served at Fort Knox, Ky.  He became a lieutenant colonel in 2001.

Erkkinen has written numerous devotions and a children’s book to assist families during deployments.  Among his many medals and honors, he received the bronze St. Martin of Tours medal in 1998.  He and his wife, Linda, have three adult children.

In his new position, Erkkinen will administer clerical and budget matters for Ministry to the Armed Forces — overseeing its “Ministry-by-Mail” program, which provides free devotional materials to deployed servicemen and women; supervising the LCMS seminaries’ chaplain candidate program; and maintaining chaplain rosters and records.

To contact Erkkinen, call (314) 996-1728 or send an e-mail to

Posted Sept. 4, 2008

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