Dr Winterle and his wife Lídia
Dr. Walter Winterle and his wife Lídia

Rector Dr. C. Walter Winterle is a fascinating figure with a long history of  ministry in the church. He was ordained in 1973 and served in various mission congregations in São Paulo, Brazil. He served as the Brazilian Lutheran Hour speaker and also served in various positions of leadership in the Brazilian Lutheran Church (IELB). He was an assistant professor for homiletics at Concordia Seminary in São Leopoldo, RS before being called to serve as the National President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil. In this time, the Brazilian church made great strides to reach financial independence. Dr. Winterle served on the executive of the International Lutheran Council.

After serving out two terms of office as synod president, he was called to serve at the Uhuru Highway Lutheran Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya in 2006. In 2011, he moved to South Africa to serve at St Thomas Lutheran Church, the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSISA) congregation in Cape Town. During this time, Dr. Winterle also served the Mission of Lutheran Churches (MLC) part-time as project coordinator for its mission in Mozambique. In this role, he was responsible for the theological training of the first pastors of the newly established confessional Lutheran Church in Mozambique. After his retirement from congregational work in Cape Town, the MLC called Dr. Winterle to a fulltime role as missionary.

He would surely have had enough work to do just to oversee the theological training in Mozambique and the newly planned Mission Training Center the MLC is planning to establish in South Africa, but we are very grateful that he was also willing to accept the urgent call to serve as rector of the LTS in Pretoria. This position became vacant at the end of 2017 after the members’ (trustees’) meeting of the LTS, comprised of representatives of the MLC, LCSA, and FELSISA, decided not to extend the rectorship of Dr. Wilhelm Weber. The members of the LTS believe that Dr. Winterle brings a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge to the LTS, and we trust that his many connections in the worldwide Lutheran Church community will be of benefit to the LTS. His leadership skills have been honed in his terms as president of the IELB and many other positions he has held. His experience in Brazil, Kenya, and Mozambique provide a unique perspective that we believe is relevant for our African context.

The Concordia Universities in Austin and Irvine have recognized this by bestowing upon him honorary doctorates in Law (L.L.D) and Divinity (DD), while Concordia Seminary in St. Louis has recognized his contributions to mission in awarding him another honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. To take up his new position at the seminary, Dr. Winterle recently moved to Pretoria with his wife Lídia. His contract with the MLC and LTS is for three years. The funding for his position is raised by the MLC through donations. His three adult children are all married and live in three different overseas countries (Germany, England and Canada). The Winterle’s have six grandchildren.

by Rev. Christoph Weber

Mission Representative of the Mission of Lutheran Churches