Lutheran Church of Our Savior has announced the appointment of the Rev. Dr. C. Thomas Spitz as interim pastor for the period of Sept. 1 to Dec. 31. "Dr. Spitz, a member of the congregation, will serve," said George Martin, president of the congregation, "during the time that Pastor Charles Vogeley is on sabbatical leave."
A resident of Long Island since 1967, Dr. Spitz has served as a pastor in Manhasset, a church administrator and ecumenical leader, and as a mass media executive.
From 1965 to 1973, he was the first general secretary of the Lutheran Council in the USA, a national cooperative agency of the four largest Lutheran church bodies in the United States. Council responsibilities included theological study, inter-church and interfaith dialogue, college and university support, mission review and cooperation, social service, military chaplaincy, public relations and representation in Washington. He was frequently called upon for testimony before committees of the US Senate and House.
When a radical change in leadership and attitude toward cooperative work occurred in the participating church body of which he was a member, Dr. Spitz resigned his council position to accept the pastorate in Manhasset. With the whole-hearted support of that parish, he worked aggressively throughout the United States in the founding of a temporary church body called the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. The basic purpose of the AELC was the protection of pastors, teachers and congregations who could no longer subscribe to the positions and practices newly developed and imposed by the leadership of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. A further, positive intention was the promotion and development of a merger with the much larger Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church.
In 1978, he authored the Call to Lutheran Union, adopted by the AELC and forwarded to the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church for favorable action taken by them that same year. He then served as staff for the Committee on Lutheran Unity until the formal votes for merger took place in 1983. The merged church, of which the Port Washington congregation is a member, is named the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
From 1977 to 1983, Dr. Spitz represented the AELC on the Commission on Faith and Order, the ecumenical arm of the National Council of Churches, serving for four years as vice-chairperson. It was during this period that participants from the non-NCC member Roman Catholic Church accepted leadership positions within the Commission.
In 1967, he represented the Lutheran Council in inaugurating the Lutheran-Episcopal dialogue which culminated in the 1999 Common Agreement in which the ELCA reciprocally declared full communion with the Episcopal Church, in full recognition of each others ministers and ministries. Other dialogues in which he participated included Roman Catholic, Orthodox, the Jewish community, Southern Baptist, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, and sectors of the evangelical community. Many of these dialogues are ongoing.
In 1953, Dr. Spitz joined the staff of the International Lutheran Hour. As director of broadcasting, he supervised 24 branch offices on six continents and the production of indigenous programming in 42 languages per week. He worked closely with and as consultant to both the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches. This cooperative endeavor resulted in the construction and staffing of mass media centers in Hong Kong and Tokyo, production studios in Nigeria, India, Taiwan, Jerusalem, and an international short-wave broadcast facility in Addis Ababa. He personally called on and worked with churches and Christian communities in 63 countries.
Earlier service included pastorates in Waterloo and Marengo, Iowa, and Fairfield, Il.