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jonathan charles naumann

Although, as of the late summer of 2003,1 have now returned to the land of my birth, after twenty-one years of Christian ministry abroad, in Great Britain, I still consider myself a missionary. I suppose I always will. The Naumanns have had a long history of missionary interest. My great grandfather was part of a missionary move to America from Dresden, Germany, the origin of the pioneers of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. My Grandfather was a missionary and that is why my father was born on the Isle of Pines, Cuba. I was born on the 19th of March 1957 in Springfield, Illinois, USA not far from the Seminary faculty who later trained me for the Ministry. My childhood as a 'southerner' began soon thereafter, when my family moved to Miami Florida in 1960. Everybody in that part of Florida came from somewhere else, it seemed, so I got used to being somewhat foreign, with my Cuban relatives fleeing from Castro and my grandmother being one of the islanders (a British subject from the Cayman islands).

It became part of my understanding of the meaning of life that we Christians are all missionaries (or should be) in one way or another, until everyone on earth hears the Good News of God's love through Jesus Christ. It also became clear to me that it is normal for a Naumann to want to leave the land of his birth. Since childhood, I always wanted to live in England. Only God knew why. I am grateful to Him that since then He has let me in on the reason. Even Cheryl Freitag, the girl I came to marry in 1977, was prepared to go along with my dreams, and so the stage was set for a wonderful life.

My undergraduate and post-graduate education took place in the heartland of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. I earned a B.A. from Concordia College. Ann Arbor, Michigan USA (1979) and an M.Div., from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana USA (1982). By the end of my seminary career I was already in England, graduating in absentia because I did my last term of seminary training at Westfield House with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England. I was ordained during the annual Synod at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Harlow, of the ELCE in September of 1982.

My first parish was St. Columba Lutheran Church, East Kilbride, Scotland (Sept. 1982 - January 1988). While there I continued the post-graduate study I had originally planned to do at Cambridge. Throughout a six-year part-time study program that concluded in England, I was awarded an M.Th. and finally a Ph.D., from Glasgow University, Scotland (1990).

After having most of my rough edges smoothed down by the years of living in Scotland. My growing family and I moved south to take up my second parish: St.Andrew's Lutheran Church, Ruislip, England (January 1988 - 2003). In 1990 we added a daughter to our inventory of children: Brian (13 July 980). David (12 Oct.1981), Edward (23 Nov.1982), Gordon (15 May 1984), Nigel (29 Sept.1986), and finally Dorothy (10 May 1990).

During all these years of mission and ministry I served as a member of the ELCE's Board for Youth 1984-1990,1997-2003), Guest lecturer at Westfield House, Cambridge (Winter 1986/87,1993 & '94). Member of ELCE Hymnal Committee (1989-1991), Member of ELCE Worship Committee (1994-1995, Chairman: 1997-2003), Curacy Supervisor for Neil Guthrig (1992-1993), Chairman of ELCE Pastors' Conference (1994-1996, 1998-2003), Co-editor of LWLGB Newsletter (1983-1987) and Editor of The Young Lutheran (1984-1990), Pastoral advisor to the Magazine: The British Lutheran”, Pastoral Councilor, Evangelical Lutheran Church of England's Executive Council (1998 - 2000 ), In all this I have been tirelessly assisted by my able wife, who has also excelled in a career of her own as a free­lance writer, while simultaneously serving at my side, using the talents that were developed in her training as a Lutheran Deaconess.

I have been privileged to add teaching experience to my life after different times when I was invited to instruct students ranging from the undergraduate to the seminary level. For one term, in the autumn of 2000,1 even spent some time living in New York where I served as visiting professor of Religion at Concordia College, Bronxville. In January and February 2002, I was deployed by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation in East Africa, to teach in Khartoum at the Concordia Institute for the Holy Ministry of the Lutheran Church of Sudan. Occasional experience instructing seminary students in Cambridge, at Westfield House, had prepared me somewhat for the work in Africa. But nothing really prepared me for the feeling of adventure that was involved in those weeks in that radically alien environment.

The work and the life of an ELCE pastor was very fulfilling to me and my wife and six children were happy in Britain. Four of them still are. My eldest son, Brian is a Barrister-at-Law. He lives in London. My next son, David, is a Cambridge graduate and British Army surgeon. The next son, Edward, is an honors graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, earning a Ph.D. at Catholic University in Washington D.C. and studying for the Holy Ministry at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana.  His brother Gordon is as pastor of St. David Lutheran Church in Cardiff, Wales (United Kingdom).  My youngest son is a graduate of the University of Durham, England, now living in Libya, teaching English.  My daughter, Dorothy, enjoys life in the USA and is studying in the Deaconess Program at Concordia - Chicago.

Their mother, my dear wife Cheryl, is Deaconess at Redeemer Lutheran Church & School, Oakmont and her book “In the Footsteps of Phoebe”, a history of the LCMS deaconess movement is the standard text on the subject.    Edward and his wife Monica and Gordon and his wife Marta have produced our four grand-children: Martin, William, Hannah and Ruth.

Britain was a place where I was challenged as a missionary, inspired as a worshipper, exercised as a father and as a husband. It was a place where my most fascinating hobby became simply searching for the hidden beauty of the island - a pastime that was endlessly rewarding. I am happy to say that here in Pittsburgh and at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Oakmont; it is very easy to continue to enjoy that particular hobby.

 

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