Rev. Dr. John Adam Fluth Jr.
I am one of the Methodist pastors who descended from Christine Marie Hartung. The children of Christine Marie Hartung went on to produce, in Texas, 26 Methodist pastors, and one Methodist bishop. On 16 September 1844, Christine Marie Hartung, born January 1822 to Johann Christian Grusendorf and Justina Christian Schroeder, left Bremen, Germany on the ship Johann Dethardt, arriving at Galveston on 23 November 1844. She married Frederick Grusendorf in New Braunfelds, Comal County, on 29 August 1847. Their son, John Adam Raesner was an early German Methodist circuit rider in Texas. I am named John Adam in honor of John Adam Raesener. John Adam Raesener, was a pastor in the German Methodist Conference. He entered ministry in 1878. In 1882 the German Methodist Church of Lexington was organized. There were 12 founding families. My great-grandfather, John Adam Raesener was one of those. From the 12 founding families of the Lexington German congregation have come 26 ministers and 1 bishop. I heard the stories of John Adam Raesener, and have one of his journals, written in Low German, the language of the Eastern Netherlands. I was told that John Adam Raesener’s grandmother, Christine Marie, and father, Frederick Grusendorf led him to become a Methodist circuit rider, going from church to church by horseback. As long as I can remember, I felt called to go into ministry.
While traveling in Rome with two friends, Father Hinojosa and the Rev. Msgr. Pivonka, I was given the privilege of being asked to give the June 25, 1997 scriptural reading during Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
I was probably the first Protestant to perform this liturgy in this Basilica, consecrated in 386 A.D.
While reading Genesis 15 to a sea of people looking at me at the pulpit under the 13th century apse, I felt God’s presence. God told me that as God came to Abram, God would come to me. Months later, as director of the residential gifted and talented program at Lamar University, I was offered a Perkins fellowship and a nice house, and was admitted into Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. From that point on, every barrier to attending and graduating from seminary was removed. From seminary, I went on to serve churches in Dallas, Lewisville, Ozona, Pearsall, Brownsville, and Del Rio. I am an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. I am married to Martye, who is a public school teacher, teaching children in the preschool program for children with disabilities. We have three sons. Craig is a U.S. Army Medic, taking university classes and considering becoming a Physician’s Assistant. Kent completed a B.A., and will begin nursing school to become an R.N., and is considering becoming a Flight Nurse. Chad is taking university classes, and is considering becoming an Optometrist. In addition to the M.Div. received at SMU, I also have a Ph.D. in administration from Texas A&M University at College Station. I have been a volunteer chaplain for the Texas Department of Public Safety for 14 years, a member of U.S. Mensa for over 26 years, and a leader in the Boy Scouts of America for over 35 years.
The writings of Bosworth and Gipson help to express my thoughts about West Texas, and my mission in Del Rio. Allan Bosworth writings also fit Del Rio, “It’s a town that tries desperately to do the good and wise thing – and to do it magnanimously – and it has had a high measure of success in that. It’s a town that need not take a back seat for anyone, but it is only a few generations removed from the Algerian days of ‘Struggling Upward,” and can be sensitive. Most of all, (it)…loves its ‘dry and bitter land.’ Therefore, it wants everybody else to love it, too. But in most cases it does take longer than an acquaintanceship of two or three weeks.” Through Fred Gipson’s writings I saw the lives of the pioneers of West Texas in the lines, “He can rope a cow out of a brush patch so thick that a Hollywood cowboy couldn’t crawl into it on his hands and knees. He can break a horse for riding, doctor a wormy sheep, make a balky gasoline engine pump water for thirsty cattle, tail up a winter poor cow, or punch a string of postholes across a rocky ridge. He can make out with patched gear, sorry mounts, and skimpy grub, and still get the job done. He can do it in freezing weather or under a sun ‘hot enough to raise blisters on a boot heel.’ And all the time, under any circumstances, he works with the thorough understanding that it’s the livestock that counts, not the cowhand.”
As a Boy Scout in San Angelo, around a campfire I heard the old stories of bank robbers and floods, madstones, and Boy Scouts like Dan Beard who trained Boy Scouts to defend our country. I heard boys argue that Fred Gipson should have mentioned that women could do all those things because their grandmothers and mothers had done all those things and worse. Around Boy Scout campfires, I grew to love West Texas, its people and legends.
As pastor for six years at First United Methodist Church in Ozona, I had a radio show, and a newspaper column about West Texas folk tales. Our three boys raised fine wool lambs. My wife taught pre-kindergarten in the public schools. I’ve traveled, loved every place I’ve lived, but I have longed to return to the dry and bitter land of West Texas.
I look forward to learning and growing in Methodism, and using the words of Gipson, all the time, under all circumstances, work with the thorough understanding that it’s the congregation that counts, not the pastor.
photo courtesy of roncastlephotos.com