The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Santa' comes to church

He gives all year long in caring for young and old

A little boy was sitting with his grandmother in a pew at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Ocean Isle Beach, S.C., when he turned around and exclaimed, “Grandma, Santa Claus comes to our church!”

He was staring at Frederick Simmel, a smiling man with a snow-white, flowing beard who has played Santa for the last 15 years, visiting nursery schools and retirement homes.

Though Simmel is a retired ELCA pastor, he said clergy never really retire as long as they can keep helping. Being Santa is the least of his activities. For the last few years he has worked with Comfort Keepers, a national organization that provides companionship and services for those in need. For his work, Simmel was named Comfort Keepers Caregiver of the Year.

“As a pastor I realized my strong suit has been visiting people, spending time with them, listening to them and caring for them,” he said. “I read about Comfort Keepers in the newspaper, went to see them, and they hired me.”

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March issue

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