The Profiler: The Rev. Roger Bauer
The Profiler: The Rev. Roger Bauer
The Rev. Roger Bauer and band mate Jim Franz. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Roger Bauer.
For those who have had the pleasure of knowing him, this will forever ring true: The Rev. Roger Bauer is a man you won't forget. Yes, there’s the motorcycle; the long hair; and the Native American jewelry, earring and nose ring. Take even a fleeting amount of time to chat with Bauer and you might be drawn in by his wide grasp of useless historical facts, his boisterous laugh, or his ability to listen openly and hold a highly intelligent conversation. (This is certainly what I will remember after our two-hour lunch.)
But when Bauer walked in the door, my first impression upon observing him being greeted by the restaurant’s wait staff and several people dining around me was this: I thought he'd be taller. Because I heard such heartfelt and passionate descriptions of a kind, generous, intelligent, energetic, and giving man that I expected someone at least seven feet tall.
After more than three decades in Alameda, the Rev. Bauer is going back home. The longtime pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, which he led until 2009, will shepherd a new congregation at Hope Lutheran Church in Rhodes, Michigan.
Friends are holding a going-away party for Bauer from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today at Pier 29 Restaurant, 1148 Ballena Boulevard. It’s open to the public.
The Rev. Bauer is a man of faith in not just God, but in people. As a chaplain he has provided counsel, hope and healing to people of many different faiths with the Alameda Police Department, the Chaplain's Group of Alameda and the Alameda Ministerial Association, as well his own congregation. He was on the board of Alameda Point Collaborative when it was barely budding and started organizations such as Alamedans With Hope and the Alameda Services Collaborative.
In 1970, his plan was to attend Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. But when the majority of the seminary’s faculty and students walked out and formed Concordia Seminary in Exile-Seminex, the seeds of holy rebellion were sown in Bauer – producing a unique blend of open wildness, intellectual curiosity, humble service and strong faith.
Bauer came to Alameda in 1980, and he served Immanuel Lutheran for 29 years. In 2009 he founded his own Many Hats Ministry, through which he officiates weddings, baptisms and funerals, and offers counseling. The ministry also features Bauer’s band, Roknrev and the Deacons.
Music has been an integral part of the Rev. Bauer's life for decades and has been key to how he brings people together. As a young boy in Michigan playing the accordion until his fingers “got tired of pushing the frickin' buttons on that thing,” hosting weekly music events in his church, playing in dozens of bands, to shamelessly name-dropping in interviews, the Rev. Bauer is a man that was born at the right time and place.
His stories of ministering to red-eyed, salty sailors at the Port of Oakland – Bauer has served as chaplain at Oakland’s International Maritime Center since 2011 – bring to mind treacherous seas and tortured souls searching for the familiar face of home.
Hope Lutheran’s congregation asked Bauer to come tend to them, and eventually, with the same spirit of adventure that brought him to Alameda, he said yes. He’ll be officially installed on December 7.
In addition to ministering to a new congregation, Bauer said he’ll be contemplating a garden, horses, and spending time with his father and hometown friends.
While he’s not enthusiastic about packing, sorting and moving, he said he’s excited about this new chapter in his life. But he added that he’s not closing the book on Alameda for good.
“Oh, I'm coming back,” Bauer said. “I'm leaving one of my motorcycles here.”