Emmaus Blog

Ruth Rinne

Emmaus Homes - Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ruth Rinne was introduced to Emmaus at a very early age. Growing up in Holstein near Marthasville, her family and church regularly brought fresh produce to the campus. Her great-great grandfather even donated some of the original acreage that Emmaus was built on.

Ruth attended seminary school in the 1950’s but found herself busy raising her children instead of becoming a pastor right away. She and her husband moved to Maryland for about 5 years, but good friend and Emmaus Superintendent, John Ruhl, convinced them to move back in 1966. Ruth played the organ in the chapel and her kids worked in the kitchen.

After the passing of her husband, Ruth was asked to become chaplain in 1981. Ruth began giving tours and showcasing to others how “The Emmaus community is the most wonderful community I’ve ever lived with”.

As chaplain, Ruth attempted to widen perspectives within her church community by holding offerings assigned for specific things. One offering really touched her heart. In the Great Flood of 1993, the local senior citizens home sustained heavy flood damage. One of Ruth’s residents stated “Mrs. Rinne, those folks need our help!” She remembers another client saving up all his money for these brand-new binoculars. One day after worship, he talked to Ruth about selling his binoculars to give to the offering, so he could help others.

Once she took a group of clients for a walk around the chapel. They walked up the hill and sat in the pews where she insisted that they just quietly take it all in. However, she had a client named Fred that had always been asking if he could preach. On this day he got up and went to the pulpit. He said, “Jesus loves me.” Then silence.

“It’s hard to know if you’re getting through to people, but then moments like that, you know. It’s still true to this day. Just listen, be patient, encourage expression and they’ll share at a deep level.”

In 1987 Ruth took a sabbatical in Canada. She lived and worked in a home similar Emmaus. While there she met Henri Nouwen who was the chaplain of the Daybreak community. In his book, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”, he writes, “During my time at Daybreak, I have been led to an inner place where I had not been before. It is the place within me where God has chosen to dwell. It is the place where I am held safe in the embrace of an all-loving Father who calls me by name and says: You are my beloved son, on you my favor rests. It is the place where I can taste the joy and peace that are not of this world.”

Ruth said, “For me, that place is Emmaus.”

To this day, Ruth drives by her old home in Marthasville. She reminisces about her kids playing in the cornfields and down by the creek. Her son with developmental disabilities recently moved from the campus into his own home. He stayed with his housemates and kept his wonderful staff. Emmaus continues to teach her family compassion and that everyone has gifts.

“At Emmaus, everyone gets more than they give.”


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