The Rev. Dr. James E. Keurulainen, former president of the LCMS New England District, died of complications related to heart disease Oct. 29 in Dedham, Mass. He was 67 years old.
The funeral service is planned for 9:30 a.m. (EST) Nov. 4 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 950 East Street, Dedham, MA 02026. Visitation is 1-3 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Nov. 3 at St. Luke’s.
Keurulainen served as president of the district for 15 years. He retired in 2012 and was given the Servant of Christ Award from Concordia College—New York, Bronxville, N.Y., that same year. A 1974 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Ill., he received an honorary doctorate from Concordia, Bronxville, in 2000.
Before his election in 1997, he served as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh (1974-77), and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Dedham, Mass. (1977-97).
In 1977, Keurulainen also took on the role of Protestant chaplain at the Norfolk County House of Correction in Massachusetts. He continued working in prison ministry for the next 37 years.
“Jim was a pastor to the core,” said the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. “He only agreed to stand for the presidency of the district if he could continue his ministry to the incarcerated. His dear wife and family are in our prayers.”
The Rev. Timothy Yeadon, who succeeded Keurulainen as president of the New England District, recalled Keurulainen’s tireless work for the district throughout his life. Until his death, Keurulainen continued to serve as a vacancy pastor.
“He was a mentor to me, my friend, not just my predecessor,” Yeadon said. “He was an unbelievably gifted preacher who pointed so many people to Christ. And now he sees Christ’s face.”
Keurulainen is survived by his wife of 43 years, Priscilla (nee Mattson); sons Scott (Melissa) Keurulainen and Eric (Kerri) Keurulainen, both of Canton, Mass.; and a brother, the Rev. Barry Keurulainen of Cabot, Pa.
Memorial contributions may be made to Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs; the LCMS Veterans of the Cross Fund; and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Dedham, Mass.
Posted Oct. 29, 2014 / Updated Oct. 30, 2014 / Updated Oct. 31, 2014
We were very sad to hear of pastors passing. We know he is with our Lord. We have been blessed to hear him preach at our church (Bethany Lutheran Church , West Hartford Ct.) and even more when he confirmed our granddaughter at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield Ma. Our prayers are with his wife and children.
I was at the Convention that elected him. A true Pastor.
He was very influential in my decision to pursue my MDiv at his Alma Mater.
This saint from his labors rests.
Prior to his first election he said to me, “Stevie, if I get elected, you still gonna be my friend?” I replied, “Jimmy, that’s not the question. If you get elected, you still gonna be my friend?” Well done, good and faithful servant AND FRIEND! Numbers 6:24-26
Jim was a very dear friend and my 2nd Vice-President when I was President of the District. I had high respect and admiration for him and was happy that he succeeded me in office. A tremendous loss to the family, the District and the Synod. We rejoice and are comforted in the fact tthat he is now with his and our Savior. My deepest sympthy to Priscilla and sons and spouses.
I met President Keurulainen in 2003 when I began to work for the New England District. He was a great preacher, a funny guy, and he had a wonderful way of seeing all sides of a story. He was always kind. I think more than anything else–more than his scholarship, his skill with numbers, his ability to remember people–I will remember his kindness, and try to emulate it.