Pastor James A. Pingel

October 31, 1939 ~ November 19, 2021 (age 82)


Rev. Dr. James A. Pingel of Sun Prairie, WI, retired pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Sun Prairie, joined the church triumphant, Friday, November 19, 2021.  He was born in Shawano, WI, on Reformation Day, October 31, 1939, to Clarence and Hildegarde Pingel.  He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Alva Lea, four children, James II (Michelle), Lea Anne Murray (William), David (Kathryn), Mark (Jennifer), and twelve grandchildren, Josh, Josie, Ally, Calvin, Stuart, Jackson, Dylan, Cora, Harrison, Stella, Alex, and Isaac. He is further survived by his brothers Rev. Dennis (Cindy), Rev. Richard (Dianne),  Rev. Allen, and brothers-in-law Rev. Darvin (Anne) Herman and Rev. Luther (Monica) Herman.  He was preceded in death by his parents.

Pastor Jim found great joy in serving His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in full-time ministry.  He also truly loved spending time with his wife, Alva Lea, traveling extensively, and being with his children and grandchildren, cheering them on in sports, music, and academics.  He truly believed that relationships are more important than activities and witnessed to all he met about the Savior's love for them.

Jim graduated from Concordia Junior College in Milwaukee, WI; earned a BA at Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, IN, and an MDIV at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO.  Ordained in 1965 at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Manitowoc, WI, he earned the Doctor of Ministry degree from Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, Tacoma, Washington, in 1987. 

Pastor Jim's first call was missionary-at-large to Madison, Ohio where he established Holy Cross Lutheran Church and served as its first pastor.  In 1968, he accepted the call to St. John's Lutheran Church and School in Edgerton, Wisconsin.  There he inaugurated the Bethel Bible Series and a daily telephone ministry called Dial 4-HOPE.  In 1970, he was named an Outstanding Young Man of America.

In 1972, he was called to Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Over the 32 years he served there, the Lord worked through him to lead the congregation from a mission congregation of 175 members to a self-supporting congregation of over 700.  He was the first to begin broadcasting church services on KIDS 4 TV and set up Wednesday night as "church night" in connection with the local schools. During his tenure, the church went through three different building programs: additional classrooms, a new 450-seat sanctuary; and a Discipleship Center, doubling the church building size.

Pastor Jim actively recruited at least a dozen young people for the pastoral and teaching ministry of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.  He and his wife Alva Lea established three separate Endowment Funds--one at Concordia University, Mequon, WI, one at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, and one at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Sun Prairie.     

Pastor Jim served in various leadership positions in two districts-- the Ohio District and the South Wisconsin District. He has given lectures on Marriage and the Family at local high schools, conducted Parent Effectiveness Training classes, and served as Zone and District Pastoral Advisor of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League.

Active in community affairs as well, Jim was a member of the Sun Prairie Exchange Club (he made the motion for the Exchange Club to "give every kid a flag to wave" at the Flags of Freedom parade) and was in Leadership Class VI for Sun Prairie. He served on the Board of Directors for KIDS 4 TV, the YMCA, and Oakwood Village East. He enjoyed coaching flag football, baseball, and basketball.

After his retirement in 2005, he frequently served at Mount Olive Lutheran Church during their vacancy and served as guest pastor for many congregations in the South Wisconsin District.  He continued to teach Bible studies as well.

Visitation will be at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 300 Broadway Drive, Sun Prairie on November 22, 2021 from 9:00 AM until the 11:30 AM funeral service, with Pastor Charlie Brandt officiating.  Friends and family are welcome to meet at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at Sun Prairie Memory Gardens, 1147 Clarmar Drive, Sun Prairie where Jim will be brought to his final place of rest.

Memorials are suggested for the James A. Pingel Family Endowment at Concordia University, Mequon, WI, or to the endowment fund at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Sun Prairie.

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."  Philippians 1:21.

To send flowers to Pastor James A. Pingel's family, please visit our floral store.


November 22, 2021

9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
300 Broadway Drive
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin 53590

Funeral Service
November 22, 2021

11:30 AM
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
300 Broadway Drive
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin 53590

Graveside Service
November 23, 2021

10:00 AM
Sun Prairie Memory Gardens

Sun Prairie, 53590

Please note
There will be a luncheon at the church on Monday following the funeral services.


James A. Pingel Endowment Fund through Concordia University
Web: http://

When going to this website, please click on the comments for donation and place "James Pingel Endowment Fund" as your requested donation place.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
300 Broadway Drive, Sun Prairie WI 53590

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