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Remembering Rick Herbert Otto Pribbernow

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Photo courtesy of Lakeridge Lutheran Church
Photo courtesy of Lakeridge Lutheran Church

Pastor Rick Herbert Otto Pribbernow passed away suddenly in August, with his partner Bob Van Burkleo by his side.

Rick was raised by his parents, Hap and Zelma, in California, starting a lifetime of service to anyone that he found in need. For the last 28 years he served as the chaplain and director of the ELCA Lutheran NW Washington Synod's Open Door Ministries. The ODM was established in the early 1990s to "bring the compassion of Christ and his Church to persons affected by HIV/AIDS; reach out to those who have felt excluded and condemned by church and society because of their sexual orientation; and encourage and support the Church and its members as they address the issues of human sexuality and biblical interpretation."

Over his decades-long tenure, these purposes evolved to include others in need, whether it was illness, imprisonment, housing insecurity, or financial crisis. Rick established relationships with other supportive organizations and helped in their common mission of service, including all members of the LGBTQ+ community, their loved ones, and allies, through end-of-life support, weddings, commitment ceremonies, and memorial services. He helped many Lutheran churches to become inclusive and accepting of all.

Rick also reached out to other religious denominations, since ODM's purpose was to spread the message of God's love to all people of any sexual orientation, no matter what particular place that might lead them.

Though most will recognize him from the ODM participation in the annual Pride parade, his greatest passion was finding and reaching those who had been rejected for their sexuality by their faith communities and felt spiritually adrift. He assured them that God's love was inclusive, regardless of what others might have told them.

When out in the community, he was always there as "Pastor Rick," with his ever-present sweater vest, looking for those who needed to hear that God loved them, always had, and always will. Even during the pandemic, he found those who wanted to talk about faith, going in the winter cold with a warm blanket and warm heart as often as needed.

There will be a church memorial service for him on Sunday, November 7, at 2 pm Pacific, which will be accessible via Zoom at https://www.svlccommunity.org/PastorRick/.

There will also be a community celebration of his life at C.C. Attles, Saturday, November 13, with the pre-celebration starting at 3 p.m .and the celebration at 4 p.m. (details at https://www.fb.me/e/1buo9DxjU) The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of the Abby of St. Joan will canonize Pastor Rick at this time.

In lieu of flowers, it is asked that a donation be made to the national organization Reconciling Works: https://www.reconcilingworks.org/donate/.