This page is dedicated to Dr. Robert J. Ostenson (“Dr. O“). The above portrait of Dr. O is by Leon Loard, which hangs at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA), in Montgomery, AL.
Provided here are a number of sermons he preached while he was the senior pastor at Trinity Church (1974-1987). I (Roger) am digitizing the cassettes my Dad collected many years ago (and has since listened to dozens of times) that contain these sermons. As I digitize and edit them for clarity I will publish them here. This is an ongoing project.
Dr. Ostenson Through a Young Boy’s Eyes:
Dr. Ostenson’s ministry left a lasting influence upon my family in ways that can only be described as immeasurable and eternal as the Spirit worked through him. Much of this has to do with Dr. O’s preaching. Shortly after the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) formed, my parents visited Trinity. They were present for the first sermon Dr. O preached there in 1974, and my dad was immediately hooked. He says he had never heard anyone preach in such a way, and he wanted to hear more. So, my family joined Trinity Church and the PCA. I was three years old at the time.
As I moved from the nursery to attending the worship service in my early years, Dr. O’s sermons were the first sermons I heard and remember. Eventually (after my parents had participated in the planting of Eastwood Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, and our subsequent return to Trinity), I joined the church when I was twelve years old as part of the seventh grade communicants class (1983). Part of this was an interview with Dr. O. It was before church started, and he and I met in his office. I was quite intimidated by this distinguished Reverend, but he did his best to make me feel at ease and asked me some questions as to my testimony and other important considerations for church membership. I’m glad I was able to spend the one-on-one time with him, as such was rare for a youngster like me.
I suppose my impression of what a senior pastor is supposed to be like was formed by witnessing Dr. O in action. He was a man of great dignity, kindness, and wisdom. The experience of his preaching was like eating a good steak every time! There was no frivolity in Dr. O’s preaching and teaching. He boldly and uncompromisingly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, explaining the Scriptures and exhorting the people of God to live according to the Lord’s will.
Testimony to Dr. Ostenson’s Ministry by James McCay
Dr. Robert J. Ostenson, a man “after God’s own heart”
For over thirteen years, beginning in 1974, I was blessed beyond measure to be able to sit under the teaching and preaching of Dr. Robert J. Ostenson (Dr. O.). At the time, I did not realize the mentoring process had begun. I have several Bibles that are filled with notes from his sermons, Sunday School lessons, growth groups and Bible Studies. Even to this day, I am continually referencing his notes and amazed at the recall that I have regarding his teaching from God’s word.
In all my years of hearing God’s word expounded from the pulpit, I have never known or heard someone speak as Dr. O. To me, it was as if God had placed a heavy burden on his shoulders, “Tell your congregation the following”. As he preached, I could tell that God had worked in his life all week preparing him for his sermon and Dr. O. would deliver, his words echoing throughout the Sanctuary; words of conviction, exhortation and comfort.
Dr. O. was “one who walked the talk and lived the talk” in every area of his life, a man who loved God and lived a life answering God’s call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying word. He was a man whose impact on the life of his congregation had no boundaries. He arrived at the church almost every day at 5:00 am to meet with “The Father”, seeking His face by reading scripture and praying. Truly, “a man after God’s own heart”.
The mentoring process for me still continues with Dr. O. because I have his tapes, notes in my Bibles, and most of all the torch he passed to carry daily: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”. (Proverbs 3:5&6)
Ruling Elder – Presbyterian Church in America
Dr. Ostenson’s Bio:
Dr. Robert (Bob) James Ostenson was born on 19 October 1922 in Charles City, Iowa and passed into eternity on 3 March 2008 in Clinton, Mississippi. He was married to the former Peggy Otis and they had five children. Dr. Ostenson was one of the founding fathers of the Presbyterian Church in America.
Bob Ostenson was a student at Iowa State College when WWII broke out. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 27 January 1943 and left the service after the war on 14 March 1946 as a 1LT. Returning home, Bob married Peggy Otis of Los Angeles, CA in August of 1946. Following the wedding, he returned to college at the University of Southern California.
In 1953, Bob was awarded his MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary. He was quickly ordained by Mississippi Presbytery and served for three years as the pastor of the Woodville and Gloster, MS churches. He then served as the associate pastor at Carrollton Church in New Orleans, LA leaving in 1958 to take a call in Brookhaven, MS.
In June 1965, Bob took the pastorate at Granada Presbyterian Church in Coral Gables, FL where he served until August 1974. During that time, he received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Divinity) from Belhaven College in Jackson, MS in 1966. He also published two books: The Lord’s Prayer (1971), and God’s Happy Family (1972). It was also during his time in Coral Gables that he was part of the forming of the Presbyterian Church in America.
In 1974 Dr. Ostenson accepted a call to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, AL preaching his first sermon in September. He served at Trinity until January 1987. In 1987 he returned to Granada Presbyterian Church serving until his retirement in 1989.
– Kennedy Smartt, I Am Reminded: An Autobiographical, Anecdotal History of the Presbyterian Church in America, 82.
– Ashcroft, Bruce, Mark Anderson III, and Mrs. Allen L. Knox, In Remembrance: The Centennial History of Trinity Presbyterian Church
– The Mason City Globe-Gazette (Mason City, Iowa), 23 May 1946, p. 11.
– WWII Bonus Case Files. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa.
Dr. Ostenson’s Sermons:
Note: These recordings are taken from my Dad’s cassette tapes of Dr. O’s sermons. The quality of the playback of each tape is varied, but they are 38 years old and have been listened to often. I digitized them and edited them with sound editing software. The sermons are understandable for the most part, but there are a few places where deterioration of the cassette could not be overcome. Listen carefully, and you will find gold!