Time to leave his Fredonia flock

The Rev. Robert Zick, who came to the area 30 years ago not knowing a soul, is retiring as pastor of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church and bidding farewell to the friends he made

STANDING IN THE familiar confines of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fredonia was the Rev. Robert Zick, who is retiring this month as the longtime pastor of the church. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

After serving as pastor of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fredonia for 30 years, the Rev. Robert Zick will retire at the end of the month.

When he was growing up, he considered becoming a doctor or a commercial airline pilot, but he felt the call to serve as a leader of faith when questioned by his pastor before his confirmation.

“I remember telling my mother, and she said pastors don’t make any money,” Zick said with a smile. “My parents always supported me in my endeavors and were proud their son became a pastor.

“I remember listening to the pastor’s sermons and thinking to myself how I could put the message in my own words or give it a different slant.”

The 65-year-old grew up in Milwaukee and attended Milwaukee Lutheran High School, where he met his wife Liz. She is one of the organists at the church.

“She plays and I preach,” Zick said.

He credits his wife for taking care of their family of five children as he was serving his congregation of more than 200 people.

“It’s not easy being the pastor’s wife because there were a lot of sacrifices she had to make,” he said. “My job doesn’t go from 9 to 5, and there were many evenings I was away.”

Before joining the congregation in 1987, Zick was a missionary-at-large for eight years in Monroe and established Resurrection Lutheran Church.

“When I was called to St. John’s, I didn’t know anyone in Fredonia,” he said. “It was a major sacrifice for my family to uproot themselves from the community in Monroe.”

He said over the years he noticed steady growth in the church, even though attendance for Sunday services has declined. He credits the congregation’s day care with attracting younger families to the church.

“The day care started out as a circle of kids in the church. In 2002, we built the day care next door, and we have more than 100 students and 20 employees,” he said.

Zick’s last Sunday service will be held on June 24. He will be replaced by the Rev. Marshal Frisque.

“I’ve been here for 30 years and felt it was a good point in time for the congregation to have a fresh voice,” he said. “Like many church bodies, (Evangelical Lutherans) are beginning to have a shortage of pastors and I felt it would be helpful for us to begin that transition before it got worse.”

He said he will move from the congregation’s parsonage to Sheboygan.

In retirement, he plans to go fishing and spend time with his 12 grandchildren. He also wants to help stand-in for pastoral duties in Sheboygan when needed.

Zick said he noticed Fredonia change  over the years from being a close-knit blue-collar community to a bedroom community because more residents have to work farther away from home. 

He said while the culture in the area is changing, he is confident St. John’s will be a consistent source of faith for his parishioners.

Over the years, he said he has met a number of people through church services and programs, and hopes to remain in touch with his parishioners.

“One of the hardest things is going to be saying goodbye to all of these people,” Zick said. “We’re a family united with the faith of God, and that is something that can never be broken.”

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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