Rev. Dr. J. Peter Pelkonen
JACKSONVILLE, FL. – The Rev. Dr. J. Peter Pelkonen was called out of this world on May 7, 2014 in Jacksonville, FL. He was 76 years old.
He was the son of Lutheran pastor and his wife, the Rev. Frank A. and Effie L. Pelkonen and was reared in parsonages in Van Etten and Spencer, New York; Mountain Iron, Minnesota; Marquette, Michigan; and Lake Worth, Florida. On June 28, 1964, he was married to Nancy L. Sprinkle, a Registered Nurse in Trinity Lutheran Church, Ashland, Ohio.
Pastor Pelkonen received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Wittenberg University in 1958 and the Bachelor of Divinity degree with honors from Hamma School of Theology in 1961. After graduation from the seminary, he was granted a year’s study at the University of Helsinki, Finland, under an appointment as a Theological Exchange Scholar of the Lutheran World Federation. Later, he completed doctoral studies in church history in the Graduate Department of Religion in Duke University and received the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Religion in 1972.
He was ordained a Lutheran pastor by the Synod of Ohio, United Lutheran Church in America, in December 1962, and very possibly was the last person to be ordained by that church body.
His ministry began with his service as Mission Developer and Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 1962-65. Following his studies at Duke University, he was called to serve on the faculty of Hamma School of Theology, Springfield, Ohio, 1968-70. Thereafter he served as Pastor of First Lutheran Church, Beach City, Ohio, 1970-74; Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Akron, Ohio, 1974-81; and Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Dayton, Ohio, 1981-1995. Following his retirement in 1995, he served as Interim Pastor in St. Mark’s Church, New Carlisle, Ohio; Zion Church, Springfield, Ohio; and Lutheran Church of Our Savior, Oakwood (Dayton), Ohio, and also fulfilled assignments as a supply preacher in a number of congregations in Ohio.
He served the wider church in a variety of elected and appointed positions, many of them related to theological education. He was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of Hamma School of Theology and of Trinity Lutheran Seminary; he was elected Secretary of the Trinity Seminary Board. For 10 years, he was the writer annually of series of sermons for the Clergy Journal and a reviewer of books for the same publication. He translated a number of articles and reports from Finnish into English for the Lutheran World Federation in connection with its 1963 World Assembly, which was held in Finland. He was the translator of the Church of Finland’s Archbishop Martti Simojoki’s work on the Nature of the Christian Faith and the Church. As an appointed member of the Lutheran Church in America’s Select Committee on Theological Education, he contributed to the writing of its Report on the Ordained Ministry, which was adopted by the LCA. At the time of the formation of the Southern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he was elected to serve as its first Secretary of the Synod.
Voluntary service to the community was wide-ranging, including membership on the Wright State University’s Medical School’s Committee on Medical Research on Human Subjects, 1989-1996.
A memorial service for Pastor Pelkonen will be held at his retirement community, Westminster Woods on Julington Creek on Monday, May 12 at 11:00am. Memorials may be sent to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in his memory.