Memorial Service

Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention
Fargo, North Dakota
July, 1993

Presentation by Father Wendelyn Vetter and Arnold H. Marzolf

Transcription by Jane D. Trygg
Proofread by Linda Haag

I: Good morning! We are all for an early morning service. Our officiating ministers for this service this morning is Father Wendelyn Vetter, pastor at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Fargo, and Professor Arnold H. Marzolf from the United Church of Christ. Now, we know that it is getting more difficult all the time to find ministers that can use the German language. We had two such ministers, but both of them backed off. Thus, we thank Professor Marzolf for stepping in as a late substitute. I am going to turn it over to them now.

AM: Let us stand to sing the hymn, and let us sing it with great joy as our fore fathers did and mothers.


WV: Let us pray. Heavenly father we ask your blessings upon us this morning as we come together to complete another successful convention. May the things that we have learned, continue to grow within us and help us to appreciate the sacrifices that our fore fathers made. Thus make us work harder to preserve the freedom that you have given us. Bless us and our families, especially the prayer service we have this morning, that we may always be open to your grave, and your love, and light. This we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture reading is taken from Psalm 84 verse 47. Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, ever singing thy praise. Blessed are the men whose strength are in thee, and whose hearts are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of Baku, they make it a place of springs. The early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength. To god of gods will be seen in Zion. The Word of God.

AM: (043-049) You may be seated.

-Long Pause-


WV: Please rise for the incensory prayer. Heavenly father, as we continue now with our morning worship, we bring to our needs as we know them. We pray for our fore fathers who have gone before us, to remember them, that they may be with you and your blessedness there in heaven. We pray to the Lord, Lord hear our prayer. For the leaders of our country, that they may continue to protect the freedom that our fore fathers won us. We pray to the Lord, Lord hear our prayer.

For ourselves, that we may always cherish the freedom that our fore fathers won for us, and that we continue to pass this on to our children and grand children. We pray to the Lord, Lord hear our prayer. For our children, that they may come to appreciate what we have given, and what our fore fathers have built for us. That they may always be willing to reach out to preserve the heritage that we have.

We pray to the Lord, Lord hear our prayer. For us as we go forth from this convention, that we will continue to remember what we have won and pass on to our children what we have learned. We pray to the Lord, Lord hear our prayer. Heavenly Father, these are our needs as we know them. Hear and answer them through Christ our Lord. Amen.


AM: Good Father, Do you think we will be forgiven if we applaud a little this morning.

WV: Yes, I think so.


WV: We are only going to sing the first and last stanza’s of (142). One of the beautiful songs of our people, and we want to sing it in a very dignified manner. You don’t have to stand.


WV: (164-166) I must tell you just a little story. When I was young, I worked as a direct public relations, and as an assistant to the President of Westford College in Lamaze, Iowa, a church related school. I had eight states to cover, to look for students, to ask for money, or to beg for it. Once I came to South Dakota, and there I had an unusual experience. But I didn’t know why until later, I am telling you that story now.

That Sunday morning the preacher announced that tonight we were going to have a substitute preacher, like they did here. The little boy in school didn’t know what a substitute was, and he asked his mother at home. Of course, she tried to make the illustration real so she said, “Well, you remember when you threw the baseball throught he front room window pane.” He said yes. She said, “That was the real pane, and until we could set up a new window, we put in card board. That was the substitute.”

So he came to church that night and listened carefully, and on the way out, he looked at me, and said, “You’re not what ma said you were. You’re a real pane!”

Now, I promised that I would only be a real pane for 12-15 minutes. I almost need that much time to make sense out of this wonderful text that we have selected to honor our beloved ancestors and those who have gone on.

We have inherited many of our blessings from our parents and grand parents and our friends who have gone on (191-195). They did not only build these institutions, they supported them. You know we have some of their children living today, who can’t even support the institutions in which they built. (197), and they sang (198-209), Blessed are they, whose strength is in thee.

They who follow thee with their hearts, who pass through the valley of weeping, will make wells. Their teachers shall be adorn with blessings, and they should win one victory after another. I have just four brief paragraphs to use in connection with this text. (215-216). Blessed are they whose strength is in thee. (217-223). We all want to be strong morally and spiritually, but that strength must be built on God. Blessed are they whose strength is in thee, meaning God. (226-230).

He, who is morally and spiritually weak and bankrupt, admits it, and confesses it to God and to others. God can help. He can make him strong. Now, we learned this truth not only from the Bible, but we learned it from our parents and from our churches. (236-237) Blessed are those whose strength is in thee. (238) Who go through the valley of weeping and make well there. (240-249). When we let our ancestors go through the valley of weeping, that means sorrow, suffering, pain, problems, grief, and starvations, we must make wells, it says, in order to find water.

As physical life is impossible without water, so our spiritual life is impossible without spiritual water. That is why Jesus said, “I am the water of life.” (257-261) Blessed are they who go through the valley of weeping, and dig wells there, spiritual wells. (263-264) Their teaches will be adorn with many blessings. (265-278). Most of our ancestors were good spiritual teachers. They read the Bible to us.

They prayed with us and over us. They went regularly to the church, and they took every child with them. They spread the gospel. They were adorned with many blessings. (283-293) Their teachers will be adorned with many blessings, and we thank God for them and their blessings. Finally, (295-296) and it is in the present tense. It says they win one victory after another, and this just doesn’t mean the past, it means now.

The present tense has no beginning and no end. The word victory here means they win one victory after another. The word victory here refers to winning some kind of struggle or battle. When we think about battles, we must always think about wars. Now the bible wasn’t talking about wars. The word victory in the original means, the over coming of obstacles. Our ancestors over came political, economic, social, spiritual and moral obstacles everywhere they went. The word overcoming here, suggests that life isn’t always easy.

Moral, ethical, spiritual obstacles must be over come. Moral and spiritual battles must be fought. (313) It is sad (314-320). He said, “ I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall never die.” What a beautiful word, and what a victory when we believe it. (327-340). Amen.

Will the others please come forward. The free will offering this morning, will go towards the expenses of the convention. All we ask is that you give freely from the heart, and with gladness.

(Music Playing for Offering) (350-375) Before the reverend dismisses us with the benediction, we will stand and sing the hymn. We will only sing stanza’s 1, 2 and the last one.


AM: Father as we remember the words just spoken, that we need to be mindful of our heritage and pass this on to our children and grand children. We ask your blessings as you send us forth, or back into the world. Heavenly Father, we ask you to be with us, bless our work, bless our families and our children, bless the things that we do, and help us always to be mindful of the great things that you have given us, especially our country, our faith, and our homeland. We ask you to bless us in the name of the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

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