He never planned to return to pulpit ministry after a hiatus to do other work.
Yet Pastor Daniel Schroeder took on the role at Mighty Fortress Church in Seward just shy of 16 years ago. He will retire Sunday, Feb. 9, with a final service at 11 a.m., followed by a pizza lunch at noon and an open house from 2-4 p.m. He is retiring due to health reasons.
Schroeder said he’s the second-longest serving pastor in Seward behind Mark Haefner, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church.
He attended Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota, where he earned his associate of arts degree. He earned his bachelor's at Minnesota State University at Mankato, majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. He entered Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod where he received a Candidate of Theology (Masters of Divinity) degree. He was ordained Aug. 28, 1988. He earned his doctor of philosophy degree in July 2010.
He has served congregations in Princeton, Minnesota (vicar), several congregations in Australia and two congregations in metro Atlanta, Georgia.
He serves on the synod's board of trustees and is the chairman of the synod's Commission on Doctrine and Church Relations. He also served as the president of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Australia for several years.
Since 1999, he has served as a chaplain for the Lincoln Police and Lincoln Fire and Rescue departments. He worked as a member of the Lancaster County Mental Health Board, retiring from this position in December 2011.
Schroeder is proud of his church.
“Since the beginning, I have stressed that we are a community church,” he said. “Everything we do is a witness to the community.”
That witness includes closely working with Blue Valley Community Action Food Pantry and a “lunch for a buck” fundraiser that the church hosts July 4.
“We’ve had good support from the community,” he said.
Church services will continue after his retirement through supply pastors. Schroeder himself has worked as a supply pastor in Lincoln, where he also plays keyboard.
During his tenure, he led the parish through renovations, including heating and cooling, altar renovation and an organ project, which he will see through to its completion.
A pastor for more than 30 years, Schroeder hopes to travel in his retirement years while he still has his health. He ultimately hopes to move to Arizona to help with his emphysema.
“Little by little, I hope to lessen my commitments so I’m freeing myself up,” he said.
He still works as a chaplain in Lincoln and continues to deal with his family estate before he can leave Nebraska.
“One of the things I hope I've done is build a strong enough foundation here so the next person coming in can take it on,” he said. “You don't want to leave a mess. I'm hoping there's enough that's malleable here for the next pastor to mold it and shape it and keep it going in the right direction.”