Indifference is not characteristic of the liturgy

Sabre of Boldness

Sabre of Boldness

The Sabre of Boldness is an annual award presented by the editors of Gottesdienst.

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Bearers of the Sabre

2019  The Reverend Douglas Spittel
2018  The Reverend John Hill
2017  The Reverend Dr. Gottfried Martens and Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, Germany
2016  The Reverend Charles Wildner
2015  The Reverend Jeffrey Horn
2014  The Reverend Michael Brockman
2013  Mrs. Katie Schuermann
2012  The Reverend Paul Rydecki
2011  The Reverend Brian Saunders
2010  The Right Reverend Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn
2009  The Reverend Juhana Pohjola
2008  The Reverend Aaron Moldenhauer
2007  The Reverend Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn
2006  Bishop Walter Obare
2005  The Reverend Edward Balfour
2004  The Reverend Charles M. Henrickson
2003  The Reverend Dr. Wallace Schulz
2002  The Reverend Erich Fickel
2001  The Reverend Dr. John C. Wohlrabe
2000  The Reverend Peter M. Berg
1999  The Reverend Gary V. Gehlbach
1998  The Reverend Dr. Edwin S. Suelflow
1997  The Reverend Jonathan G. Lange
1996  The Reverend Peter C. Bender


The Sabre is very real, an honest-to-goodness military Sabre, in token that the bearers and the nominees are all really individuals worthy of honor, at least in our humble estimation. We think that they are the real McCoy, the genuine article. They have stood in the gap, they have forded the stream, they have endured the battle. In some cases they are still enduring the battle, and for that they need encouragement.  

The Church has again fallen upon hard times, only this time the hardness of the times is also hard to discern; these days it is by stealth and treachery that the devil seeks to plunder the heavenly treasury of its would-be saints. It is by putting on airs of love and sincerity, lately the devil’s common disguise, by smiling and putting an arm on the shoulder, and gently saying, You don’t really need to be so strict, you know; these people just want a little show of nice, ecumenical friendship among churches; they want peace and goodwill above all; they aren’t asking you to compromise your views, they’re only asking you to skirt over the differences a bit. Ah, but what are the differences?Whether the Sacrament is truly Christ Himself, as He said it is. Whether the Sacrament truly gives the forgiveness of sins, as He said it does.  Whether it is faith alone that receives and has this forgiveness, as He says it has. In short, whether Christ is to be taken at His word, or not. These are the matters at stake, and nothing less.  

And the true Christian warriors and Sabre-bearers, knowing this full well, will not yield. And for this they are called stubborn, arrogant, authoritarian, dictatorial, and evil. But still they will not yield. And so perhaps they are threatened with loss of their parish, loss of their livelihood, and loss of their reputation, but still they will not yield. And so they may face the prospects of exclusion, of shunning, and of loneliness, and perhaps worst of all, the poisoned darts of the enemy, darts that have the potential to get deeply imbedded into the soul, so deeply that in their darker moments they might find themselves considering those incessant accusations with an awareness that there is some truth there, and so they might begin to question themselves, and then to face the pains of an evil conscience, from both sides of the issue, wondering, though scarcely admitting even to themselves that they are wondering—here the enemy’s poison is deeply felt—wondering whether theywere wrong all along (such are the dangers of warfare with the foe we face)—and still, they will not yield. They will not yield, because the Spirit of God within them will not yield, in spite of their own weaknesses and foibles, and moments of darkness, and they know that in the end they cannot compromise the truth of the Gospel. These are the kinds of warriors we seek to honor.

- from Dr. Eckardt's speech at the Sabre ceremony in 2005


Send us your nomination here. Remember that the award is given

"for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on behalf of the Holy Church of Christ, while engaged in the confession of His Pure Gospel in the face of hostile forces, and at the greatest personal risk."

The editors of Gottesdienst will consider your choice as the month of January approaches. At our annual meeting in Fort Wayne, Indiana, during the third week of January, we will choose one bearer from among the names we have approved, to be the recipient of the Sabre of Boldness.

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