The Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. Precious in the sight of the Lord is death of His saints.
The Rev. Glenn Ray Bitter was given life by his Creator and was born on 11 July 1940 in Susank, Kansas, the younger son of Theodore and Mollie (nee Schweitzer) Bitter. He was a descendant of the Lutheran Germans from Russia who populated central Kansas. Days later on 4 August 1940, he was baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection and made an heir everlasting life at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Susank, Kansas. The good and gracious Lord maintained him through His Word and Sacrament in the grace of his Baptism throughout his life.
On 5 September 1954, Rev. Bitter received the rite of confirmation at the hand of Pr. Fredrichsen and confessed before God and men the faith given him in his Baptism at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Hoisington, Kansas, vowing “to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away” from the Evangelical-Lutheran confession and church. Again, in His abundant goodness and grace, the Lord preserved Rev. Bitter in his God-wrought conviction throughout this life.
Rev. Bitter was a graduate of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s St. John’s Academy (1958) and St. John’s College with an A.A. (1961) in Winfield, Kansas. He then attended K-State, graduating in 1963 with B.A. in Philosophy.
After graduating from college, Rev. Bitter matriculated at Concordia Theological Seminary, then located in Springfield, Illinois. There he first crossed paths with the future Rev. Roger Goetz, with whom Rev. Bitter spent the last 19 years of his active ministry as a colleague at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Topeka. He served his vicarage in 1965-1966 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. He graduated and received the B.Div. from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1967.
Rev. Bitter was called into the Office of the Holy Ministry publicly to proclaim the same death and resurrection of Jesus by which he had been redeemed and to administer His holy Sacraments, and was ordained at his home congregation, by this time Concordia Lutheran Church in Hoisington, Kansas, on 25 June 1967. Shortly thereafter, on 2 July 1967, he was installed as pastor of the joint parish of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Woodstock, Minnesota and St. James Lutheran Church in Holland, Minnesota, where he faithfully served until 1971. In 1971, he was called to serve as pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bremen, Kansas, where he faithfully served until 1973.
Rev. Bitter was joined to Mary Bailey in marriage on 30 August 1964 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Effingham, Illinois. Through that union the Lord blessed him with two dear children, David and Renea, who survive him, along with David’s wife Amy (and their daughter Meghan) and Renea’s husband Davidson (and their daughter Rhiannon). Later in life, on 23 June 1990, he was joined in holy matrimony to Denise Bondy by Rev. Robert Nestler at Calvary Lutheran Church in Topeka. She survives, of the home. He is also survived by elder brother Elmer Bitter of Great Bend, Kansas, and his wife Aleen, along with his nephew and niece and their children.
Due to health reasons he reluctantly left the active ministry in 1973 and moved to Topeka with his family. He remained a resident of Topeka until the end of his life. In Topeka, he and his family became members of Calvary Lutheran Church, where he remained a member until 1994, when he became a member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. His children attended Topeka Lutheran School, and during their years there he was active in the governance of that school.
During his hiatus from the ministry, he was employed as a carpenter in Montara. He was then employed by K-Mart and finally at Whelan’s Lumber Yard in Topeka, where he retired in 2002.
In 1998 Rev. Bitter was reinstated into the ministerium of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and received a divine call to serve as visitation pastor at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Topeka. Fondly remembered by those he served, he proclaimed God’s Word and brought the blessing of the Sacrament of the Altar to countless members of St. John’s during their last years, ushering them with the comfort of Christ’s blood and righteousness to their eternal rest. During these years, he also served numerous vacant congregations in the area, including Christ Lutheran Church in Manhattan, Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lawrence (which he was influential in founding), Trinity Lutheran Church in Holton, and Hope Lutheran Church in Topeka. Finally, in 2016 at age 76, he retired from his labors as a public servant of Christ and His church.
Rev. Bitter was an inveterate tinkerer. He was mechanical and a fearless problem-solver. He loved working with his hands and was a life-long gardener. He greatly enjoyed spending time with his grand-children, and was blessed to spend extensive time with them in their early years, often as their babysitter. He enjoyed keeping pets, especially dogs. He loved to visit with friends, family, and neighbors and often lent a helping hand. He was a sacrificially devoted son to his parents and in-laws as long as they lived and a devoted father and grandfather. He loved children. An excellent singer, he was a choir member and frequent soloist.
Finally, on 22 July 2020, God the Holy Spirit granted Rev. Bitter a holy death in faith in his Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil, and took him home to rest in the arms of Jesus to await the resurrection of the dead.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Thanks be to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, for His faithfulness to Rev. Bitter and for all the good He worked in and through Him.
A public visitation will be held on Monday, 27 July 2020 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Penwell-Gabel Cremations, Funerals and Receptions, 1321 SW 10th Ave., Topeka. Those who attend are requested to wear a mask. A private funeral will be held on Tuesday, 28 July 2020 at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, with Christian burial to follow at Mt. Hope in Topeka.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 901 SW Fillmore, Topeka, KS, 66606 or online by visiting www.stjohnlcmstopeka.org or to The Bitter Student Aid Endowment Fund at Concordia Theological Seminary, 6600 N Clinton St., Fort Wayne, IN, 46825.
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