2018 Sabre Goes to Rev. John Hill
Rev. John Hill, President of the Wyoming District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, has received the Sabre of Boldness award for 2018. The editors of Gottesdienst announced this on Thursday, January 18th. You may watch the video of the presentation by clicking here.
President Hill has been Wyoming District President since 2015. He is recognized as a model of steadfast adherence to confessional standards, especially for his efforts and leadership in his district that called the St. Louis seminary to account for its publication of an article in the Concordia Journal last year virtually promoting Darwinian evolution. The consequent broadside against him was uncalled for and unfortunate, implying that he and his district were wrong to respond to the article to this public error with a public defense of the faith. Although the writer of the article has since retracted his position, there has been no public retraction of the unfair accusations against President Hill. But his devout dedication has nevertheless been solid and marked by careful churchmanship. In receiving the award for him, Revs. Mark and Christian Preus, who reside in his district, referred to him as one of the humblest men they have ever known.
The choice was a most difficult one to make, and the editors noted that there were ample reasons why either of the other two nominees might just as easily have been chosen. The other two nominees were Rev. Fr. Richard "Charles" Wokoma and Rev. Johannes Nieminen.
Fr. Wokoma is the Academic Dean of the seminary for the Lutheran Church of Nigeria
and is responsible for the bulk of the teaching to between 80 to 100 seminarians annually. The Lutheran Church of Nigeria has recently been making great strides in returning the LCN to a solid confessional, sacramental, and liturgical foundation. Fr. Wokoma has been bold and faithful in the face of constant potential threats against him because of his confession, guiding the students as both a teacher and mentor. The men become pastors who are as solid and faithful as the best of our confessional young pastors in the Missouri Synod, theologically and liturgically, with full liturgical vestments. This church, moreover, is impoverished church and in need of our help. The South Wisconsin District of the LCMS has been raising funds to support them, and Gottesdienst will be pleased to add our plea to potential donors on their behalf. More information on this is forthcoming soon.
Rev. Johannes Nieminen is the pastor of Zion and Trinity Lutheran Churches in Melville, Saskatchewan. He has demonstrated steadfast faithfulness over several years, and has been constant in seeking to conform his practice to biblical norms in the various aspects of his ministry. Over the first several years of his ministry he has shown an unbending allegiance to confessional standards in his preaching, writing, and practice that has been pastoral and dedicated.
In addition to this year's recipient and nominees, the editors also wished to express a special word of acknowledgment for a lifetime of faithful labor in Christ to Rev. Fr. Charles Evanson. Fr. Evanson is well-known for his critical and sacrificial efforts toward making Redeemer Lutheran Church of Fort Wayne the confessional and liturgical standard-bearer it is today. Fr. Evanson served as pastor there from 1975 until 2000, . From 2000 until 2015 he then served with diligence and faithfulness overseas, mostly as seminary instructor for the Lutheran Church in Lithuania. A fitting tribute to him was written in 2015 by Concordia Theological Seminary President Lawrence Rast (available here). Fr. Evanson now suffers from A.L.S. and is living in Florida.