In the tender compassion of God, John Silber Damm, pastor, professor, seminary president and beloved mentor and friend, died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, May 4, 2019 near midnight. He was in his own assisted living apartment in the Meadowview building of Wartburg, Mount Vernon, New York. Pastor Damm would have been 93 years old on June 21.
The Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated on Saturday afternoon, June 22, 2019 at 4:00 in the afternoon and his ashes will be laid to rest at Saint Peter's Church.
About Pastor Damm, from the email letter by Pastor Derr
In his long career in the Church of Christ, "Father John" served two parishes, Grace Lutheran Church, Teaneck, New Jersey and Saint Peter's Church, New York, New York. Sandwiched between his parish ministries he served first as a professor and ultimately as Academic Dean at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri and at Concordia Seminary in Exile -Christ Seminary/SEMINEX as Academic Dean and interim President Through his ministry, Father John served as mentor and friend to countless pastors and their families as well as an equally large number of parishioners and friends.
John Silber Damm was born in Union City, New Jersey on June 21, 1926 to John and Lillian (Meisse) Damm. He felt called to the ordained ministry in the Lutheran, or as he loved to refer to it, "evangelical-catholic Church." John was baptized and confirmed at Saint Matthew Lutheran church, Union City and, following his graduation from Union City public schools, entered the "system" of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and attended Concordia College, Bronxville, New York and Concordia Theological Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri. After receiving a call to serve as assistant pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Teaneck, he was ordained at Grace on June 16, 1951 and served as assistant pastor there from 1951 to 19966. During this period is received a Fulbright scholarship to study in Germany and completed his doctoral work in Education at Columbia University. John as called to teach Christian education and worship at Concordia Seminary and, by 1971 had become the seminary's Academic Dean.
While at Grace Church, he founded that parish's parochial school. In 1973, he was one of the faculty members of Concordia Seminary labeled "not to be tolerated in the Church of God" and became the principal organizer and founder of Concordia Seminary in Exile, formed on February 19, 1974. Books have been written describing the events that led to the formation of SEMINEX.
Father John was both a liturgical scholar and liturgical pioneer, playing a major role in the development of baptismally-centered, Eucharistic Lutheran worship. He was a the first to introduce the Great Vigil of Easter to a Lutheran parish. He also introduced Saint Peter's annual commemoration of Yom HaShoah to both Central Synagogue and Saint Peter's Church also in 1985.
He was a passionate teacher and proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He received an honorary doctorate from Susquehanna University in 1985. In February 2019, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago honored him by establishing the John S. Damm Chair in Pastoral Leadership at LSTC. In these his last days, nothing pleased him more than that honor.
So much more could and should be said about Pastor Damm, but this will have to suffice for now. His influence on 20th Century seminary education and his incredible care for his students, their spouses and their families has made him one of the most influential Lutheran leaders of the 20th Century. His wisdom, love and humor and his incredible sense of hospitality has affected us all.
Pastor Damm decided that, at his death, his remains should be cremated, and his ashes should rest in the Saint Peter's Church Columbarium. At his instructions, his body was clothed in liturgical vestments, including the white and green chasuble given to him by his mother on June 16, 1951, the day of his ordination.
I ask your prayers for his caregiver, Nuru, who so lovingly, faithfully and firmly cared from him over these past six years. I also ask your prayers for one another and all those people, lay and clergy, whose lives he touched with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In death, a pastor is simply, like all of us, a baptized child of God and so the following familiar prayers are use for all of us. I commend them to you.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant John. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen
Pray also for Nuru, one another and for all those whom Father John has loved and nurtured through his 68 years of ministry.
O Lord support us all the day long of this troubled life,
until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.
Then, in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest,
and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, Amen
Eternal rest grant him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him.