A new pastor has arrived in Ahwatukee and his flock will get its first chance to hear him today, Ash Wednesday.
The Rev. Fred Gerlach will start his new position at Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 3501 E. Chandler Blvd., with a series of mid-week Lenten sermons in a series titled “The Miracles of Lent” even though he won’t be officially installed until a 4 p.m. service Feb. 25.
Gerlach replaces Intentional Interim Pastor David M. Burge, who will assume the same position at Pines Lutheran Church in Payson.
Gerlach’s installation service will be led by the Rev. J. Derek Mathers, assistant to Bishop Jamison J. Hardy of the English District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Mission Executive for the English District.
Gerlach and his wife, Lenore, grew up 20 miles northwest of New York City and met while at Pace University in Westchester, New York.
He graduated from Pace in 1979 with a degree in accounting and his wife graduated the next year with a degree in computer science.
Gerlach then began a 20-year career on Wall Street, starting with the investment banking firm Solomon Brothers, and eventually with other institutions in the financial services industry. His wife worked for the City of Yonkers and then Pepsi Bottling.
Married in 1984, the couple has three daughters.
Gerlach and his wife were raised Catholic and joined the Lutheran church in 1995 through adult confirmation.
In 2001, he entered Concordia Seminary St. Louis and graduated in 2005.He served at Bethany Lutheran Church in Trenton, New Jersey of the English District for 13 years.
“The congregation is a mission congregation of the English district because of its outreach to Liberian refugees who were relocated to America because of a violent civil war,” according to a release announcing his new post in Ahwatukee.
“This ministry involved a great amount of human care and educating people in the Lutheran Christian faith,” it added, stating Gerlach also serves on the endowment board of the English district.
The Gerlachs’ oldest daughter, Katrina, will be graduating from the College of New Jersey with a master’s in education this May and will be getting married the next month.
Their daughter Veronica has a husband currently serving in the Air Force and stationed in South Korea. She is a biomedical engineer for the Abraxas Corporation in environmental research.
Their youngest daughter, Emily, is a junior in high school.