Bishop Michael Rinehart



MLK Day Parade 2020

It was a crisp and sunny 39° morning when I woke up, but by the time the parade was over it was 56°. 50 folks from Christ the King Houston, Faith Bellaire and Covenant Houston gathered to celebrate Martin Luther King’s contribution to civil rights in this country. 

Although President Reagan signed Martin Luther King Day into law in 1983, Houston celebrated its first MLK Day Parade in 1978, 42 years ago. That year, MLKms father addressed the Houston community and commissioned the event. This year Houston native George Foreman was the Grand Marshall.

The last two years we marched in the parade held in Midtown. That parade is 26 years old. This year we marched in the “original” MLK parade downtown, 42 years old. Whichever parade, we celebrate King standing up, Rosa Parks sitting down, and end to segregation and whites-only drinking fountains, bathrooms and lunch counters. The spirit from parade participants and spectators was joyful and loving.

Good Shepherd in Marrero, Louisiana

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Marrero is on New Orleans’ “West Bank.” The West Bank is actually south of New Orleans, and east, and west. I know, things get confusing in the Crescent City. Anything on the other side of the Mississippi is “west.” 🙂

This congregation, like Gethsemane Chalmette and Bethlehem New Orleans, are former LCMS congregations. They still enjoy a good relationship with Trinity LCMS in Algiers and even share a school.

The school at Good Shepherd, Concordia Lutheran School has 140 students, but they have capacity for 240. Prior to Katrina they had 233. Enrollment is growing. With registrations rolling in, the closure of some other schools and some programs for low-income students, they believe they will hit 200 in the fall.

Prior to worship, I dropped in on 7am mass at Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Westwego, also on the West Bank, about five minutes from Good Shepherd. Father Buddy Noel has become a friend. He serves Our Lady, and also Holy Guardian Angels in Bridge City, LA, a short ten minutes away. He also serves as the Archbishop’s Ecumenical Representative. After mass we had coffee in the parsonage and talked all things ecumenical in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

When I arrived at a good Shepherd, they were setting up for worship. Pastor Bob Gnuse and President Gil Avery walked me through the day with outstanding hospitality. Bob heads up the religion department at Loyola. Below, Venetia Bryant-Meekins sets up for communion and musicians warm up.

After worship we had a huge Cajun spread with gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, French bread, king cake, pralines and more. Everything was homemade, including the king cake and pralines. Mercy. I’m going to need a more aggressive exercise regimen. I was too busy eating to take photos, but I did get this gem. Mark asked me if I wanted a little hot sauce. Apparently it packs a punch. 🙂

Reformation Trip 2020

June 5-14, 2020






Friday, June 5, 2020 – Travel!
Depart The U.S. from your city.

Saturday, June 6, 2020 – Leipzig
Arrive Leipzig. This event begins and ends in Leipzig. A bus will be available to whisk us to the Leipzig Marriott at 3:00 from the airport. If you arrive after that, it’s easy to grab a taxi or a train. We’ll do a brief walking tour of town before dinner. Breakfasts and Dinners are covered by the tour. Lunches will typically be on your own.

robert moore preaching

Sunday, June 7, 2020 – Leipzig
In the morning we will worship at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. J.S. Bach (1685-1750) served as music director of the city of Leipzig. He is buried at St. Thomas. We may also visit the Old City Hall and St. Nicolas Church, where the prayers were said leading up to the fall of the communist regime.

Monday, June 8, 2020 – Weimar
On Monday we will head out to the city of Weimar, home to the German Enlightenment, as well as Goethe and Schiller. In the afternoon we will visit Buchenwald Concentration Camp, one of the largest Nazi work camps in Germany. In the evening we will make it home to Leipzig for dinner.


Tuesday, June 9, 2020 – Eisenach and the Wartburg Castle
Tuesday we will visit the Wartburg, the famous castle built in the Middle Ages, where Luther was hidden for 300 days, and where he translated the Bible into Ger

man. We will also have an opportunity to visit the Luther House (and Museum) where the teenaged Luther lived with the Cotta family from 1498 to 1501. We can’t miss the Bach House, a museum to the Lutheran musician and composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, who was born in Eisenach. Check out this short, 40-second video on Eisenach:

Wednesday, June 10, 2020 – Erfurt
On Wednesday we will move to a new hotel in Erfurt, the capital of the State of Thuringia, where Luther lived as an Augustinian friar from 1505 to 1511. After lunch, we will visit St. Mary’s Cathedral, a romanesque basilica where Martin Luther was ordained on April 3, 1507. Then we will get a more formal tour of at St. Augustine’s Monastery (Augustinerkloster). After a last afternoon rest, we will conclude the day with a festive dinner at Wirtshaus Christoffel. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020 – Erfurt
Thursday we will have some time to explore Erfurt, and do some shopping at the Krämerbrücke (Merchants’ Bridge). This is a day to sleep in, wander and catch your breath.

