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This man of God practiced chiropractic in Bakersfield from 1986-2017 and now he’s the new pastor of the church by Todd Grove Park – Faith Lutheran Church-Ukiah LCMS, installed July 25, 2021.
After serving a year of pastoral internship, the Rt. Reverend Stuart A. Sultze was installed.
He arrived in Ukiah in June 2020, serving his internship at Faith Lutheran under the supervision of Interim Pastor Robert Roberts. Prior to this, he was ordained at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bakersfield, Calif. on July 11, 2021.
Explaining this late life course change, Sultze said, “I was led into the ministry when I observed that many of the churches in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (the church body to which I belong) were seeking a pastor, but not enough were available. I thought, ‘I can do that!’ After all, pastors only work two hours every week on Sunday mornings! (Laugh).
“As far as ‘working for God,’ I don’t look at it that way – God doesn’t need our works. After all He is the Maker of heaven and earth, and everything in it!
“We all work for each other in our different vocations, depending on where God has placed us. Pastors do, however, have the responsibility of being the public face of the congregation and of preaching and teaching God’s Word, the Bible; the central teachings of it are that all people are sinners and liable for judgement, but God has provided forgiveness and salvation for us through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.”
When asked how he plans to do things differently (if at all) in Ukiah from his former church in Bakersfield, he replied, “Our plans are not to do something new or different than what St. John ‘s Lutheran in Bakersfield does – just provide the same services in a different community context.
“My life changed direction from chiropractic to pastoring mostly because I saw a need that I could fulfill. I left my practice in the hands of a very capable colleague. My children were grown and had moved away, and my parents had passed. Plus, I found the prospect of studying theology at seminary very stimulating.”
He commented on his move: “As far as being led to Northern California, it was not my choice – but I am glad to be here! The seminary sends graduates to their first call. Plus, I like to play golf, and the first tee at Ukiah Municipal is only 125 yards from the church! I think the seminary knew I would like that! “
Most pastors are clear about their “call from God” to the ministry.
“As far as the call, God had been drawing me to this for a couple of decades – I was just waiting for the right time,” said Sultze.
“All in the community are invited to come to our services at 9 a.m. every Sunday. For those interested we are a confessional, liturgical, evangelical church,” he added.
“Confessional means that we believe the three ecumenical creeds (confessed by almost all Christians for nearly 1700 years) and the Book of Concord of 1580 (a compilation of writings by several esteemed theologians at the time of the Reformation) are true summaries of the Bible’s teachings.
“Liturgical means we utilize many of the ancient ceremonial forms and hymns that have been used in Western Christendom for centuries. Evangelical means that our central message is ‘good news’ for all people – God has provided for the salvation of everyone through Jesus, and this gift is received through faith,” explained Sultze.
Since November 2020, Faith Lutheran was led by Right Rev. Robert R. Roberts, 89, serving as “Vacancy Pastor” after their pastor, The Right Rev. Maynard Luther Schulz, retired and moved to another state after serving 27 years.
Roberts stated, “I am delighted to turn the reins over to the new Pastor.”
Sultze was born in Davenport, Iowa and grew up in Bakersfield. He met his wife, Cathleen, at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. Sultze holds a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries from the Masters College in Santa Clarita, Calif., a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Indiana. He practiced chiropractic in Bakersfield from 1986 to 2017. He was ordained at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bakersfield, California on July 11, 2021.
Stuart and Cathleen have three children, Tara (37), Janaya (34) and Nathan (32) and three grandchildren. The couple is excited to begin this new adventure in their lives.
Church services are at 9 a.m., followed by fellowship and Bible study at 10: 30 a.m. The church is across from Todd Grove Park at 560 Park Blvd., (707) 462-2618 .
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