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Old 12-09-2018, 02:23 PM   #1
UntoHim
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Default Jim Reetzke Longtime Elder of the Church in Church in Chicago has passed

Dear saints – our dear brother Jim Reetzke fought the good fight, kept the faith, and finished his course early this morning. After a struggle with cancer for several months, brother Jim went to be with the Lord in peace in his home in Chicago. We all will miss his deep portion of Christ and his faithful stand for the church and the Lord’s recovery, but find solace in the fact that he is relieved from suffering and is with the Lord. According to his family’s desire, there will be a simple memorial at the hall in Chicago this coming week. We will pass along details when they become available.

The brothers in Chicago
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Old 12-09-2018, 04:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: Jim Reetzke Longtime Elder of the Church in Church in Chicago has passe

Jim Reetzke was in the church in Los Angeles in the beginning 1962 in the early building years and experienced the revival that began there in 1969, before migrating to Chicago in 1970 with his wife and son. I knew Jim as an elder when we moved to Chicago in 1974 from Indianapolis where we had migrated in 1972.

Jim Reetzke was one of the original elders in LA, with John Ingalls and Samuel Chang, and helped produce the Public Statement of their standing and purpose among believers in Los Angeles.

Www.lordsrecovery.us/PublicStatement.pdf

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Old 12-09-2018, 06:06 PM   #3
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Default Note from John Myer

I have not seen or spoken to Jim Reetzke since 2005, mostly due to the default estrangement that came from the Chicago-Cleveland split. I would like to remember in the public record the positive effect he had upon me in my earlier years of service in the '80's and 90's. Jim had a strong influence on what I read, which leaned toward brethren writers, respect for scholarship, independent publication, and commemorating the contributions of other Christians. I developed quite a taste for all these as my library reflects, and I learned to refuse man-made limitations on what I was allowed to read, and eventually what I would write and publish. Without the encouragement of his conservative and godly example, I would have found it difficult to move forward. Although his personal views and loyalties might have undergone changes during the Chicago-Cleveland break, as well as his feelings about outspoken brothers such as me, I value what he did. The Lord is wise, and knows how to use the treasures of his sons in his own way and his own time.

Thank you, Jim, for being there.

--John Myer

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Old 12-10-2018, 11:13 AM   #4
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Default Nigel Tomes on the passing of Jim Reetzke

James (“Jim”) Donald Reetzke Sr.

I want to express my appreciation of Jim Reetzke, who passed away Sun. Dec. 9, 2018

I had opportunity to know Jim and his wife, Betty, up-close and personal, during the years 1973-77. At the time I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. I “touched the church” on the US West coast during the Summer of 1972. It was the tail-end of the “Jesus Movement” and the Local Church Movement benefitted from an influx of young people influenced by that movement. Witness Lee’s messages on “Christ vs. Religion” resonated with that generation. Returning to graduate studies in the Fall of 1972, I faced the choice of continuing within the Plymouth Brethren movement in which I was raised and saved, or following the Lord in (what was at the time) the vibrant “church life” of the Local Church.

Jim Reetzke as example & shepherd
In 1970 Jim Reetzke and multiple families had moved from Los Angeles to Chicago in a “migration” (today’s “church plant”) to establish the “Church in Chicago.” Establishing residence in the Irving Park neighborhood on Chicago’s NW side these families opening their homes to accommodate young people in their “brothers’ & “sisters’ houses.” Around the new year of 1972/73 I moved into Jim & Betty Reetzke’s “brothers’ house” on N. Kostner Ave. When I joined there were already 10+ single brothers living in their house. We were helped to establish spiritual disciplines of “morning watch”—both personal & corporate (6:30 AM). We were helped humanly to clean & maintain our personal space; there were weekly “inspections.” When Betty arrived the single brothers learned (via a weekly rotation) how to be the chef’s assistants, to serve the dozen or so people at evening meal and to do the cleanup. Jim & Betty’s standards were high—visitors called their home “the palace brothers’ house,” due to its high standards in décor and practice. Jim Reetzke was a teacher and shepherd; together with his wife, many younger brothers learned basic spiritual practices and also made up whatever was lacking in life-skills for human living. The personal cost to Jim & Betty of opening their home 24/7 to young Christians of the next generation was huge. I personally benefitted greatly from the 4 years I lived under their roof & under their care.

