Bishop Fritz Mutti Uses a Planned Gift to Augment His Scholarship Fund
It wasn't hard for Bishop Albert Frederick "Fritz" Mutti, III (GBI 1963) to decide who to make the beneficiary of his retirement fund. He wanted to honor all three of his alma maters. "I wanted to give money to those institutions that were special to me," he explained. "Every educational institution needs a growing foundation and financial support."
The portion that will go to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary will augment the Bishop Fritz Mutti Endowed Scholarship, initiated by Garrett-Evangelical in 1998 to recognize Mutti's distinguished ministry. In addition to Mutti's annual gifts to the scholarship, others who have benefitted from his ministry have also contributed to its growth.
Mutti grew up in Hopkins, a small town of about 700 people in Northwest Missouri. He graduated from high school in 1956, right when the space race was just beginning. "I thought God might be calling me to become a space engineer," he said. He decided to attend Iowa State University for its engineering program, but once there, he discovered he did not receive the kind of education in high school that he needed to become a space engineer.
While at Iowa State, Mutti began to hear a call to the ministry. He talked to his pastor to help him think through that decision, and his pastor urged him to go to a United Methodist college. Mutti transferred to Central College in Missouri, now called Central Methodist University, and graduated in 1960 with a degree in philosophy and history.
Several of his friends in pre-theology at Central College, including his brother-in-law, Larry Sonner, (GBI 1963) were planning to attend Garrett Biblical Institute after graduation, so he, too, decided to go to Garrett. He enrolled in the fall of 1960 and was happy he did. "I loved Garrett," he remembered. "I loved going to school. I had such wonderful teachers; the faculty was outstanding while we were there."
He graduated with a master of divinity in 1963 and was appointed to a three-point charge in northern Missouri. He was the pastor of the Union-Star Chapel-Oak Grove circuit for two years before he moved to Savannah, Missouri, where he became the founding pastor of Crossroads Ecumenical Cooperative Parish, made up of congregations from three denominations - United Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ.
In 1974, he was invited to join the Missouri West Conference staff as
director of education and camping and later conference council director.
There, he began to do a lot of ecumenical work and became an active leader
in Christian education. "I loved being in education and ecumenical work,"
he remembered. During this time, he served as co-president of the Missouri
Council of Churches and earned his doctorate of ministry from the Saint
Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1987, Mutti was appointed district superintendent of the Marshall District of the Missouri Conference in Central Missouri, and two years later, he became district superintendent of the Kansas City North District in the Missouri West Conference. In total, he served five years as district superintendent. Additionally, he was a delegate to five Jurisdictional Conferences and four General Conferences.
In 1992, he was elected as a bishop of The United Methodist Church and was sent to the Kansas area, where he worked with pastors. Mutti decided he would visit all of the 650 churches under his charge. "Every weekend, I would preach somewhere in Kansas," he said. "It took me about eight years, but I visited nearly every one of those churches." Also, during this time, Mutti traveled internationally, visiting many countries, including Guatemala, Mozambique, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand.
"It was a great job," Mutti said. "It is an honor to be a bishop in The United Methodist Church." Mutti served as a bishop until he retired in 2004.
In addition to his other work, Mutti served as director of the General Board of Discipleship (1980-1988), the General Board of Global Ministries (1988-1992), and the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (1996- 2004). He served as chairperson of the General Task Force on Concern for Workers (1996-2000), and president of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (2000-2004).
He is also the author of four books: The Acacia Tree; Faithful Members: The Doctrines and Duties of the Christian Faith ; Breath of New Life: Eight Marks of Spiritual Leadership; and D ancing in a Wheelchair: One Family Faces HIV/AIDS, co-authored with his wife.
In retirement, he served as a member of the coordinating Council of Churches Uniting in Christ and the Pan Methodist Council. He and his wife, Etta Mae, also served as coordinators of the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund. They currently live in a retirement village in Missouri.
Mutti and his wife had three sons, all deceased. "You build up your estate to pass it on to the next generation, but we don't have anyone to pass it on to," he said. "We decided we were going to make gifts to Central Methodist University, Garrett -Evangelical Theological Seminary, and Saint Paul School of Theology. These are all institutions we believe in."If you would be interested in exploring how you too could name the seminary as the beneficiary of an annuity, insurance policy, IRA, or a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, contact David Heetland, senior vice president for planned giving, for further information. He can be reached at 847.866.3970 or [email protected] .