Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2013, 9:21 am

William Berg

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William Berg
Pastor William E. Berg, at the age of 102, of Minneapolis, Minn., died peacefully surrounded by three generations of his family on Feb. 11, 2013.
Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Normandale Lutheran Church, Edina, Minn. Visitation is an hour prior to the service. Memorials may be made to Community Emergency Services of Minneapolis (www.cesmn.org), Augustana Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, United Christian Ashram (www.christianashram.org), Minnesota Christian Ashram, or Augustana Health Care Center of Minneapolis (www.augustanacare.org).
He was born on May 12, 1910, in Princeton, Ill., of Swedish immigrant parents, John A. and Hanna Swan Berg. He graduated from Augustana College, Rock Island, and when his father, a pastor, died unexpectedly, he took over his parishes for a year and subsequently graduated from Augustana Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained into the Lutheran ministry.
In 1937, he became the pastor of First Lutheran Church in Rock Island. From the start of his ministry he had a passion for people, preaching and evangelism. He was united in marriage to Marta Carlson of Rock Island in 1941. For more than 55 years of marriage, he referred to her as God's special gift of grace.
From 1951 to 1965, he was the director of evangelism for the Augustana Synod of the Lutheran Church headquartered in Minneapolis and also on the national evangelism staff for the Lutheran Church in America in New York City. He returned to Minneapolis as pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church in 1965, where he founded the Crossroad program, which ministered to the spiritual needs of children and families in the inner city of Minneapolis. Continuing his desire to meet the needs of those outside the church walls, he was instrumental in establishing Community Emergency Service in 1971, with the mission statement: Beyond bread to the Bread of Life, beyond ourselves to Jesus Christ. CES continues today to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the neighborhood at its location 1900 11th Ave. S., where his church, Augustana, now is worshiping.
After stepping down as Augustana's pastor in 1980, he continued to be very active in the United Christian Ashram, founded by E. Stanley Jones. He has been the spiritual leader of the Minnesota Christian Ashram for more than 25 years. He is the author of eight books and up to his last week of life he continued his writing, preaching and extensive personal correspondence. His passion for people and sharing the Gospel never wavered, following the example of his mentor, E. Stanley Jones, who said, "I hope that my dying gasp will be, 'I commend my Saviour to you.'"
Pastor Berg is survived by his daughter, Anne Carlson (J Paul); son, Bill (Karen); son-in-law, Paul Conrad and Mary Brainard; grandchildren, Steve Conrad (Emily), Karen Balmer (David), Jon Carlson (Mari), Jeff Carlson (Monica Mesa), Katie Schoeppner (Matt), Will Berg and Ben Berg; great-grandchildren, Theo, Lucy, Simon and Noelle Conrad, Colton and Jackson Balmer, Emery Carlson, Maya and Hannah Carlson, and Beck Schoeppner; sister-in-law, Anne Carlson; nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marta; and a daughter, Marcia Conrad.
Information is available locally from Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, Rock Island.