Final tribute is paid beloved pastor at Trinity

January 31, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The two ministers and longtime friends often conversed in an exaggerated Pennsylvania Dutch accent. The Revs. Arthur L. Mentzer and Carol Henry Youse easily understood their catch phrases in the heavy German dialogue.

Details from Mr. Youse's last conversation with "Arsur", his "friend from up the road" in Taneytown, elicited hearty laughs from the congregation at Trinity Lutheran Church yesterday. Hundreds had come to pay a final tribute to their 54-year-old pastor who had served them for 10 years.

Mr. Youse described the last laugh he shared with his friend.

He was late for an appointment Wednesday morning when Mr. Mentzer called. Something made him stay on the line and continue the friendly banter.

"I am so glad I did," he said.

Not many hours after that conversation, Mr. Youse received another call at his office in Baltimore. He learned his friend had suffered a fatal heart attack.

"We never know when we will have our last conversation," he said. "It is so important to take advantage of the relationships we have and enjoy them to the fullest."

Susan Mentzer asked Mr. Youse to lead a joyful service in celebration of her husband's life of faith and ministry.

The choir, followed by several ministers and seminary interns, filed into the church singing "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee."

Strong voices from the congregation accompanied them. Vibrant, uplifting hymns like "Jesus Lives! The Victory's Won!" and The Trumpet Shall Sound" lent triumphant notes to the 90-minute liturgy.

"Your affection for your pastor is evident," said Mr. Youse. "I know that feeling was mutual."

Notes of humor also were entirely appropriate to the service, said Mr. Youse, as he recalled several stories from 30 years of friendship.

"Art was always good for a laugh," he said. "He could tell many of his jokes from the pulpit."

As he looked out on the church, every pew was filled in tribute to a "faithful, capable pastor of rare good humor." He smiled.

"Art might look around at this church today and say, 'Don't give up this opportunity. Take an offering.' "

The Rev. Paul M. Orso, former bishop of the Maryland synod of the Lutheran Church, said Mr. Mentzer might say, "Boy, you all overdid it. I am not that good."

The bishop would disagree.

"Art was a real servant of the church," said Mr. Orso. "He knew what it was to be a Christian in the fullest sense of the word."

After the sermon, the ministers left the sanctuary briefly to offer firm handshakes to the members of the congregation, who also turned to one another with clasped hands and said, "Peace be with you."

As worshipers knelt at the communion rail, the Rev. Robert Wagner sang "How Great Thou Art" in tribute to his "supervisor, mentor and dear friend."

As a member of the Field Education Committee of the Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary, from which he was graduated, Mr. Mentzer had supervised many of the interns attending the service.

"He liked to work closely with the seminary," said Mr. Youse. "He wanted a partnership in the training of future pastors."

The ministers and seminarians lined the wall at the back of the church after the service. Susan Mentzer received a comforting hug from each of them as she left her husband's church.

"Art never left anyone without asking if there was something he could pray with them about," Mr. Youse said. "We rejoice that we have had the privilege to share the journey through this life with him."

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