Peter Perella, ELCA worship director, dies

2/26/2014 12:00:00 AM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Peter J. L. Perella, 35, director for worship formation and liturgical resources at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) churchwide organization, died Feb. 24 of sinus cancer. The funeral will be held March 2 at 3:00 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Lancaster, Pa.
            In his role, Perella oversaw the ministry of word and sacrament on behalf of the ELCA presiding bishop and directed the work of the churchwide worship team, which includes the development of worship resources and leading conversations about worship renewal in the life of the 4 million-member denomination.
            "He was creative and bright and faithful," said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton. "One of Peter's innovations was to reconfigure the chapel" at the churchwide organization, she said. "Peter wanted us to look at each other through the means of grace. The ambo, the font and the altar are places where Christ, the Word of God, is present. And so, by facing each other and looking through them, Peter helped us to see each other through Christ's eyes. What a beautiful gift."
            Born in Lancaster, Perella earned a Bachelor of Science degree in music education at Millersville University in Millersville, Pa., and a Master of Divinity degree at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He was a candidate for the Master of Sacred Theology degree in liturgy there.
            Prior to becoming ELCA worship director, Perella was pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in New Baltimore, Mich., and vicar at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hershey, Pa. He served on the Advisory Council of the Institute of Liturgical Studies at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., and he was a member of the Consultation on Common Texts and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.
            "Peter's faith was strong, anchored in God's promises in the church's ministry of word and sacrament, which (he) so vibrantly shared with all of us as ELCA director for worship," said the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, executive director, ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission.
            "Heaven receives a blessed beautiful son and the church on earth misses a gifted pastor, leader, musician and friend," said the Rev. F. Eric Wester, assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop and director for ELCA Federal Chaplaincies.
            "Peter was the ELCA worship advisor who guided the team efforts of Augsburg Fortress Publishing and nearly a score of contributors to publish the new 'Prayer Book for the Armed Forces,'" said Wester, adding that, in 2013, Perella led "two joint Lutheran and Episcopal conferences for our clergy in military, Veterans Affairs and federal prison ministry. Peter was the conference chaplain. He planned and led worship, preached, offered pastoral support and care, and contributed to the community life of the gathering. Chaplains who were blessed by Peter's ministry offer our prayers."
            Perella is survived by his parents, Thomas and Margaret Perella; his spouse, Kathryn (Deveney) Perella; and their three children -- Elizabeth, Cecilia and Peter.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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