Remembering Pastor Ralph Hofrenning

zion lutheranIf you attended Zion Lutheran Church of Viking in the seventies then you know Pastor Ralph Hofrenning. He was a great man and lead people according to the word of God-I can’t think of anything better for a head stone. Pastor Hofrenning died last week.
ralph hofrenning
I am fortunate to have been given a religious education derived directly from the Bible. Some people say the Bible changes through generations which only seems to raise the bar for what is considered sin. Pastor Hofrenning preached the Bible in a rich, deep voice that left no room for despair. I was too young to question anything when he was our pastor however I am sure he would have welcomed questions or even doubt. Questioning and doubt are the breaks in spiritual bone that are left stronger after they heal.

Pastor Hofrenning went to war in 1942. He worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps and graduated from Concordia College then Luther Seminary.

Bockman Hall-Luther Seminary.
Bockman Hall-Luther Seminary.
He missioned in India and wrote several books including a translation of Norwegian Hymns to English. You can read his obituary at

I think it would be hard to describe a man without something about his wife. Judith is Pastor Hofrenning’s widow. Mrs Hofrenning was a stern woman and my former piano teacher. I would describe her as more of a “first lady” in the traditional sense of the word for Pastor Hofrenning. She was demanding of me as a teacher but also gave praise and was compassionate. I was so frustrated once with a musical piece that I broke down and cried. She just sat with me on the bench and waited until I was done. She then spoke a few kind words to me and we got back to practice. Mrs Hofrenning is a good woman and must have been a supportive partner to her husband.

My piano instruction happened during the noon hour so I often sat at the parsonage kitchen table and spoke with Pastor Hofrenning. He liked the Minnesota Vikings football team-a lot. I was a huge fan as a kid and so we shared the wheelhouse when it came to talking football. As I recall, he usually had soup at noon.

Ralph Hofrenning’s father was Pastor Bernt Hofrenning who served at the Pine Creek/Ross parish. My cousin Sheila Winstead recently posted about Pastor Bernt Hofrenning’s book which he’d written about Captain Jens Munk’s explorations during the 1600’s.hofrenning book Pastor Ralph Hofrenning presided at the planting of a blue spruce at Concordia College which was a descendant of the seedlings Captain Jens Munk had brought with him from Copenhagen. In 1959, seedlings from that Concordia tree were sent out to various churches through out North Dakota and Northern Minnesota.

1976 Zion Lutheran Confirmation Class. Pastor Hofrenning is centered in the top row. My brother Darrel, is in the top row, far left.
1976 Zion Lutheran Confirmation Class. Pastor Hofrenning is centered in the top row. My brother Darrel, is in the top row, far left.

(You can see many confirmation classes at vikingmn.comViking, Minnesota home page)
Zion Lutheran 1974 confirmation class.
Zion Lutheran 1974 confirmation class.

I never have an answer when someone asks who would I like to meet in person. The truth is, deciding on a hero to meet would be more a personal matter than one based on the person’s fame. I guess Pastor Hofrenning would be someone like that but I honestly didn’t know he was even still alive.

I was at a loss for inspiration for today’s column. I thought about what I really care about and the passing of Pastor Hofrenning immediately came to mind. He provided inspiration to me in life as he has now done in death. God bless his memory.
Pastor Hofrenning’s obituary can be found here; Pastor Ralph Hofrenning

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