The Rev. Dr. Gary M. Arp, who served as president of the Iowa District East (IDE) for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) from 2000 to 2009, died on March 12. He was 85.
Arp was born Nov. 15, 1934, to Adolph and Betty (Kolls) Arp. He attended Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Ill., and was ordained into the pastoral ministry on July 31, 1966, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Sioux Valley Township, Minn.
Arp served the dual parish of Our Savior Lutheran Church, EI Dorado, Ark., and St. John Lutheran Church, Crossett, Ark., 1966–70. He then served at Immanuel Lutheran Church & School, Clarinda, Iowa (1970–83), and St. John Lutheran Church, Waverly, Iowa (1983–2000). He served as chairman of the LCMS Iowa District West (IDW) Education Committee; a member of the IDW Board of Directors; and as a vicarage supervisor, circuit counselor and Synod reconciler.
In 1997, Arp began serving as first vice-president and chairman of the Board of Directors for IDE. He served as IDE acting president before being elected president in 2000. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, in 2003.
Before his graduation in 1966, Arp took a five-week course in Bible lands history and then spent five weeks traveling to nine European and Middle-Eastern countries. One of his cherished experiences as a parish pastor was baptizing and catechizing Sarka Prchalova, a foreign exchange student from Prerov, Czech Republic, who was attending Waverly High School in Waverly, Iowa. He later worked with the Rev. Dr. Darius Petkunas and the IDE to raise funds to build a new church, diaconal center and parsonage in Palanga, Lithuania.
IDE President Rev. Dr. Brian Saunders said, “President Arp was a man who never let his feet leave the ground. He was ordained a servant of the Word and retained that disposition into his presidency of Iowa District East.
“IDE is very committed to the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions. The district has excellent pastors and church workers, along with faithful and dedicated congregations. This is due in large part to the oversight President Arp offered before and during his presidency.
“President Arp preached the Word, cared for the sheep of his flock and continued to do this from the district office. Any district president would do well to pray that he could emulate President Arp’s character and steadfastness.”
Arp is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marjorie (Davis) Arp; his sister, Karlyne (Paul) Ackerman of Lakefield, Minn.; his children, the Rev. Wally (Lois) Arp of Winter Springs, Fla.; Becky (Steve) Lehenbauer of Winter Springs, Fla.; and Christy (Dwight) Mayer of Essex, Iowa; and grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his daughter, Lonny, and son-in-law Robert Larson; and his nephew, Mark Ackerman.
The burial was March 17 at Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery, Clarinda, Iowa.
Posted March 20, 2020
My condolences to the family.Hope you are all doing well, also as we contend with this Virus.My prayers are with you.
Kind regards and blessings Gayle
Gary Arp was my circuit counselor in my first parish in Iowa and became a dear mentor and father in Christ to me and the young pastors in our circuit. He and his dear wife Marge were so gracious and kind to us and our families and their great source of joy were their children and grandchildren. I remember him once telling us pastors at a Wenkel meeting, “I visited a congregation on vacation and as I left the service I shook the pastor’s hand and complimented him on not failing properly to distinguish law and Gospel but told him the only reason that was possible was because his sermon had contained no law and no gospel at all.”
Prayers that our Wonderful Lord brings comfort to Rev. Dr. Arp’s family and friends!