Friday, June 12, 2020 – Eisleben
Eisleben is a beautiful town in Saxony-Anhalt, where Luther was born, and coincidentally, the town where he died. We will visit the newly renovated St. Peter’s Church where Luther was baptized. We will visit both his birth house and the house where he died.

Saturday, June 13, 2020 – Wittenberg
Wittenberg, formally Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is where Luther lived, taught and posted the 95 Theses. There we can choose from several options: The Luther House (and Museum) is the Augustinian house where Luther lived, first as a monk in 1511, and later as a family man, until he died in 1546, for a total of 35 years. The Melanchthon House (and Museum) is where Luther’s friend and fellow Reformer Phillipp Melanchton lived. Martin Luther and Johannes Bugenhagen both preached at the City Church or Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien zu WittenbergAll Saints Church (commonly referred to as the Schlosskirche, or Castle Church), is where the 95 Theses were posted.


Sunday, June 14, 2020 – Leipzig
The tour ends in Leipzig the following morning when you arise. Most of us will worship at St. Thomas Church and then head out. You are free to extend your stay or travel home. We can assist you setting up arrangements or getting you to the Leipzig airport.

The temperatures in early June can alternate between cool and hot. Rain and snow are always possible. Dress accordingly.

Group size: About 15 people.

Cost: $2,400 per person, double occupancy. And additional $500 for single occupancy. Costs include hotel, ground transportation once we are in Leipzig until we end in Erfurt, all meals except lunches any dinner if you eat separately from the group. Plan on some expenses for gratuities. Cost does not include airfare. The schedule is subject to change. The event begins and ends in Leipzig. The tour is being led by Bishop Michael Rinehart.

REGISTER NOW: A $500 refundable deposit is due upon registration. A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 will be due March 5, 2020. Final payment is due May 5, 2020. This trip is open to all. To register send your name and deposit to:

TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod
12941 I-45 North Freeway, Suite 210
Houston, TX 77060
Memo: Reformation Trip 2020

Questions? Contact

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf of springtime.
—Martin Luther

Luther and the Reformation: A Chronology

1184 – Waldensians declared heretics.
1384 – Wycliffe died.
1415 – July 6, Jan Hus burned at the stake for his 45 propositions. From the pulpit he condemned indulgences, simony and papal immorality.
1450’s – moveable type invented.
1453 – Constantinople falls to Ottomans
1498 – Savonarola interrogated, tortured and hanged.
1. Childhood – 14 years (1483-1497)
2. Formal education – 8 years (1497-1505)
3. First career: Professor – 17 years (1505-1522)
4. Second career: Reformer – 24 years (1523-1546)
1. CHILDHOOD – 14 years 

1483 – Luther born on November 10, 1482 in Eisleben, to Hans and Margarethe Luder (or Ludher, later Luther). The next day he baptized on the Feast of St. Martin of Tours. He grew up in Mansfeld where he attended the Latin school.


1497 – At age 14 Luther was sent to the cathedral school in Magdeburg.
1498 – Sent to Eisenach (just below the Wartburg) to be closer to family.
1501 – University of Erfurt at age 18. He would spend 10/11 next years here, four at the university and six at the monastery.
1502 – Passed baccalaureate exam. Started masters, requiring intense study of Aristotle.
1505 – Masters. Biretta and ring authorizing him to teach as a university professor and hold disputations. Also now able to enroll in jurisprudence, medicine or theology. Enrolled in law.
1505 – July Luther abruptly quit law and entered the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. Studied for the ministry. Not all monks do.
1507 – Ordained.
1508 – and 1509 Luther lectured on Aristotle
1510 – Trip to Rome.
1511 – Luther moved into the Augustinian house in Wittenberg where he lived the rest of his life, first as a monk, then as a husband and father.
1512 – Received doctorate and succeeded Staupitz as chair of the department of theology at Wittenberg. Sworn in by Karlstadt. Taught first course: Psalms verse by verse until 1515.
1515 – Taught Romans.
1516 – Taught Galatians.
1517 – Taught Hebrews.
1517 – The 95 Theses.
1518 – The Heidelberg Disputation (April 26) and the 28 Theses.
1518 – Luther ordered to Rome. Frederick sent him to Augsburg instead where Cardinal Cajetan was to take his recantation. Cajetan demanded Luther be turned over or driven out of Saxony. Frederick refused. Can’t have his superstar executed, who is attracting record numbers of students to his new university.
1519 – Luther debated Eck in Leipzig.