When I got married in Jan. 1977, my parents were unable to travel from the UK; Jim & Betty Reetzke graciously attended the marriage ceremony as my “surrogate parents.”

Jim Reetzke & the “Lord’s Recovery” in N. America
Jim & Betty Reetzke were among the very first “typical Americans” (a euphemism for Caucasian) to join the Local Church movement in the US. If I recall correctly the history recounted around the Reetzke’s table, Jim & Betty were members of the Westmorland Chapel congregation associated with Austin-Sparks. John Ingalls was also a member. Brother Chang (W. Nee’s brother-in-law & W. Lee’s associate) arrived as a forerunner of “the Recovery.” Witness Lee followed and these three –John Ingalls, Jim & Betty Reetzke—formed the nucleus of what would become the “Church in LA.” Hence Jim Reetzke’s passing marks the end of an era; now the original “founding brothers”—John Ingalls and Jim Reetzke—are all gone.

Jim Reetzke as Church Leader
Jim Reetzke came to Chicago as a church elder, personally appointed by Witness Lee, to lead the church. When I arrived the three Chicago elders were—Jim Reetzke, John Ulicki & John Little (brother of Bob Little). He led the church there with a steady hand for many decades, through a number of “storms.” For years after the 1977 “Max storm” which erupted in Chicago, Titus Chu often commended Jim Reetzke for his stand. While conference meetings were conducted in public, the real drama was happening behind closed doors in “leading brothers’ meetings.” According to Titus’ oft-repeated accounts, Max and his supporters sought to remove the Chicago church’s elders, leaving Chicago’s young people vulnerable to be recruited by other regions. Reportedly the elders were told (encouraged?) to resign their eldership & relocate to the West coast; John Ulicki moved there soon after. But Jim Reetzke (reportedly) responded “I was sent here by the Lord; whether I am an elder or not, I will remain” (or words to that effect). A delegation from Orange County churches arrived in Chicago the next weekend to “claim the spoils;” I recall being told I was assigned to a certain West coast church. This delegation departed Chicago in haste when word got out photos had reached W. Lee of “fleshly activities” orchestrated in SF the prior weekend. During that volatile time, Jim Reetzke remained in Chicago as a rock of stability, as an elder in maturity, if not in title. The “replacement elders” soon resigned &/or departed, and the former eldership—including Bill Barker—restored. Jim Reetzke’s stand during that incident, and over the wider period, provided needed stability to the Chicago church.

Jim Reetzke as scholar & teacher
By disposition, training and gift Jim Reetzke was, above all, a teacher and scholar. As a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Jim was equipped in the Biblical languages, theology & Church history; he could exegete the New Testament based on the original Greek. Such training was rare in the Local Churches; during the 1970s students at Bible College & Seminary were encouraged to quit “dead Christianity,” and join the Local Church movement. (When I arrived in Chicago around 4-6 students had recently quit Moody Bible Institute to join the Church in Chicago.)

Jim’s study was lined wall-to-wall with the books that comprised his personal Christian library. In the mid-1980s a crop of younger brothers & sisters answered the call for full-time service within the Great Lakes Area (GLA) local churches. Jim Reetzke employed his significant skills to teach them the rudiments of NT Greek, Church history, Christian biographies, the history of the English Bible, and other topics. Prior to the institutionalization of the FTT and away from the gravitational pull of Anaheim CA, the GLA churches conducted informal “10-month Labors,” with Titus Chu and Jim Reetzke. This author & many others gained invaluable lessons & unforgettable experiences during those years. Jim Reetzke taught a whole range of topics, equipping the next generation of GLA full-time workers. Moreover, he stood ready to gently correct their faulty exegesis and divert them from nascent heresy, as they presented messages to one another, during the early years of their learning process. For this, I and other beneficiaries are profoundly grateful.

One Caveat
Perhaps I can be allowed one final observation. From where I stand today, I regret that brother Jim did not apply the pattern of Martin Luther. From Jim Reetzke we learned that Luther stood uncompromisingly upon the Word of God. He famously declared, “Here I stand and can do no other…” For Luther, the Bible trumped all church traditions and teachings of man. According to my observation, among scholars in “the Lord’s Recovery,” Witness Lee’s teaching (the so-called “interpreted word”) is privileged above the inspired Word of God. The irony of LSM’s publication “Affirmation & Critique” is that Witness Lee’s teachings are only affirmed and never critiqued. It seems to me that this same asymmetry also characterized Jim Reetzke’s teaching. If some biblical topic had not been addressed, Jim Reetzke gave a balanced and multi-faceted exposition and evaluation. Once Witness Lee gave his definitive teaching on the topic, Jim Reetzke’s teachings and writings only affirmed that view. Personally, I regret that allegiance to Witness Lee trumped the balance that sound biblical scholarship could have offered. Nevertheless, this one caveat does not overshadow my appreciation of our brother, Jim Reetzke.

