by Helen Brinkman

Being good with numbers has been a blessing for the man believed to be the LCANZ’s longest-serving congregational treasurer, Glen Kraft.

The 74-year-old member of Burnie congregation on the north-west coast of Tasmania has spent the past 50 years as treasurer of his home congregation and is still going strong.

Glen is comfortable sticking with numbers: ‘I’m not one who can go out and witness. God gave me a gift of numbers so I can thank him for that. Doing that, I can give something back to the Lord.’

Glen was only 24 years old, and fresh off the mainland when he became treasurer in May 1973. He had moved to Burnie in 1971 from South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

His first job out of university was working as an industrial chemist in a local paper mill. He said he’d probably stay for four to five years when he was interviewed for the role. Fifty-two years later he’s still here, ‘and I’ll probably die here’, he says.

‘Part of the reason I looked for a job in Tasmania was because I didn’t really like the hot climate in South Australia’, he says.

Growing up in the small Barossa town of Stockwell, Glen didn’t like the big city, so he was quite happy moving to Burnie with its population of about 20,000 people.

And of course, Glen liked the cold! So much in fact that he decided to try snow skiing. While he admits he wasn’t very good to start with, his persistence paid off. By 1979 Glen had his first winter holiday in the ski fields of New Zealand.

‘When it is -5 degrees on a sunny day, it’s lovely’, he says.

Glen has never looked back, skiing at many of the world’s major ski fields until about 20 years ago when he decided the Canadian snow resorts were his favourite – and they became his go-to destination until COVID hit. Aside from his ability to work with numbers, skiing has given Glen another blessing – access to some of the best mountain views in the world.

‘Picture a clear blue day, with such crisp clean air and the sun shining on white snow so it just gleams’, he shares. ‘The snow just hides all the scars in the earth, and for me, that has absolute beauty.’

It reminds Glen of his favourite worship song, Robin Mann’s ‘How shall I call you?’, with the lyrics ‘How shall I call you? Maker of heaven, poet of sunset and painter of sky’ (song number 43 from the All Together Now songbook).

‘When I am standing on the top of mountains and looking down at mountain peaks covered in snow, that song used to buzz around in my mind’, Glen says. ‘Everything is crisp, clean and beautiful – and you think God’s created all this, and he looks down and everything’s perfect.’

Fast forward to 2023, and Glen is hoping to plan his next ski trip to Canada in 2024. ‘That may be the last, as age is catching up with me’, he says.

But Glen is keeping fit as a fiddle for skiing by walking kilometres each day up and down the hills between his home and the Burnie church manse. This is because he’s not only the congregational treasurer but is also looking after the manse while the parish awaits a new pastor.

Oh, and he’s also treasurer of the North Tasmania Lutheran Parish, which includes the congregations of Devonport and Launceston, as well as Burnie. His maintenance and information technology skills have also been put to good use developing the weekly service orders, PowerPoint presentations and service arrangements for the three congregations.

As for his treasurer’s duties, Glen has noticed the changes in the role over the decades.

‘It’s certainly become more complicated over time’, he says. ‘These days you need to do a lot of reporting. Compliance is important.’

While he serves the parish in multiple capacities, Glen believes keeping the congregations functioning well, especially during pastoral vacancy, is a team effort. ‘I am just one of the people helping to keep the church working’, he says.

When it comes to serving, Glen’s advice is to seek God’s guidance: ‘You just need to pray. If people are really motivated to serve, God will lead them to find what suits whatever they can do. ‘There’s lots of little ways they can help. Anyone can push a mower around, as long as you enjoy doing that. God’s given everyone different gifts. Without those little jobs, the church couldn’t exist.’

And the final verse of his go-to Robin Mann’s song reminds us all of God’s faithfulness: ‘How shall I call you? Master and servant, lord of the seasons and lord of the years; faithful and constant in loving and mercy, giver of laughter and taker of tears.’

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