1519 – Charles elected emperor, age 19?

1520 – June. Papal Bull Exurge Domine declaring Luther a heretic

1520 – Luther published Freedom of a Christian.

1521 – January. Papal Bull excommunicating Luther.
1521 – April, Diet of Worms.
1521 – Suleiman the Magnificent captured Belgrade.
1521 – Emperor put ban on Luther but still needed support of German princes against Turkish threat. Luther now an excommunicated, imperial outlaw.
1521 – May 1521 to March 1522, Luther in the Wartburg. 300 days.
1521 – 13 brothers quit the monastery and married in November.
1522 – January Karlstadt (35) married Anna von Molchau (17?).
1522 – March 6 Luther left the Wartburg after ten months.
1522 – Sermons on Christian Freedom.
1522 – Lay people begin receiving the cup in Wittenberg. Karlstadt beings using the Words of Institution in German.
From this point on Luther is swept along with the flow of events. Support for Reform was given or denied by city councils and princes. If a local priest began preaching salvation by grace alone, offering the cup, condemning indulgences, Rome would pressure through the bishop and the priest would appeal to the city council.
1523 – Easter 12 nuns smuggled out of Marienthron Cistercian Cloister
1523 – Luther published That Christ was Born a Jew, a positive appraisal of the Jewish community.
1524 – Luther stoped wearing his monastic garb
1525 – Peasants’ War (Revolution of 1525). Luther wrote Admonition to Peace, fearing anarchy and the destruction of Germany.
1525 – Radical preacher Thomas Müntzer forced to confess and executed.
1525 – Frederick received bread and wine in his final communion, then passed away.
1525 – June 13, Luther married Katharina von Bora (1499-1552), one of 12 nuns he had helped escape from the Nimbschen Cistercian convent in April 1523. Katie had lived there since she was nine years old.
1526 – Hans Luther was born.
1526 – Turkish rule established in Hungary.
1527 – Elizabeth Luther was born but died within a year.
1528 – Saxon Visitation.
1529 – Cochlaeus published the 7-headed Luther.
1529 – Magdalena Luther was born.
1529 – Ein Feste Burg written? Lord Keep Us Steadfast In Your Word?
1529 – Turks laid siege to Vienna (300 mi from Munich). Charles begged for support of both Lutheran and Catholic princes.
1530 – Diet of Augsburg in June, where Lutherans defended their faith. Not safe for Luther to attend. Charles renewed Luther’s outlaw status and gave churches six months to dismantle religious innovations/ reforms. Burning of German New Testaments, hymnboks, etc.
1530 – Schmalkald League formed for protection.
1531 – Martin Luther Jr. was born.
1531 – Luther lectured on Galatians again. Ein Feste Burg published.
1533 – Paul Luther was born.
1534 – Margarethe Luther was born.
1534 – Wittenberg Bible published. 200,000 copies of Luther’s New Testament have already been sold.
1535 – Luther began teaching courses on Genesis.
1535 – Papal Nuncio Vegerio visited Luther in Wittenberg. How do you do ordinations without bishops? Luther promised to attend a council if it was held.
1537 – Theologians and rulers met in Schmalkald. Luther had a urinary infection. Frederick refused to attend the council. Luther resumed writing, preaching, lecturing and serving as dean of the theology faculty at Wittenberg.
1539 – Luther preached in Leipzig commemorating his debate with Eck 20 years earlier. His text was John 12, Jesus’ assurance to be with all who keep his word. Luther used this to say the true church was that which kept Jesus’ word, not the dictates of Rome.
1539 – Luther published The Councils and the Church, showing contradictions between the decrees of popes and councils.
1540 – Landgrave Philip of Hesse married without divorcing his wife (mother of 10).
1541 – Turks threatened again.
1542 – Magdalena Luther dies at age 13, in a heartbroken Luther’s arms.
1543 – On The Jews And Their Lies published. Advocated burning Jewish synagogues, schools, houses and books. Catholic John Eck had said the same thing.
1544 – Luther exaggerated the threats enemies on all sides. Turks, Jews, enthusiasts, sacramentarians, Rome, Emperor Charles V who he believed was going to force the Lutherans back under Rome once the Council of Trent has completed its reforms.
1545 – Against the Roman Papacy Instituted by the Devil. 
1546 – February 18 Luther died while mediating a dispute in Eisleben.
1546-7 – Schmalkald War. Katherine and children (and Melanchthon) flee Wittenberg twice, the second time to Braunschweig.
1548 – Charles defeated protestants and captured Wittenberg.
1549 – RC Johann Cochlaeus published Commentary on the Acts and Writings of Martin Luther of Saxony
1552 – In December Katharine died. Buried at Torgau. 4/6 children survived.
1555 – Lutherans given legal status in the empire by Charles V (b. 1500).
1557 – Charles retired.
1559 – Charles died.
1633 – Galileo convicted of heresy. Sentenced to life in prison, commuted to house arrest for the rest of his life.
1655 – Slaughter of Italian Waldensians.
1738 – John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience, his heart “strangely warmed” at hearing Luther’s Preface to Romans.
Late 1800’s – Nietzsche
John Bugenhagen – Pastor and professor in Wittenberg. Assumed responsibility for new Protestant religious constitutions in N Germany and Denmark. Presides at Luther’s wedding.
Karlstadt – Professor Andrew Bodenstein. Nicknamed after his city. Administered the oath to Luther (1511?) in which he swore not to teach anything condemned by the church.
John Lang – Augustinian brother and friend.
Gabriel Zwilling – Fellow Augustinian.
Charles V – (1500-1558) Son of Philip the Handsome and Joana the Mad. 1519 Charles became the holy Roman Emperor and the Archduke of Austria.
Luther and Katie’s Six Children
1. Hans (1526-75) lawyer in Weimar.
2. Elizabeth (1527-8) died in infancy.
3. Magdalena (1529-42) Conceived within a year. Lived to 13. Died in Luther’s arms.
4. Martin (1531-65) studied theology. Died in his 30’s.
5. Paul (1533-93) Professor & physician
6. Margarethe (1534-70) 18 years old when Katie died.


