Rev. Dr. William Melvin Bliese died peacefully in his favorite chair on Sunday, September 26, 2021, at his home in Bozeman, Montana after, on that morning, preaching his last sermon. He was 92 years old.
Born on January 28, 1929, Bill grew up in Rockford, Illinois, together with his older sister, Lorraine. His parents, Olive (Weir) and Karl, lived most of their lives in Rockford with brief stays in Belvidere, Illinois (losing their house in Rockford in the depression) and Wisconsin (for NCR business).
Baptized at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Rockford, Bill was confirmed (April 18, 1943) and married (July 13, 1952) in the same congregation. Following the recommendation of his pastor, Rev. Kinneger, he decided to become a minister. In preparation for the ministry with the Lutheran Church-Missouri-Synod, Bill attended prep-school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin starting at ninth grade before entering Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Many years later, Bill earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, writing his dissertation on Church Growth techniques.
Bill married Shirley May Oberg after eight years of dating. They had four boys, Karl, Rick, John, and Jim. Rev. Bliese served several congregations over 60 years of pastoral ministry. After serving an internship in Buffalo, New York (where Karl was born on the Peace Bridge on the way to the nearest hospital in Canada) and after completing a one-year first call as an institutional chaplain in Cleveland, Ohio, Bill led a series of congregations including:
- St. John’s Lutheran Church in Blenheim, Maryland
- Trinity Lutheran Church in Norfolk, Virginia
- Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Dayton, Ohio
The two most formative events which shaped Bill’s ministries came through the discovery of Evangelism Explosion, a program to share the gospel in people’s homes, and his involvement with the charismatic movement. Bill retired from ministry in Dayton and briefly started a financial services business. After a few years as a financial consultant, Bill returned to the ministry serving many congregations in Ohio and Montana in various interim capacities. The final two congregations that Rev. Bliese assisted were First Lutheran in Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley Lutheran Fellowship. What captivated his imagination during all these years was the possibility of developing a Christian retreat center in Montana that could serve as an evangelism tool in telling the biblical story of redemption to the whole community and country. “Kingdom of God Ministries” was created as a non-profit vehicle to explore and implement this vision.
Bill Bliese is survived by three of his sons and their spouses, Karl (Nancy), Rick (Nina), and John (Melody), and a total of eight grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
A Memorial Service will be held at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday, November 13 at First Lutheran Church in Bozeman.
Memorials may be made to Kingdom of God Ministries, 38 Swiftwater Dr., Bozeman, MT 59715.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com [dokkennelson.com]