Dr. Juan G. Berndt, professor emeritus at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, entered eternal rest in Christ Jesus Oct. 18, 2017.
Berndt retired in 1996 after 46 years of ministry as a missionary, pastor and teacher.
“Dr. Juan Berndt showed us through his life and ministry the wonderful heavenly promise, ‘A great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb’ (Rev. 7:9),” said Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer. “Concordia Seminary thanks the Lord of the church for this exemplary servant and we continue His commitment to bring the Gospel to ‘all peoples and languages’ until we are all together before the throne.”
Born in 1925 to a Lutheran missionary family in Argentina, Berndt was the eldest of 10 children. He graduated from Concordia Seminary in Villa Ballester, Argentina, in 1950 and was ordained in 1951. His first call was to a parish of five congregations centered in Oberá, Misiones, in northern Argentina. In 1954, the Mission Board of the then Argentine District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) called Berndt to begin work in Chile in the area of Playa Ancha, Valparaiso. He also helped Jose Avendano Valenzuela, a native pastor, in his formation as a Lutheran pastor.
In 1965, Berndt was called back to the seminary in suburban Buenos Aires, Argentina, to teach systematic and practical theology with an emphasis on training missionaries for the work in Argentina and neighboring Spanish-speaking countries. He taught there for almost 15 years, before accepting a call to Faith Lutheran Church in Laredo, Texas, in 1979.
From 1983 until his retirement in 1996, Berndt was called to train Hispanic workers, first with the Instituto Luterano para Ministerios Hispanos and then with the Instituto Hispano de Teologia, an extension of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
He served in this capacity until retiring in 1996. In his retirement, he served as a liturgist and preacher at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Chicago, Ill., for the congregation’s German services until retiring completely in December 2013.
Berndt was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in 1993.
Visitation will be held from 3-8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, at Zimmerman-Harnett Funeral Home at 7319 W. Madison St. in Forest Park, Ill. The funeral will begin at 9:45 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23, with a procession to St. Paul Lutheran Church at 1025 Lake St., Melrose Park, Ill., where the service will begin at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be at Concordia Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to Concordia Seminary’s Center for Hispanic Studies, 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, MO 63105.
Berndt was preceded in death by his wife, Erma Berndt, nee Beckmann; two children, Ronny and Cristian; and three siblings, Erna, Herbert and Manfred. He is survived by his children, Ursula (Ron) Abresch, Jerry (Yolanda) Berndt and Cordy (Mike) MacDonald; grandchildren, Martin, Mariana, Jonathon, Laura, Ximena, Veronica, Gabriela, Laura; great-grandson, Danny; and siblings, Margarita, Martin, Lee, Ted, Dorothy and Ernie.
“Although we grieve the loss of our brother Juan, a true father in the faith to many of his colleagues and former students, we cannot help but give joyful thanks to our gracious Lord for the gift of his faithful servant,” said Dr. Leopoldo A. Sánchez M., director of the Center for Hispanic Studies. “After serving with distinction in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina, Rev. Berndt migrated to this country where he served in the formation of U.S. Spanish-speaking pastors as a professor of theology at Concordia Seminary’s former Hispanic Institute of Theology (now Center for Hispanic Studies). His former students often recall the devotion with which Prof. Berndt studied the Lutheran confession and the seriousness with which he undertook the task of teaching it in service to the church and the spiritual care of God’s people. His colleagues and students will always remember his wit and generosity of spirit.”
The faculty, students and staff of Concordia Seminary have been blessed by Berndt’s ministry and teachings. He will be missed.
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’ (Rev. 14:13-14 ESV).
About Concordia Seminary
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis provides Gospel-centered graduate-level theological education for pastors, missionaries, deaconesses, scholars and other leaders in the name of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). To learn more, visit www.csl.edu.