When the couple arrived at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in McHenry in 1969, the church counted fewer than 300 members. When Roger and Rosemary retired in 2016, the flock numbered more than 3,000 members. Over the years, Roger guided the congregation through four building projects and developed an endowment fund, gathering nearly $2 million for scholarships to students attending Lutheran schools and to assist those in need. As one of the church’s organists for 20 years, Rosemary and her love of music were literally instrumental in the church. She planned and organized special services each year and directed multiple music groups in the congregation.
Shepherd of the Hills has been among the 100 fastest-growing Lutheran churches, with hundreds of lay people participating in programs and service, and 500 children in Sunday school. Roger has baptized nearly 4,000 people, performed more than 2,000 weddings, and conducted more than 2,000 funerals, with Rosemary adding music to many of those services, both of them tending to the congregation in all stages of life.
The numbers are astounding. “But what is most unique and significant about the work they have done — Roger as pastor and Rosemary in church music — is that they have done it together,” said their friend, retired Rev. Dennis Dickman ’59. “Theirs has truly been a team ministry. When a pastor and spouse so live and serve, it has a tremendous influence upon everyone.”
The couple have invested their energy in the next generation, too. Roger developed an internship program for future pastors, training 17 interns. Rosemary taught junior high vocal music for 16 years. Shepherd of the Hills developed a program that matched positive mentors with young people who needed guidance, which eventually evolved into Big Brothers Big Sisters for McHenry County. To honor the Schneiders’ involvement in the community after their retirement, the mayor gave them a key to the city, and a local street was named after the couple.
“The bottom line in the ministry for me has always been to meet people where they are at in their lives and help them to grow,” Roger said. He and Rosemary have faithfully done just that and turned a flock into family at Shepherd of the Hills.
For their longtime leadership and service with their congregation and community as an ever-living expression of their faith, the Wartburg College Alumni Board presents this Alumni Citation to the Rev. Roger and Rosemary Schneider.