Paul E. Erickson, Former Lutheran Bishop of Illinois, Dies

4/5/2007 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Paul E. Erickson, a synod bishop
of the former Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and a retired
pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), died
April 3 in Savoy, Ill.  He was 85.
     A memorial service will be held April 14 at Grace Lutheran
Church, Champaign, Ill.
     Born here Jan. 18, 1922, Erickson joined the U.S. Army and
served in the South Pacific during World War II.  He earned a
bachelor of arts degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, and
a master of divinity degree from Chicago Lutheran Theological
Seminary, Maywood, Ill.  The seminary became the Lutheran School
of Theology at Chicago -- one of eight ELCA seminaries.
Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill. -- one of 28 colleges and
universities of the ELCA -- awarded him an honorary doctorate of
     Ordained in 1953 in the former United Lutheran Church in
America (ULCA), Erickson served as pastor of Ridge Lutheran
Church, Chicago.  He was director of Christian education for the
ULCA Illinois Synod from 1957 until 1960, when he became pastor
of First Lutheran Church, Decatur, Ill.  Erickson was an
assistant to the bishop of the LCA Illinois Synod from 1971 to
     In 1975 the LCA Illinois Synod elected Erickson to a four-
year term as its bishop and reelected him in 1979 and 1983.  He
worked with other Christian leaders to help start the ecumenical
Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago.
     Erickson retired in 1987, when the LCA merged with two other
Lutheran churches to form the ELCA.  He moved to Champaign and
remained active in ministry, fishing and following sports at the
University of Illinois.
     "Pastor Erickson and I came from different predecessor
church bodies, but it didn't take long for me to understand the
blessing he had been to the LCA prior to the formation of the
ELCA, and the gifts he brought to this church after 1988," said
the Rev. Warren D. Freiheit, bishop, ELCA Central/Southern
Illinois Synod, Springfield.
     Freiheit became bishop in 2000, and "Pastor Erickson was the
only former bishop I could turn to for advice on serving in this
office," he said.
     "Having come directly from the parish into the office of
bishop was a dramatic change for me, and Pastor Erickson was
gracious in his support and help.  He was continually affirming
of my ministry each time we were together," Freiheit said.
     "In addition to the affirmation I received from Pastor
Erickson, watching him and his wife Jo work together served to
reinforce the way my wife and I have ministered together,"
Freiheit said.
     Erickson is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jo, and their
five adult children: Peter, Mary Jo, Susan, Phillip and Carol.

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