Grace Member "Jerry Freudenburg " Featured in Lutheran Reporter!

Three-time NBA champion Shaun Livingston remembers his Midwestern Lutheran roots

“Shaun knew Jerry long before Jerry knew him, hardly surprising given their 18-year age difference. Shaun was a little kid, attending church at Trinity, and Jerry was the head pastor’s son, the young man in the wheelchair.”
In spite of that age difference, a friendship was forged — a friendship that has lasted over 20 years.

In 2016, Concordia Lutheran School, a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) K–8 grade school in Peoria, Ill., dedicated a major expansion of its facility, including a new gym, stage with sound system, and storm shelter.

NBA player Shaun Livingston of the Golden State Warriors was at the ceremony. Livingston, who graduated from Concordia in 2000, gave $1 million to the capital campaign to fund the expansion.

Kirk Wessler, a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Peoria and former sports writer and editor for the Peoria Journal Star, relates the details of Livingston’s gift to the school in his 2016 feature story, “Shaun Livingston and the Friendship Worth More than $1 Million.”

“When our son, Jerry, was very sick, Shaun told us how he had been praying for him every day. Then he followed that by insisting that he fly Jerry from Florida to Peoria for the ‘Evening with Shaun Livingston’ [fundraiser for the Concordia Lutheran School capital campaign]. … Shaun’s love and care to my son … has given my son the feeling that he is valued.”

Wessler tells of Livingston’s childhood in Peoria and his grandfather’s desire that he be in church. So even though the family was not Lutheran, Livingston began attending Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Peoria because it was the closest church within walking distance.

“At Trinity,” writes Wessler, “Shaun would be baptized, with longtime Concordia teachers Tom and Ruth Ruppert standing as his godparents. He would enroll at Concordia for kindergarten, which was taught by Ruth, and years later, in eighth grade, star for a Lutheran Sports Association state championship basketball team coached by Tom.”……………………………