Nigel Tomes,
Toronto, CANADA

December, 2018

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Old 12-10-2018, 12:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Jim Reetzke Longtime Elder of the Church in Church in Chicago has passe

Special thanks to John Myer and Nigel Tomes for adding informative and valuable contribution to this thread.

In reading their postings here I wonder what "The Recovery" in America could have become if Witness Lee would have only allowed for brothers like Jim Reetzke to have a greater roll in ministry and leadership in and among the Local Churches in North America. My 40+ years of personal experience and observation makes me think the very same thing about John Ingalls and a number of other brothers throughout the years.

Being "born and raised" (since late teens) in the Local Churches of Orange County CA area, the idea of a brother(s) ministering and teaching anything other than the personal ministry of Witness Lee was basically anathema. I've always been a little jealous of some of the GLA/Canadian brothers and their relative independence from Anaheim. Of course the Lord used this to release so many dear ones to follow the Him into a healthier realm of ministry and fellowship with other members of the Body of Christ. Our brothers Nigel Tomes and John Myer paid a heavy price to take the lead "outside the camp", but the Lord has surely honored their sacrifices and boldness - and many brothers and sisters have reaped the fruit of their sacrifice. Praise Him who has released us all, and given us all the right to be children of God!
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Old 12-11-2018, 05:48 AM   #6
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Default Re: Jim Reetzke Longtime Elder of the Church in Church in Chicago has passe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Indiana View Post
Jim Reetzke was one of the original elders in LA, with John Ingalls and Samuel Chang, and helped produce the Public Statement of their standing and purpose among believers in Los Angeles.
I found this "ancient" mission statement made by Jim Reetzke et.al. quite interesting. This is perhaps the earliest writing of the LCM in the US, at the first LC in Los Angeles. It encapsulates both their "vision" and their source of blessing. This statement carefully matches W. Nee's earliest thoughts, recorded in his book Normal Christian Church Life which had caught the attention of all the LC "Founding Fathers." Note that this was written before Witness Lee had established his credentials as "Minister of the Age."
Quote:
A PUBLIC STATEMENT
made on May 19, 1963

As we realized the need of a proper expression of the Body of Christ, we started to meet together to fulfill this purpose in the Spring of 1962. For an enlarged realization of our vision of the oneness of Christ’s Body, more of us came to meet together on the Church ground in Los Angeles in the beginning of March, 1963. We do not intend to be any kind of new “movement,” but to practice the unity of the Spirit, a unity with variety, and the variety versus uniformity, in the way of a local church.

We are not centered around certain truths, but make Christ, the all-inclusive Head, Himself to be life and everything to us. We are willing and ready to take in all the good, sound, scriptural, and spiritual things which the Lord has given through all generations and is still giving today to His Body through whatever channel of different types of His saints; but we would not practice them in the improper way taken by certain groups, nor would we identify ourselves with any denomination, sect, or any sort of Christian movement. We are not exclusive. We receive all of God’s children as fellow-members of Christ’s Body, regardless of their Christian background; however, we have no organizational connections with any of their particular associations, works, activities, etc.

May the Lord’s way be prosperous among His people in His increase that His testimony through the local expressions of His Church may be established and strengthened throughout the whole world in these last days to the full extent of His recovery in the building up of His Body to the measure of the stature of His fullness by more and more brothers and sisters being brought into the stream of His life in the fellowship of the Spirit while He is moving on toward His coming back by having a remnant as a response to His call for the fulfilling of God’s eternal purpose.

The Responsible Brothers of the Church in Los Angeles,
Jim Reetzke, John Ingalls, Samuel Chang
(brother-in-law of W. Nee)
It is well nigh impossible to relate anything of this original mission statement to current ideals in the LC Movement.
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Last edited by Ohio; 12-11-2018 at 10:58 AM.
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