By Rebecca Hasey

Ketchup.  Candy.  Wisdom.  Inspiration.  Just some of the gifts I’ve received from Pastor Zehnder.

Pastor Zehnder came to St. Luke in 1976 and there he met my parents.  My mom was expecting me to make my arrival soon, and sure enough, I was the first baby born after he arrived.  He baptized me a month later.

Several years later, when I was a little girl, I followed him out of our triangular sanctuary and into his office after the service.  He must of felt like he needed to give me something, some sort of treat, but looking around his office, he could find nothing but a packet of ketchup.  So he gave it to me.

As my mom recalls, Arline just couldn’t believe he’d give a little girl in her Sunday best a packet of ketchup!  Surprise–the following week, there was a bag of candy instead and the start of something new.  On Sunday mornings, you could be sure to see Pastor Zehnder walking out of the service with a line of little children following him, eager to get their candy from the pastor!  I don’t know how many years that continued, but it went on for quite awhile.

Pastor Zehnder has been a constant in my life.  He’s always been there for the “big stuff.”  Early on in my life, he baptized me.  Years later, he shared biblical wisdom during my junior high years, and confirmed me. When Mike and I became engaged, he counseled me.  When I walked down the aisle to get married, he led us in our vows and married me (he also gave me a packet of ketchup!).  When I started a family, he was there and baptized 3 of our children.

He’s always been there for the “big stuff.”

He has inspired me time and time again.  Anyone who has heard a Pastor Zehnder sermon is sure to know what I mean.  I remember many times, becoming so disappointed when his sermon would come to an end.  I’d usually shake my head, sigh, and whisper to whoever was sitting by me, “Boy, I could listen to him all day!”  But I also know he would not want that to be so.

Hearing him preach was a “mountaintop experience,” a place I was content to sit and stay.  Like the disciples on the mountain with Jesus, they wanted to pitch tents and stay there awhile.  It was a good place to be, a place that felt “right.”  Pastor Zehnder gave that same feeling.  Things were just “right” with him around.

Things were just “right” with him around.

We can’t stay on the mountain forever, and he enabled me to come back down and leave church feeling refreshed and motivated to do something, change something, say something, be something, that I wasn’t ready to do beforehand.

In that way, he really has been there for me for the “little stuff,” too.  When I think of the influence he has had on my life, I immediately recall the “big stuff,” my life milestones, but all his teachings, preaching, and side conversations have impacted my life in small ways too.

He really has been there for me for the “little stuff,” too.

Hearing his inspirational, story-filled messages were an encouragement in my daily life.  Being a child for most of his time here at St. Luke, I know I missed out on many opportunities to hear him preach and learn from him.  But I’ll always remember him telling stories, smiling, and encouraging his church family.

I’ll probably always think of Pastor Zehnder when I see a stray packet of ketchup laying around.  It’ll make me smile and remember for a bit.  And that’s all right with me.


Celebration of the Life of Rev. Ron Zehnder information.


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