In a day and age where pastors often come and go in just a few years, Victor Berg-Haglund has been a model of consistency.
He was called to serve Saron Lutheran Church in Escalon on Nov. 24, 1985 and began his ministry at the local church on Jan. 15, 1986.
Now, more than 30 years later, he is moving on.
The congregation at Saron Lutheran hosted a special Retirement Celebration for their long-term pastor on Sunday, June 11 with a retrospective program and then a barbecue to mark the occasion. Berg-Haglund will officially retire as of Aug. 1, but Sunday was his last as pastor, taking vacation time prior to retiring.
His installation as pastor for Saron Lutheran occurred on Feb. 18, 1986 and in the ensuing years he has presided over weddings, baptisms, confirmations and funerals. He also has been involved in the community, from serving with the Escalon Ministerial Association to being active in the C.A.R.E., Community Action Resources of Escalon, program and more.
Serving as emcee for the retirement party on Sunday was current Saron Church Council President Steve Rose.
The members of the council when Berg-Haglund was called to serve included president Delores Stahl (Grabow), Phil Adrian, Dale Carlson, Ron Cohagan, Homer Curtis, Judy Jansen, Mary Ann Olson, Carl Vilen and secretary Jeff Grabow.
A video chronicling Berg-Haglund’s years of service was shown, with a commemorative book featuring many of the photos from the video then presented. The Escalon City Council sent a proclamation honoring Berg-Haglund for his service to the church and community and Rose presented him with a $4,500 check from the congregation – the collection taken to help with the purchase of a new computer for Berg-Haglund to use in his retirement.
Members of the council in attendance Sunday that were part of the original group calling Berg-Haglund to serve Saron offered some thoughts. Jeff Grabow quipped that “We’re Lutherans and we eat a lot” so he figured Berg-Haglund had helped to set up 17,281 tables for various banquets and potlucks during his years at Saron.
Mary Ann Olson remembered him as being “friendly, open and eager to serve” the community and Ron Cohagan pointed out that he was “very young, green, unmarried, had no kids we knew of and was affordable.”
Through the years, Berg-Haglund became involved in all facets of life in Escalon, ministering to the community. Among his ‘firsts,’ were the first baptism on March 30, 1986; first wedding on May 3, 1986; first funeral on April 11, 1986; first confirmation class on May 18, 1986 and the first renewal of wedding vows on July 22, 1986.
“He was very sincere, he wanted to serve the Lord,” Olson added. “He has served us well for these last 31 and a half years.”
Able to address the congregation following the special program, an overwhelmed Berg-Haglund kept it short, trying to keep his emotions in check.
“I thank my wife who has supported me all these years with love and encouragement, thanks to you, (the congregation), you’ve loved me, cared for me, encouraged me, forgiven me and we all need that,” Berg-Haglund said. “I’m so grateful I have been your pastor. I am grateful we have each other.”