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Generation Giving: The Gueberts Donor Feature

July 17, 2023 - 5 minute read

the Gueberts laughing

TIM AND SUE GUEBERT’S TWINS, Alex ’11 and Christian ’10, graduated from Concordia and have gained recognition in ministry and music, serving in local churches, publishing original pieces of music, mostly for handbells, and receiving awards for their work. Undergirding their success (and that of their younger sister, Hannah) are parents who laid a strong foundation in faith and financial giving that is helping their generation go even further.

“When I see how God has blessed our family, there is no question that it’s our responsibility to help in any way we can,” says Sue, a longtime Lutheran school teacher. “That’s our job. It’s not much, but you do what you can.”

The Guebert family’s strong association with Concordia began in the mid-2000s when the twins decided to attend and study a wide range of church music.

“We knew early on that they had an exceptional ear for music and rhythm,” Sue says. “We exposed them to a lot of different music and made them continue with piano lessons because we knew this was a gift from God. We talked about it a lot, that you don’t want to waste a gift. By high school there was no question what they wanted to do.” Jeff Held, at the time the band director at Orange Lutheran High School where the Guebert children attended, took a position in the music department at Concordia and strongly recruited the musically-inclined boys.

“He came to our house and told Tim he wished we’d had triplets,” Sue says with a laugh. Alex and Christian flourished at Concordia and went on to receive their director of parish ministries certificates and earn master’s degrees in the musical field. Christian earned a PhD in composition from UCLA in 2020, and both won major composition awards: Alex for handbells and Christian for choral arrangements. Today, Alex serves as director of music at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, and Christian serves in the same role at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Lake Forest. 

Their love of church music should be no surprise as they come from generations of Lutherans. Tim was a Lutheran pastor’s son, raised in Girard, Kansas. When Tim’s dad took a call to a church in California, Tim finished high school, moved west and got a summer job at a grocery store “that inadvertently turned into a career,” he says. 

His real goal was to be a radio DJ.

“I thought that was the coolest thing ever,” Tim says.

He spun records part-time at a Southern California radio station while working at the grocery store, then shifted full-time into the grocery business for 37 years.

“Many years I worked overnight which made it easier raising the kids, because I got to be home a lot,” he says. Sue, born in Orange, was the granddaughter of a Lutheran pastor. She spent more than two decades in the classroom, teaching first and second graders at Immanuel Lutheran in Orange, then at St. Paul’s in Orange. Recently retired, she still works part-time in the library.

“I loved the incredible change you see in children from the first day to the last day of school,” she says. “They can go from not knowing how to find anything in their desks to reading chapter books. It’s wonderful, and they’re so adorable. But the best thing about teaching was sharing Jesus and Jesus’ love with those kids. They are at an age where they have such strong, sincere, innocent faith. That was the most important thing that I did.”

After retiring, Tim had time to embrace a unique kind of volunteer work involving his favorite activity: skiing.

“Skiing is one of my loves,” he says. “I found out I could ski soon after I moved out here.”

In 1990, he began volunteering with a group in the Big Bear area now called U.S. Adaptive Recreation Center which helps people with mental or physical disabilities learn to ski. For some, this means riding on a mono-ski, which “looks like a sled but up higher,” Tim says. Others use a bi-ski. Volunteers like Tim can be tethered to them, helping them go down the hill successfully. Tim has also helped visually impaired skiers.

“I spend a lot of time skiing backward while they follow me,” he says. “It’s very rewarding. I love being up there.”

When he comes home from volunteering, Tim shares stories of his students’ successes.

“Sue, being the teacher she is, is so interested in that,” he says.

They also enjoy giving. While the twins were attending Concordia, Tim and Sue made a commitment to donate financially to the music program every year.

“We went to a lot of concerts and events and eventually grew to really appreciate the music program, and how amazing it was and how supportive the school was of our sons,” Sue says.

“They had so many opportunities, and their compositions were played. They loved the atmosphere of Concordia.”

At the time, both boys were “on the shy side,” she says, and Concordia’s smaller size afforded them “so many more opportunities and so much more support from the faculty. As parents, that meant a lot to us, and the fact that they came into their own there. We say they grew up there. Those were formative years for them.”

While Tim and Sue say they never had “a whole lot of money” it was “always more than we needed because that’s how God works,” says Sue. “We felt like in some way we wanted to continue to support what we could afford for as long as we were able.”

They chose to give an annual gift to the music program.

“We just said to each other, ‘Yes, we’re going to do this as long as we’re able,’ and God has provided so we don’t see having to stop,” Tim says.

“Tim and Sue are the perfect example of how a little can go a long way,” says Jonathan Howard ’04, director of planned gifts. “I don’t know if they fully realize how big of an impact their years of giving have made. It is this type of dedication that will ensure that more students enjoy the benefits from this university for generations to come."

Both Tim and Sue “absolutely love and support the fact that [Concordia is] a Lutheran university

and what’s being done there,” Sue says. “That meant a lot to us.”

The Gueberts now have six grandchildren— all granddaughters and all born since 2020. Hannah’s husband and Concordia alumnus Eric Clausen ’10 is pastor at Christ Lutheran in Brea. Christian’s wife Megan ’09 is a Concordia alumna as well.

“Every Sunday we get together to have dinner and it’s wild and wonderful,” says Sue. “Whoever can come, we feed them and those kids can play together.”

When it comes to giving, “The truth is you don’t miss it,” Sue says. “God is so good. It’s never a negative thing to give your money or time. It’s always a blessing.”


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