The Reverend Arlyn Tolzmann will return to his home congregation on June 30 as part of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church’s 125th anniversary.
A graduate of Forest Lake High School in 1961, Gustavus Adolphus in 1965 and Northwestern Theological Seminary in 1969, he has served parishes in Texas and Colorado.
Tolzmann ends each sermon with an original poem. “My English teachers would be surprised,” he says.
His latest book of poetry is “Whimsical Biblical,” illustrated by his son Nathan and edited by his wife Jeanne.
The title of his sermon at Faith will be “risk-taking mission.” It will end with a poem written for the 125th anniversary celebration.
Tolzmann will sign copies of his book before and after the 8:15 and 10 a.m. services, with proceeds going to Faith.
Tolzmann’s family roots at Faith go back 90 years. He attributes his response to the ministry call to his parents, Leonard and Irene Tolzmann (now deceased), and the influence of Faith Lutheran.
“I will never forget that October day when Faith’s building burned. We normally had 12 to 15 active youth at Luther League meetings. The Sunday after the fire, 50 or more youth showed up at our home on North Shore Drive, not far from where a new church would be built,” Tolzmann said.
In his sermons he has portrayed Bible characters (including the devil) and Martin Luther.
Known for warm, poignant and often humorous sermons, Tolzmann brought to his ministry “holy hilarity Sunday.”
This early church custom, based on the reasoning that by raising Jesus from the dead God played a tremendous practical joke on the devil, was called risus paschalis, “the Easter laugh.”
On the first Sunday after Easter, Tolzmann does a faith-based stand-up comedy routine.
An advocate of domestic violence awareness, he has served on local and state agencies and represented Colorado at a national conference.
From 1999 to 2009 Tolzmann was a chaplain of the Colorado Senate, where each year he summed up the legislation in a poem.
He credits FLHS history teacher Rollie Nelson for his interest in current events.
Faith continues its 125th anniversary celebrations with a homecoming weekend beginning Saturday, July 6. A BBQ picnic and music will take place in Tolzmann Park adjacent to the church at 886 North Shore Drive, beginning at 6 p.m.
The 8:15 and 10 a.m. worship services on July 7 will feature the Barbary Coast Dixieland Band.
A vespers service is planned for the actual 125th anniversary date in October.