The Rev. Lynn Ronsberg is being remembered by members of Sharon Lutheran Church for the many qualities she brought to her role as administrative pastor.
Ronsberg, 67, died unexpectedly of natural causes in her home Monday, April 19. A public memorial service is planned for 11 a.m., May 15 at the Alerus Center. A private funeral service for the family is set for Monday, April 26. Streaming will be available at 1 p.m. that day at www.youtube.com/user/trinitymhd/live. A recording of the service will appear the next day on the Amundson Funeral Home website.
“(Ronsberg) loved being a congregational pastor,” said Jeff Larson, executive director of the church. “She loved telling the story of God and Jesus. And she loved letting people know, ‘you are loved; there’s a place for you here.’”
Ronsberg was recognized regionally, too, for her leadership attributes. She was a candidate for the role of bishop for the Northeastern Minnesota Synod and the Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said the Rev. Loren Mellum, interim pastor at Sharon Lutheran.
‘Kind and thoughtful presence’
He cited several qualities that made her such a respected faith leader.
“Pastor Ronsberg is a very kind and thoughtful presence when you meet her personally one on one, but also in a group of people or in a larger setting such as a congregation, so she is very kind and thoughtful in her perspectives,” Mellum said. “She listens well, but also can step into a leadership perspective and offer that to a group of people. She certainly has done that repeatedly here at Sharon Lutheran Church.”
Mellum also praised her abilities in team ministry, working with the staff and lay leaders in a congregation, as well as her communication skills.
“One of her real hallmarks that, as a Lutheran pastor and her perspective in Lutheran theology, she had a real emphasis on the ultimacy of God’s grace, of all people being welcomed and gathered in worship and sent to serve,” he said, “and she had a way of articulating that again and again and again in a way that people could hear and respond to personally.”
At Sharon Lutheran, the graduate of Concordia College and Luther Theological Seminary “was a very steady force and a calming influence,” Larson said. “She knew the direction she wanted to go, and she wanted everyone to be on board. She collaborated with everyone and wanted everyone’s input. We got things done because of that.”
She was a very approachable pastor, who “definitely had the call (to ministry),” Larson said. “She will be dearly missed.”
‘Huge’ Twins fan
Ronsberg also was a “huge Twins fan,” Larson said. “Someone said, you know, the Twins lost probably one of their number one fans,” he said. “She loved the Twins.”
Sue Kerr, church organist, said, “I’d hear her before church discussing the last Twins game with other members of the church. It was kind of her passion.”
Kerr, who has served as organist for 39 years, said, “I have worked with many wonderful pastors over the years, but she stands out as one of the best.”
Ronsberg was “always grateful for her staff and her congregation, and she always remembered to thank us for what we did,” Kerr said. “She was the one who probably was leading us well, but she kind of gave us the credit sometimes -- maybe that type of person, that she did not look for glory herself. She wanted us to all be successful. As I look back, I hope we thanked her enough for what she did for us,” Kerr said.
“She served. She was a servant of God, I would say, and of our church.”
In a very public setting, Ronsberg also officiated at the funeral service for Cody Holte, the Grand Forks police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty in May 2020.
Perhaps in a bittersweet turn of events, on the day Ronsberg died, state legislation was enacted for families of fallen police officers to receive health benefits.
Dave Berger, director of middle school and upper elementary ministries, said Ronsberg “especially looked forward to every service at which someone was going to be baptized.”
“She would always ask, what is best for all of Sharon and for our community?” he said.
Her death has occurred in the church’s season of Easter, Mellum said.
“Pastor Ronsberg loved the season of Easter, and spoke readily of new life in Christ and that death does not have the last word, and really had that Gospel focus for many people in their time of loss. And so it’s something that gives us assurance right now as we mourn her loss.”
Members of the congregation “already are missing her presence, because she was very committed and steady and made herself readily available in many different ways, and so her absence is immediately felt. And, for congregations, I think people are absorbing what that means,” Mellum said.
“So I think people will miss her steady presence that was always counted on on a daily basis. And, for sure, in congregational life, there are moments where she was really looked to to give guidance and that is felt and there will be junctures when that will be felt more.”