Pastor Doug Fitzpatrick is a new pastor at Immanuel Buderim, received in 2017 by the College of Bishops as a Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP).
‘Every now and then when you’re fossicking you find a real gem – that’s Doug’, says Pastor Matt Thiele, Lead Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church Buderim, where Doug is serving. ‘Doug is a gift to the LCAQD.’
Doug was a pastor in the Churches of Christ for over 20 years. During a sabbatical from ministry he found himself led to teaching and heading up Christian Studies in Lutheran colleges. During this time he came to love Lutheran theology and was asked to be an elder at Immanuel congregation.
‘My faith life was going through a transformation. The role of liturgy, sacrament and symbol became more significant for me and my prayer life had taken a more focused contemplative direction’, Pastor Doug reflects. ‘My wife and I appreciated the relaxed liturgical style of Lutheran worship and the strong emphasis on grace. The unequivocal focus on grace is perhaps one of the most significant differences for me. The language of “shoulds and oughts” is wonderfully absent in Lutheran preaching and teaching. I also deeply appreciate the strong sacramental theology of communion and baptism.’
Fellow worshippers at Immanuel Church, where Doug was attending, began to notice his wisdom and pastoral gifts. ‘Many commented that perhaps he should return to the ministry – within the LCA’, Pastor Matt says.
As Doug worked at Pacific Lutheran College Caloundra he formed a deep friendship with Pastor Rick Zweck. Throughout Rick’s illness Doug was there – caring, supporting, praying and even bringing Holy Communion. Through this time, Rick regularly encouraged Doug to reconsider pastoral ministry. It was at Rick’s funeral that the three leading pastors (including Bishop Paul Smith) all looked Doug in the eye and affirmed Rick’s words.
‘This has been a long journey for me’, Pastor Doug continues. ‘Even when teaching, I still retained a strong sense of call to pastoral care. I had many conversations about ministry with Pastor Rick and then later with Bishop Paul. I became a Benedictine oblate during this time and also engaged in some graduate study around Benedictine spirituality. Further prayer and conversation with Pastor Matt Thiele began to focus the call toward pastoral ministry and particularly Lutheran pastoral ministry.’
Doug was ordained as a pastor of the LCA on 16 July 2017 and he is making a huge difference at Immanuel’, Pastor Matt says. ‘He hasn’t quite served for a year, and the congregation can’t work out how we survived without him!’
As for Pastor Doug, he is relishing every moment with his new faith family. ‘I really enjoy worship and being involved in the worshipping community each Sunday’, he says. ‘I find great joy in being together with God’s people as we hear and respond to God’s call to be a worshipping people.’