The Rev. C. Thomas Spitz Jr., D.D.
C. Thomas Spitz, who in 1978 authored A Call for Lutheran Union, which was adopted by the three church bodies addressed by it and culminated in their merger in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, died on Nov. 2, 2007 at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. Born on May 26, 1921, he was 86 years old.
Dr. Spitz was selected in 1965 as the first general secretary of the Lutheran Council in the USA. The council existed to coordinate significant program activities of the member churches, including those of ecumenical dialogue, and he took a particular interest and role in pursuing Lutheran-Episcopal, Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran-Roman Catholic meetings. As general secretary, he also represented the council and its participants before committees of the Congress and offices of the federal government.
He left the Lutheran Council in 1974 to work openly and aggressively on Lutheran merger concerns and served as a charter member of the Committee on Lutheran Unity. In 1977, he was appointed to the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches. This commission seeks to address major theological and ecumenical questions in the life of member churches. Dr. Spitz served as vice-chairman of the commission for four years.
From 1953 to 1965 he was director of broadcasting for the Lutheran Layman's League and supervised the activity of 24 branch offices and 40 production facilities in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia an the Americas. He worked closely with various churches in 63 countries, served as a consultant to the Lutheran World Federation Broadcasting Service, and was a supporter of the establishment of media centers in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, Addis Ababa and Nigeria.
Dr. Spitz was a parish pastor in Iowa, Illinois and New York. A 1944 graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, he was subsequently the recipient of five honorary degrees.
In recent years of semi-retirement, he worked as a management consultant to businesses and organizations, specializing in the area of human resources.
He was married for 38 years to the former Dorothy Gross, who died in 1982. He remarried, Karen Ankener Lucas, who survives him. Their home has been in Port Washington. Other survivors include: sons, C. Thomas III (Mary) of Herndon, VA, and Garrett Richard (Kristen) of Williamsburg, VA; a daughter Gretchen Ann Bourbon of Jewell, KS; stepchildren, Nicole (Boris) Renault of New York and Whitney Lucas (Amanda) of Maine; a brother Donald A. of Idaho Falls; and two grandchildren, Rebecca Spitz of Virginia and Jasmine Lucas of Maine.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Dr. Spitz's memory be made to The Children's Health for the Port Washington School-Community Program to develop a Medical Mobile Unit for the provision of psychological services for Gulf Coast children and their families yet affected by Hurricane Katrina. Checks should be made payable to The Children's Health and mailed to Elaine Ajello, Principal, John J. Daly Elementary School, 36 Rockwood Rd., Port Washington, NY 11050.
A memorial service will be held on Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, Port Washington, with The Rev. Dr. Stephen Paul Bouman, Bishop, Homilist, and The Rev. Mr. Robert G. Wollenburg, Presiding Minister.