Posted Online: March 08, 2013, 3:44 am

Retiring minister finds opportune Ecclesiastes time

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By Claudia Loucks, cjloucks@qconline.com

Photo: Claudia Loucks / correspondent
The Rev. Lou Zuck, who has served in pastoral ministry for the last 40 years, including the last four years at Grace United Methodist Church in Geneseo, plans to retire from active ministry in June. He and his wife, Lynn Zuck, will volunteer at Jensen Woods United Methodist Church Camp in Mt. Sterling this summer.
GENESEO – His retirement letter had an Ecclesiastes ring to it.

"There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth," wrote the Rev. Lou Zuck, pastor at Grace United Methodist Church, referring to Ecclesiastes 3:1, to tell the church family of his retirement plans.

He and his wife, Lynn Zuck, plan to do some mission work later this year.

"June and July will find us at Jensen Woods Camp giving a helping hand and enjoying our fifth-wheel trailer," Rev. Zuck said. He will serve as the camp chaplain in July.

"September will find us at United Methodist Committee on Relief Midwest Distribution Center as inside and outside volunteer coordinators," he added.

Rev. and Mrs. Zuck then plan to move to Florida, where they will continue volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

"We also are considering volunteer work with the Nomads, a United Methodist group with RV's who do volunteer mission work across the United States," he said.

"We know we will be working with youth this summer, and we also know the Lord is opening other opportunities for us, but we don't know where all those paths will lead at this time," he said. "We are taking a step of faith."

Rev. Zuck knew he was being called to the ministry at the age of , but didn't know then that he would develop such a passion for missions.

That passion came from trips to Central America and Africa, he said.

His "greatest mission passion," though, is for Habitat for Humanity.

Rev. Zuck was instrumental in starting a Habitat for Humanity chapter in the East Alton/Wood River area in Illinois.

He was called to serve at Grace Church in Geneseo in summer 2009, just months after he returned from a mission trip to Liberia.

"Our mission project was rebuilding a church in Andersonville, which is in southwestern Liberia," he said. "Our United Methodist Church Conference in Illinois has a covenant relationship with the United Methodist Church Conference in Liberia.
"I am a hands-on person, and I feel like, by working with my hands, I am working with the Lord," he said. "I have a passion in rebuilding."

Rev. Zuck traced his ministry-career passion to a Kids Crusade he attended in his childhood where he heard an evangelist's invitation to accept Jesus into his life.

"From that moment on, I knew I was destined for pastoral ministry," he said. "My grandparents, Mary and Ed Brooks, would set up a service in their living room on Sunday afternoons so I could practice preaching."

Rev. Zuck's home church in LaPorte City, Iowa, also played an important role in nurturing his call to ministry, he said.

His home congregation encouraged and prayed for him, and "gave me opportunities to develop my leadership and preaching skills," he said. "I was granted a local preacher's license when I was 19."

Rev. Zuck grew up in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, but made the transition to the United Methodist Church.

He alsocredits his wife, Lynn, for playing a vital part in his ministry.

"She is very musical, which has been a special blessing," he said.

Mrs. Zuck re-established the hand-bell choir at Grace Church.

As Rev. Zuck reflected on his years of pastoral ministry, he said "These years of ministry have not been dull. God has filled them with challenges and opportunities, joy and sorrow, heartache and happiness, success and failure, and through it all I have learned to trust in the Lord. There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth."

The Rev. Lou Zuck
Birth date: Jan. 29, 1952.
Hometown: LaPorte City, Iowa.
Education: LaPorte High School; bachelor's degree, Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Ind.; master's degree, Anderson, Ind., School of Theology; and Master of Divinity Degree, 1978, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary; ordained in 1979 in Macomb.
Experience: Seven charges in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference -- Adair/New Philadelphia, Good Hope/Jerusalem, Virginia, Cambridge, East Alton, Quincy and Geneseo; also served as a hospital chaplain in Macomb and Alton and as a chaplain in the Illinois National Guard.
Favorite Scripture: Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is your strength."
Favorite Biblical character I'd like to meet: "Apostle Paul."
Hobbies and activities: Golfing, reading, camping, running and yard work.
Peak Experience: "My visit to Liberia in January of 2009. I was inspired by the joy and enthusiasm of the Christians there."
Pit experience: "I don't think about those."
One thing I feel strongly about: "We are called to love the Lord our God and our neighbor as ourselves."