A Life of Service - Roger Fredrikson

Posted by Janae Melvin on September 6, 2016 in "Fredrikson Chapel", "Ottawa University", "Roger Fredrikson" Roger-16-(3).jpg

Rev. Dr. Roger Fredrikson ’42 was a gift from God. He was a man who was led by the Holy Spirit in all he did, whose actions and words were known to have a lasting impact on anyone he encountered. His was a life of service and faith and abundant in spiritual gifts. 
 
On June 16, Fredrikson left his earthly home for the eternal home he so often preached about. He had spent a short time in hospice before his passing at age 95, but as much as a year and a half ago he knew God would be calling him home soon. In fact, it was during that time that he prepared his own order of service for his funeral, a spiritual affair that would last nearly an hour and a half. It was full of family, music and memories of a man who leaves behind a legacy that may never be matched.
 
“Ottawa University has lost a wonderful friend,” said Kevin Eichner, OU president. “Roger loved Ottawa University and everything it stood for. He was unfailingly kind, energetic and committed to the Lord, and brought many to experience His love and grace.  In fact, if there was just one phrase to epitomize Roger’s life, it would be ‘filled with grace’.  A good and faithful servant, he will be forever remembered through our hearts and physically, with the Fredrikson Chapel, named in his and beloved Ruth’s honor. We will miss him terribly, but for many, he will remain an inspiration.”
 
Fredrikson’s ministry took him across the country. He appeared on television, authored books, participated in countless roundtables and panel discussions, and presented at American Baptist Churches USA conferences and conventions. He took part in ecumenical conversations with faith leaders of all denominations. Friends and strangers alike were greeted with a hug and a blessing, usually in the form of a kiss.
 
The impact he had on Ottawa University can be seen and felt across campus, most notably when one looks to the chapel. The Fredrikson Chapel. He, along with his late wife Ruth ’45, were the spiritual mentors and leaders for the faculty, staff and students at OU for more than 50 years. In 1977, he held the first Adventures in Faith program, an annual three-day event for alumni and friends to share how they exercise their faith in their vocation. Adventures in Faith continues today and is the cornerstone of the comprehensive spiritual programming that is offered through the Fredrikson Center of Faith and Church Vitality. It was important to Fredrikson that the University live out the component of its mission statement, one he helped craft in 2000, of being a Christ-centered community of grace.
 
Fredrikson also assisted the University in a myriad of additional ways. In the 1970s, he took over University affairs and administration of OU during a difficult time of leadership transition. He served in many positions as a member of the board of trustees, including chair, and was a life trustee member.
 
“When we review the trajectory of his life, it is clear that he was blessed with a multitude of gifts. In his ninety-five years he was a youth minister, preacher, pastor, educator, counselor, advisor, published author, administrator, fundraiser, and, lest we forget, husband, father and grandfather,” said Rev. Dr. John Holzhüter, OU chaplain. “More than likely that list is incomplete, but the number of spiritual gifts given to him by the Holy Spirit is less important than the manner in which he followed the wisdom of the apostle Paul. He earnestly used his gifts for the common good by serving God and neighbor and this thread is woven throughout his journey - service - with the care, concern and commitment that transformed lives.”
 
His love for the Lord led him to serve people in all areas of their lives. Whether facing the highs or the lows, their brightest day or their darkest hour, Fredrikson was always the first to reach out and comfort, console, counsel, and lift up. He actively ministered to those in the juvenile detention center in Minnehaha County in South Dakota. He helped found Glory House, a halfway house initiative for men leaving prison. He served those who were suffering from mental health issues or struggling with addiction. He saw Christ in everyone he met and knew he was being called to show others the kind of love that can only come from having a deep, personal relationship with God. 
 
After he graduated from OU in 1942, he pursued seminary studies at Andover-Newton Theological Seminary in Massachusetts where he received his Bachelor of Divinity degree. He was ordained on May 15, 1948 and returned to OU to oversee the Department of Religion and Philosophy from 1949-1954. He left his full-time position at OU to become pastor at First Baptist Church in Ottawa until 1959 when he went to Sioux Falls, SD, and served as pastor of the First Baptist Church for 16 years. His involvement with ABCUSA included serving as President and Vice President in addition to other roles on the board.
 
There’s no doubt that Fredrikson changed many lives during his time on earth. Ninety-five years allows for a life well lived, and he certainly lived his life to the fullest, but Fredrikson’s time with us was ultimately brief as he was called home to continue his service to God.
 
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit…
1 Corinthians 12:4-9 (NSRV)