South Queensland Conference ministerial association director for Education, Pastor Mel Lemke, passed away this past Wednesday (July 27) at the age of 64.
Pastor Lemke had experienced a heart attack a week earlier and was recovering from complications of the necessary medical procedures.
“We sadly, yet with hope and assurance, write this update regarding our Dad, Papa, brother, uncle & son, Mel Lemke,” said his son Blair Lemke, North NSW Conference young adults director, in a Facebook statement. “[On Wednedsday] dad went to rest in Jesus. Our hearts are heavy, but our minds have turned upwards to our Saviour—the one whom dad dedicated his whole life to serve.”
Throughout his life, Pastor Lemke served the Adventist Church in many different roles, starting his ministry in Australia in 1986 as an intern at the Greater Sydney Conference. In the following year, he moved to the Victorian Conference, where he became a full-time minister in 1989.
He then served as a youth director at SQC and Trans-Tasman Union, South Pacific Division (SPD) Adventist Volunteer Service director and Avondale School Chaplain. He had been serving in his current role at SQC for the past four years.
Church leaders from around Australia have sent tributes and paid their respects, remembering his life dedicated to ministry.
In a Facebook post, SPD leader Dr Nick Kross fondly recalled serving the SQC youth department under Pastor Lemke’s leadership. “From the first year , we got on like brothers. He taught me youth ministry leadership, late nights, teen expeditions, youth rallies, Storm Co trips and how to invest in young people. [His] life of ministry will live on as a legacy in the lives of those who were blessed to know [him].”
The SQC ministerial association team also shared a statement about Pastor Lemke’s contribution. “Mel has made a huge impact across many ministry areas and is an inspirational and insightful member of our Ministerial Association advisory.”
“His passion for youth and for seeing people serve is inspiring. His gift for affirmation, his passion for supporting his colleagues and his infectious laugh added so much value to our Ministerial team. We again see how fragile life is and hold onto the hope we have for seeing Mel and hearing his laugh again,” they added.
Other church leaders and friends shared the following memories of him:
“Mel was a significant mentor in my life. He breathed children, youth, mentoring, Harleys, STORMco and chaplaincy. I will miss his huge smile and booming laugh, I will miss his almost prophetic encouragement. I will miss his passion for mission and service to others. So many ministry memories, Hugs and prayers with the Lemke family. Until the trumpets, Mel.”—Pastor Daron Pratt, Wahroonga School chaplain.
“It would be impossible to list all who were important to Mel, because everyone was important to Mel. He could find time for anyone in need and had an amazing way of providing comfort, care and understanding in a non-judgemental way. Mel was born to be a Pastor, and in my experience he excelled.”—Greg Piper, State Member for Lake Macquarie.