Our Prayers Are With the Unke Family

Today (Saturday, July 30), in wisdom far beyond our own, and in boundless love for us in Christ that is also at times hard for us to fully understand, God has seen fit to call to himself in heaven the soul of our brother, Jim Unke.

After the stroke Jim suffered on Friday, July 15, it became clear, as last week drew to a close,  that the fatal brain injury the stroke caused would mean that God would soon be calling his faithful servant home to himself in heaven.

We will be sure to pass on information about Jim’s funeral service as soon as that is shared with us.

You may recall that just this April, Jim was among those on our campus who thanked God for completing a significant ministry milestone as he celebrated 40 years of public gospel ministry:

  • 1 year as an emergency instructor at East Fork Lutheran High School, Whiteriver, AZ (1980-1981);
  • 4 years as 8th grade teacher and athletic director at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in New Ulm, MN (1983-1987);
  • 10 years as athletic director at Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills, WI (1987-1997); and
  • 25 years as director of athletics at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN (1997-2022).

The seal of MLC where Jim served so faithfully for 25 years has the Latin word vivit (“he lives”) inscribed around the outside.  Vivit is a reminder that, in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we have the certainty that God has declared us not-guilty and that because Jesus lives, we too shall live (John 14:25).

On this day, Jim has begun to experience in a whole new glorious way that truth on our MLC seal under which he served for 25 years, Yes, even on this day of Jim’s death, this is true: Vivit!  

Please remember to keep in your prayers Jim’s wife Lori, their children, grandchildren, and the rest of their extended families, as they mourn the earthly loss of a faithful and loving husband, father, and grandfather.   Please keep our college of ministry in your prayers as our campus family feels the earthly loss of a friend, a co-worker, and a brother in Christ.

But, in Christ, while we do indeed grieve, we do not grieve without hope as the unbelieving world does (1 Thessalonians 4:13).  We grieve in hope.  Why?  Vivit!

In Him,

Rich Gurgel
President, Martin Luther College