Rev. Dr. Paul R. Ziese is an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastoral leader who has been asked several times to lead organizations during times of significant stress and transition.
Paul’s service began while as a student at Texas Lutheran University (College). When he was President of the Campus Congregation, the group met in temporary facilities because of a Christmas 1969 fire in the Chapel of the Abiding Presence. While President of the Student Association, he met with President Joe Menn every Monday morning at 8 am to discuss the impact of the Vietnam War and related issues on student life.
After graduating from seminary, Paul became part of the first clergy couple in The American Lutheran Church to serve in the Sunbelt. His wife Lynn was the first female pastor in the ALC south of Iowa. Before becoming disabled in two car accidents in 2010, Lynn served as Bishop’s Associate in the Southwestern Texas Synod for four Bishops over twenty two years.
As a parish pastor in Texas, Paul has led several groups during times of change. He chaired the Southern District Council and Executive Committee as plans were underway to create the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. While he was Chair of the Board of Lutheran Social Service of Texas, the agency merged with similar agencies in El Paso and New Orleans to form Lutheran Social Services of the South. While he was Chair of the Board of Lutheran Outdoor and Retreat Ministries of the Southwest, the agency divided into three agencies serving the Southwestern Texas Synod, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, and Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Mission Area. More recently when Paul was President of the Greater San Antonio Community of Churches, the group decided to become interfaith as the Greater San Antonio Community of Congregations. He is currently serving as a co-founder of the San Antonio Sponsoring Committee, a 501c3 community organizing group.
Paul has served as a delegate or voting member to three national denominational conventions or assemblies, all of which made major decisions: San Antonio in 1970 to ordain women, San Diego in 1987 to form the ELCA, and Minneapolis in 2009 to ordain gays and lesbians.
Paul is a native of Houston where he graduated from Waltrip High School in 1968, received a Kerr-McGee Corp. National Merit Scholarship, and was voted the outstanding boy in the class.
In 1972, Paul received a B.A. summa cum laude in sociology and psychology from Texas Lutheran University (College).
Paul earned two degrees at Luther Seminary. He received his M.Div. in 1976 and his M.Th. In systematic theology in 1982. His M.Th. thesis was Theology and Practice of Baptism for Lutherans and Baptists.
Paul’s last degree was a D.Min. in comprehensive stewardship from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary in 1998. His 292- page field project was called Stewardship Education as a Means of Parish Redevelopment.
Paul was baptized in Houston at Park Place Lutheran Church in 1950, confirmed at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in 1964, and ordained at Holy Cross in 1977.
While Pastor of MacArthur Park Lutheran Church, Paul has had four sabbaticals in which he has toured Germany; spent a week in retreat at Taize, France; toured the Holy Land; spent thirty days in a silent retreat with Jesuits; read numerous books; studied Spanish in Costa Rica; participated in national community organizer training; prayed nine times a day with a group of Benedictine monks, and participated in an emotional intelligence retreat.
The congregation and Paul have received two significant honors during his years in the congregation. In 1998 Paul was named Alum in Residence at Luther Seminary and taught and preached in St. Paul for several days. In 2003, MacArthur Park Lutheran was named San Antonio “Church of the Year” and received the Churchmanship Award from the Greater San Antonio Community of Churches.
Paul has served the following Lutheran congregations, all in South Texas: Salem of Austin, Grace of Lockhart, St. Paul of Yorktown, St. John’s of Austin, and MacArthur Park of San Antonio.
Paul’s hobbies include working out at a gym five days a week, solving Sudoku puzzles, reading several magazines, watching PBS, and keeping up with astronomy and meteorology.
In his spare time, Paul is serving as a co-founder of the San Antonio Sponsoring Committee, trying to revitalize the San Antonio Community of Congregations, serving on the new Southwestern Texas Synod stewardship committee, and serving on the religious outreach committee of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. He worked with a group of local leaders to commemorate in 2017 the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and he is providing visibility to mainline Protestants in San Antonio. He recently completed eight years on the board of St. Luke's Lutheran Health Ministries and this year was elected to a new term.
The most unique aspect of Paul’s ministry at MacArthur Park is preaching interactive sermons without notes but with outlines provided to listeners. He is also leading the congregation in an exciting outreach plan as the congregation “lives the gospel and changes the world” by focusing on various kinds of poverty in the neighborhood. Members and non-members enjoy reading his blog (Pastor Paul's Column) on this website where he tries to keep interested people updated on what is happening in the congregation and community.
Paul is married to Rev. Dr. Lynn Schudy Ziese and they have three children; daughter Rachel is awaiting a new call as a pastor in Wisconsin, son Jonathan is an actor in New York City, and son Timothy is an attorney with the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. The Zieses have been blessed with five grandchildren.