Rev. Dr. John Michael Brndjar

Rev. Dr. John Michael BrndjarThe Reverend Dr. John Michael Brndjar of Allentown, Pastor Emeritus of Saint Mark Lutheran Church in Allentown and President Emeritus of Lutheran Social Services of South Central PA, died Jan 23, 2016 at his home in Allentown. He was born in Danbury, Connecticut on Feb. 23, 1938, the son of the late Reverend Andrew M. and Irene (Belohlavek) Brndjar. He and his spouse, Elizabeth Susan (Vlacich) of NY City, were married on Aug. 15, 1959 in St. Paul Lutheran Church in Danbury, where his father served as pastor for three and one-half decades. Pastor Brndjar was graduated from Immanuel Lutheran Parochial School in Danbury, and completed secondary studies as an honors graduate of Danbury Senior High School. He matriculated at NY City's Wagner College, where he majored in history and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude. He received a Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and a Master of Science degree in organizational dynamics, leadership, and management from the University of Scranton. Dr. Brndjar also pursued graduate studies in historical theology at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1979, Muhlenberg College honored him with the degree Doctor of Divinity. Dr. Brndjar served as lecturer in American Church History and Slovak Homiletics at the Philadelphia Lutheran Seminary, as well as a member of that institution's board of directors. During his decade-long call to the pastorate of Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church of Hazleton, PA, he also served as vice-pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church of Freeland, PA, as dean of the Eastern District of the Slovak Zion Synod, and on numerous local, regional, national, and international expressions of the Lutheran Church. Between 1971 and 1991, Dr. Brndjar served as president and chief executive officer of the Lutheran Welfare Service of Northeastern PA, a Hazleton-based, ten-county human service agency of the Northeastern PA Lutheran Synod. It was during Pastor Brndjar's 20-year tenure at Lutheran Welfare Service that, together with the agency's board of directors, he undertook the challenge of founding Hospice Saint John, the first Lutheran-sponsored United States hospice for persons suffering terminal illnesses. In 1991, he accepted the call of the Northeastern PA Lutheran Synod to serve as an associate of Bishop Harold Weiss, with primary responsibility for the synod's 70 parishes in Berks and Schuylkill Counties, and for the synod's stewardship and social ministry emphases. Responding to the 1993 request of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's national staff, Dr. Brndjar consulted with the directors of the York-based Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania, and accepted their call to become that agency's president and chief executive officer. He served in that capacity until his retirement in July, 2000, when he and Elizabeth relocated to Allentown. Over the first thirteen years of his retirement, Pastor Brndjar served as interim president of Lutheran Congregational Services of the Lehigh Valley, interim pastor of Christ Lutheran Church of Lower Saucon, priest-in-charge of Saint Barnabas' Episcopal Church of Kutztown , and interim pastor of Saint Mark Lutheran Church of Allentown. More recently, he served numerous Lutheran and Episcopal parishes providing weekend worship leadership. At its May 27, 2012 celebration of the Holy Eucharist, St. Mark Church honored Dr. Brndjar on the 50th anniversary of his ordination and named him "pastor emeritus" of the congregation. He concluded active pastoral responsibilities at St. Mark Parish on Dec. 24, 2012. A colleague of Dr. Brndjar's recently offered this reflection: "The hallmarks of Pastor Brndjar's long and varied ministry were his complete commitment to the mission and ministry of the Church, his always forward-looking focus as he led individuals, parishes and institutions, his reverence for God's Word and his relevance to God's world, his seriousness of purpose, and the elan, joy, and fidelity with which he fulfilled his pastoral and priestly calling." Survivors: He is survived by Elizabeth, a retired art educator, school administrator, and university lecturer, as well as by their son, Dr. Jon Erik Brndjar, a doctor of internal medicine on the staff of Lehigh Valley Hospital, their daughter-in-law, Dana, their grand-daughter Alexa, and their grandsons Daniel, Hunter, and Anderson; Dr. Brndjar is survived by his siblings and their respective spouses, children, and grandchildren: Judith Brndjar, of Macungie, Irene Corkum and her spouse Roger, of Wrentham, Massachusetts, The Rev. Dr. Paul Brndjar and his spouse, Pamela, also of Macungie, and Darina Hoffman and her spouse, Michael, of Camp Hill. Services: A celebration of the Holy Eucharist in thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Pastor John Brndjar will take place in Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 1PM at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 201 E. Juniata Street, Allentown 18103. Leading the funeral liturgy and serving as Master of Ceremonies will be Saint Mark's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Gary Langensiepen. Serving as Celebrant and Homilist will be the Bishop of the Lutheran Synod of Northeastern PA, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Zeiser. All clergy attending are invited to vest in alb and stole of the season, and to process with officiants and liturgical participants. There will be an opportunity to greet family and friends from 12 noon-1 PM in the church nave. Following the worship, there will also be an opportunity for family and friends to gather in St. Mark's Luther Hall for a meal and fellowship. Cremation and Interment will be private. Contributions: Memorial gifts may be made to Saint Mark Lutheran Church, 201 East Juniata Street, Allentown, PA 18103 or to The Rev. Dr. John M. Brndjar Endowment Fund c/o SpiriTrust Lutheran Foundation (formerly Lutheran Social Services of Southeastern Pennsylvania), 1050 Pennsylvania Avenue, York, PA 17404. Online memorial tributes may be made at Arrangements by the Heintzelman Funeral Home, Hellertown.