Prologue 2002 ManuscriptJohn M. Gurgel, January 2002
Allow me a few words of introduction to frame these rare written words of my father, Rev. Roland A. Gurgel. He was a major force in the army of his God, once involved in many campaigns and engaged on numerous fronts. He was preacher, teacher, professor, and president, and now retired father of nine.
As a preacher his legacy is his zeal and his everlasting compassion. He had an uncanny ability to see into eternity and to share that vision with those around him. Unlike the preachers who climbed steeples in order to be closer to God, he was busy down among God’s people. He was father to many. And father of mine.
The Gurgel namesake bespeaks of the gullet, and thus, the voice. The penetrating voice of the Reverend Gurgel would seek you out, find you in your pew and get your attention, body and soul. Loud, but not shouting, forceful but not forced, full of energy that flowed like words as if hone and owned. The words were never memorized, and seldom written. I remember being “selected” to go walking with Dad towards the end of the working person’s workweek. We’d walk a lot and talk a little while he processed his thoughts, shaped his words, and arranged his sermon in his mind. I also recall being singled out by his voice as it chased you up the hall or down the basement steps in order to right some wrong or deliver a needed lesson. His voice was mentor of mine.
He loved history; more properly to him, 'His' 'story.' Will and Ariel Durant were favorites of his, because they brought past places and time to life. A Renaissance man of great intellect, he loved the people and patterns of history. He understood, but eschewed big words. He embraced the underdog and poor in spirit. He was teacher of mine.
He spoke sparingly, usually only after reflection, and wrote little. After he formally retired as a professor from Immanuel Lutheran College, he continued to serve as vacancy pastor, delivering sermons, teaching catechism classes, baptizing the new-born and re-born, confirming the young, and welcoming adults into the church. The Reverend Roland A. Gurgel touched many lives.
I remembered six lines of his from the 1965 Immanuel Lutheran College yearbook, the Lance. Six lines of poetry by Prof. R. Gurgle titled “Out From the Shadows.”
“Out from the shadows of parents’ loving care, they come Content for a day to rest beneath our lofty trees, A rest short-lived as shadows new Reaching out from years as yet unlived claim their day; Until the last shadow falls… and life begins For those who rest ‘beneath the shadow of His wings.”
He cast a large, long shadow that gave respite to great multitudes. But perhaps the greatest testimony to Grandpa, and Grandmother, Gurgel’s character is that all nine of their children, at one time in their professional lives, were either preachers or teachers. He passed on a calling as well as a name.
This is his story, in his words, with a few added comments from his children, and wife, written via email installments in 2001.
Prologue 2013 2nd EditionYet to be written...