Tielbar ordination ceremony is Saturday, July 25

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David Tielbar, formerly of Guttenberg and currently of Dubuque, will be ordained in his home parish, St. John's Lutheran Church in Guttenberg, on Saturday, July 25, at 2:00 p.m. Community members are invited to attend the ordination ceremony. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

A Guttenberg High School graduate and member of St. John’s Lutheran Church will be ordained this month after completing his educational requirements and receiving approval from a committee of professors and spiritual leaders. The ordination service for David John Tielbar will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Saturday, July 25, at 2:00 p.m.

Tielbar and his wife, Catherine, share three children: Nicholas, 22, of Guttenberg, Alexander, 19, of Guttenberg, and Ellie, 12, who lives with her parents in Dubuque where Tielbar has been studying at Wartburg Theological Seminary. There, Tielbar spent four years examining Greek and Hebrew languages, church administration, and systematic theology; studying the New and Old Testament; and learning to teach and preach. “I’ve really enjoyed the pastoral care courses,” said Tielbar, who describes what he’s learned in his favorite classes as, “caring for people, grief work, counseling, and being an ear.” 

“They tell you your first day here that everything you’ve known so far in life is going to get turned upside down. That’s true,” Tielbar told The Press. “I would say it happened within probably the first five hours of class.” One example he gives is taken from his language classes, where he was able to absorb the true meanings of words and phrases before some spiritual ideas got lost in translation. 

“Growing up, I had a lot of people in my life tell me I’d make a good pastor some day. That was something I didn’t feel at that point.” It was on Good Friday in 2002 that Tielbar heard the call. After helping out with services, he walked home from church and reviewed the passion story from the readings that morning.  Though he admits it’s hard to describe, Tielbar says a peace and calm came over him, and he knew what he was being called to do. 

“I called my mother, and said, 'You know mom, I think God’s calling me to be a pastor.' She said, 'David, that sounds like the Holy Spirit. You need to call pastor.' She hung up on me, and if you know my mom, you know she’s not the type of person to hang up on you.” Tielbar called the church office, and just five hours later, he and Pastor Shane Anderson had talked through the experience and come to the realization that the call was real. “The first time I put on a robe (other than being an acolyte) was that Easter Sunday, when it was announced that I was planning on becoming a pastor.”

Before he was able to attend seminary school, however, Tielbar had other commitments to keep. Having just returned from a deployment to Kuwait as a member of the National Guard, he was preparing for another deployment to Egypt. There, he got to tour the Holy Land and think more deeply about his decision to become a pastor. After he returned, Tielbar began working toward a bachelor’s degree, which is required for entrance to seminary school. He joined an accelerated program at Upper Iowa University, yet deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan prolonged his undergraduate education for seven years. One month after he returned home from his final deployment, Tielbar started seminary school. 

Following his ordination this weekend, Tielbar and his wife and daughter will relocate to the upper peninsula of Michigan, where he’ll become pastor in a two-point parish at Brevort and St. Ignus – right near the bridge to Mackinac Island. 

“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is getting to know the people first –their context, and life in the U.P.,” Tielbar told The Press. He enjoys being outdoors, and plans to spend time fishing, boating, and hiking through the woods in his new locale. 

Family and friends, church members from his internship site in Osseo, Wis., and from St. John’s, members of the clergy, and a bishop, who will do the ordaining, will be in attendance at the ceremony on July 25. Questions will be asked and answered, hands will be laid, and at the end, Tielbar will have finished one journey and begun another. 

“I truly appreciate my wife and family, who have walked with me this whole time,” said Tielbar. “It isn’t easy, because their lives get uprooted too – they follow me wherever I go.” He also expressed gratitude to the members of St. John’s, Pastor Shane and Pastor Harold McMillin, to his internship site in Osseo, and for the prayers and support from all, saying, “It seems like it’s taken forever, but here we are.”

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