ROBERT OVERGAARD, SR:
When I read of Matthew’s retirement as Director of Lutheran Brethren International Mission, I thought, “He was chosen of God!” When God sent Samuel to search for a candidate for the highest office in the land (1 Samuel 16), Samuel was directed to the family of Jesse who had eight sons. Jesse brought seven of his sons forward. Samuel asked, “Do you have any more sons?” Jesse answered, “There is still the youngest, but he is out taking care of the sheep.”
In LBIM we were looking for a person with management and leadership skills for a particular assignment in missions. We saw the gifts even though there was not the appropriate experience. Now all these years later we generously paraphrase the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 7:8) and report that God saw what we could not have known: The Lord of Hosts has shown us what he has done. He took Matthew Rogness from the parish ministry, tending the flock, and made him an effective leader over a fruitful mission that for a century, together with the newborn Churches, has made the choirs of heaven sing.
Thanks be to God for these gifts of grace to the Church and to the world.
Rev. Robert Overgaard, Sr. served as President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren from 1986 to 2001.
I was privileged to work alongside Matthew Rogness on several Church Councils and administrative committees. I found “Matt” to be supportive, articulate, experienced, optimistic, and humorous. He came to meetings prepared to address issues, propose ways to proceed, and pledge support of the final decisions. Matthew was a faithful companion in private prayer and the public ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His wife, Judy, made a powerful contribution to his work. They were/are an excellent team.
As Director of International Mission, Rogness was a strong advocate for our missionaries, an effective communicator with financial partners, and a clear voice for LBIM’s goals. The Lord God has blessed our churches and international mission partners through the life, gifts, and vision he has given Matthew Rogness.
Rev. Joel Egge served as President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren from 2001 to 2014.
Together with the voices of past CLB presidents, I give thanks to God for our colleague, Rev. Matthew Rogness, whose wise, steady, and fruitful leadership as Director of LBIM has spanned a quarter of a century. I honor my friend Matthew for his faithfulness to the mission God called Judy and him to 26 years ago.
There is a line in Proverbs 18:15, that when I read it, I think of Matthew: “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” The heart of the discerning—it sounds like Solomon envisions a unique class of persons who, being sourced in the fear of the Lord, are known for their discernment. The discerning ones, the discerning hearts, are leaders among us whose lives are characterized by this strength, and whose influence upon others and their following of God is borne out through a distinctive measure of the grace of discernment.
That, I believe, has been a forte of Matthew Rogness’ ministry among us, his insightful personalized care and direction of our missionaries and mission, as well as his valued influence upon me. Thank you, Matthew. And, may God raise up more of the discerning to gift the Church in her mission of Christ’s gospel.
Rev. Paul Larson has served as President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren since 2014.