The Census in my Family

We don’t know how my great, great, great grandfather Valentine Rinehart (1773-1868) spelled his last name. We don’t even know if he could read or write. Maybe he didn’t spell it at all.

In the 1820 census, 200 years ago, the census-taker spelled Valentine and his wife Elizabeth’s last name Rinhart. Notice the census recorded only the name of the head of household, then the number and relative ages of the others in the household.They had nine children. This census lists 11 in the household. There were no questions. No interest in citizenship. A census counts all people in the country, not citizens.

In the 1830 census, the census-taker spelled their last name Rhinehart (second line down, below). In 1830 Valentine was 57, a year younger than I am. Four of their nine children were still living in the household it appears. His son David’s baptismal record (May 28, 1807) from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Somerset County, Pennsylvania spells his last name Reinhardt.

Valentine’s gravestone spells his last name Reinhart.

Valentine’s son David appears in the 1840 census (bottom, below). The census-taker spelled David’s last name Rineheart. Family of five.

David named his son Valentine III, after his father and his uncle. My grandfather Howard (born 1901), the youngest of eleven children, is obviously not yet in the 1900 census. The census-taker spells his last name Rinehart. It’s interesting that Valentine says he’s a farmer, and he and his wife Christena indicate no schooling. He is 17 years older than his wife. A citizenship question is on the census, but there are no answers to the questions, in any of the pages I read. There are eleven in the household: nine children.

Thank you Pastor Marcus Otterstad

Marcus Otterstad was born to Rev. Robert and Helene Otterstad on May 22, 1942 in Bismarck, North Dakota.

He was a 4th generation PK and a 3rd generation St. Olaf grad. Marcus attended St. Olaf with Paul Blom, our beloved former bishop. Marcus’ major was History. From there he headed as per the family tradition, to Luther Seminary in Minneapolis, MN, as had his father and grandfather before him.

When he graduated, he began his first call in 1968 as an Associate Pastor at Memorial Drive Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas.

His second call was at St. John’s in Waller, Texas, followed by Advent Houston. At this fourth call, Living Word in Katy, Texas, he helped the congregation move to its current location. He did the same at his final call, House of Prayer Houston, on Space Center Blvd, where we held his memorial service.

Marcus’ spent his last years supply preaching and helping congregations in need. Having presided over hundreds of baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals, he claimed his baptismal promise on December 20, 2019. Our love to his son Opie and family.

Prior to his memorial service the choir warmed up and people began to gather:

A choir sang F. Melius Christiansen’s Beautiful Savior.


Christmas 2019 Around the Synod

A few shots from Christmas 2019 in the Gulf Coast Synod I grabbed from Facebook posts…

Tree of Life, Conroe, Texas

Christ the King, Houston, Texas

Kinsmen, Houston, Texas

Living Word, Katy, Texas

St. Paul, Brenham, Texas

Lord of Life, The Woodlands, Texas

Zion, Houston, Texas

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