The Rev. Dr. Edwin Samuel Suelflow, who served as president of The Lutheran Church Missouri—Synod (LCMS) South Wisconsin District (SWD) from 1988 to 1994, died Dec. 31, 2018, in Oconomowoc, Wis. He was 94.
Suelflow was born to Richard and Martha (Wendt) Suelflow on July 2, 1924, in Freistadt, Wis., and baptized into Christ on July 6, 1924, at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Freistadt. He attended Trinity’s grade school and was confirmed in 1937.
Suelflow attended Concordia College, Milwaukee (now Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis.), for high school and college. He received a Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1948.
While on vicarage at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wauneta, Neb., he met his future wife, Erma Haarberg. They were married on June 11, 1948.
Suelflow’s first call was to the dual parish of Hope Lutheran in Coloma, S.D., and Grace Lutheran in Burton, Neb., where he was ordained on Sept. 19, 1948.
In the spring of 1949, Suelflow was called to Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Adell, Wis., where he served from 1949 to 1956. In November 1956, he accepted the call to Grace Lutheran Church, Franklin, Neb. In August 1959, he accepted the call to Walther Memorial Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, where he served for almost 30 years.
In June 1988, Suelflow was elected president of the South Wisconsin District, a position he held until 1994. In recognition of his work in the inner city, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., on May 19, 1989. In 1994, Suelflow was named Alumnus of the Year by Concordia, Wisconsin.
After his retirement, Suelflow continued to serve in various capacities. He was chairman of the Board of Regents of Concordia, Wisconsin, from 1990 to 2000. He did German-to-English translation on several projects for LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison.
As part of his translation work, Suelflow translated six of Friedrich Pfotenhauer’s German speeches for the book At Home in the House of My Fathers (Concordia Publishing House, 2009). He also translated the proceedings of the 1880 pastoral conferences on the doctrine of election, published as the second and fourth chapters of Walther’s Predestination (Concordia Publishing House, 2018).
In celebration of the 70th anniversary of his ordination, Suelflow was honored at the SWD convention in 2018. Under the theme Sterben ist kein Kinderspiel, or “Dying Is No Child’s Play,” he spoke about the power of the Word of God, the honor of being a pastor and the importance of pastoral care to the elderly, sick and dying (see video below).
The Rev. Peter Bender, pastor at Peace Lutheran Church, Sussex, Wis., where Suelflow was a member, said of Suelflow, “Throughout his lifetime, he faithfully confessed Christ and spoke God’s Word with clarity to all those around him: his family, his neighbors, the people of his congregation and his brother-pastors. Soli Deo Gloria!”
Suelflow was preceded in death by two sisters, Anita Suelflow and Lois Suelflow; a daughter, Denise Suelflow; and a grandson, David Schmid. He is survived by his wife, Erma; a daughter, Elyse Price, of Sherwood, Ark.; a son, Steven (Josie) Suelflow of Brodhead, Wis.; a sister, Grace (John) Lover of Sheboygan, Wis.; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 5, at Peace Lutheran Church, W240 N6145 Maple Ave., Sussex, Wis., with visitation beginning at the church at 8:30 a.m. Burial at Emmanuel Lutheran Cemetery, Adell, Wis., will immediately follow the service.
Memorials may be made to the Rev. Dr. Edwin and Mrs. Erma Suelflow Minority Church Workers Scholarship Fund at Concordia University Wisconsin, 12800 N. Lakeshore Dr., Mequon, WI 53097, or to Peace Lutheran Academy, W240 N6145 Maple Avenue, P.O. Box 123, Sussex, WI 53089.
Video: The Rev. Dr. Edwin S. Suelflow speaks to the LCMS South Wisconsin District convention on Aug. 7, 2018, after the convention recognized the 70th anniversary of his ordination.
Posted Jan. 4, 2019