Beloved pastor retires after years of spiritual guidanceAfter the Lord, the Rev. Dave Astrup was the most honored presence Sunday at the Mitchell First Lutheran Church’s 10 a.m. service.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
After the Lord, the Rev. Dave Astrup was the most honored presence Sunday at the Mitchell First Lutheran Church’s 10 a.m. service.
On Sunday, the congregation he pastored for nearly 15 years bade farewell to Astrup and his wife, Pat.
After more than a 1,000 sermons and 39 years’ of clerical service, Astrup had more than enough pulpit time to handle the sermon, but this time he let Associate Pastor Holly Slater handle the preaching.
“I didn’t think I could handle it emotionally,” he admitted later. “I was struggling with it as it was. This service, and this gathering today, is almost overwhelming.”
The gathering was “Dave’s Retirement Bash,” an informal farewell barbecue dinner attended by 350 to 400 at the church’s Family Life Center.
Astrup was installed at First Lutheran on Dec. 31, 1996. Shortly after accepting Mitchell’s call, the Astrups lost their Grand Forks, N.D., house in the 1997 Red River flood that destroyed numerous homes along the Red River Valley.
They built a new home in Mitchell and Pat accepted a job as an elementary school teacher with the Mitchell school district. She recently retired from that position. An accomplished pianist, she worked with the children’s choir and other ministries in the church.
“We sold our (Mitchell) home and we are going to be headed north to Dilworth, Minn., (a Moorhead, Minn., suburb east of Fargo),” said Dave Astrup.
First, however, there will be side trips to visit family in the Seattle area. Astrup said he may consider some interim pastoral assignments during his retirement.
During his time in ministry, Astrup previously served at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Grand Forks, Trinity Lutheran, Hartington, Neb., Trinity Lutheran in Crofton, Neb., and Hope Lutheran Church, Santa Clara, Calif.
Slater’s sermon noted the miracle of the loaves and fishes referenced in the New Testament, in which Christ fed the multitudes with five barley loaves and two fish.
“There is always enough when God is involved,” Slater said.
In like fashion, she said, Astrup’s time of stewardship at First Lutheran exemplified a time of giving, of spiritually feeding his church and the Mitchell community.
“More than once I heard a gasp when I told people that Pastor Dave is retiring,” she said. “ ‘Oh no,’ they said, ‘He can’t leave.’ ”
Former congregation president Chris Paustian drew laughs as he recalled that he was often mistaken for Astrup in those early years of ministry. He joked that at first he objected, but later just smiled and waved. Paustian said the experience helped his self-esteem immensely, but he wasn’t certain Astrup benefitted much from the episodes of mistaken identity.
The Astrups didn’t leave empty-handed. The congregation filled a hand-crafted box with cards offering best wishes, quilters presented a custom crafted quilt and congregation president Earl Vandever presented a piece of stained glass depicting the cross and the Bible.
After joining in a few songs with the Mitchell Barbershop Chorus, Astrup thanked those present and gave an emotional farewell.
“You have surrounded us with your love and for that we will be forever grateful,” he said.