This article by G. Birkmann, pastor em, was originally written in German for the 14 November 1935 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt and translated by Ray Martens. This article appears in English in the Texas Lutheran Messenger.
I learned to know him at a conference in Waco, Texas, at the end of 1892. He had been installed as a missionary for Waco shortly before when E. F. Moerbe, his classmate, assumed his role as traveling preacher on the Texas and Pacific Railway at about the same time.
Rische had only a few people to serve in Waco. It was hoped that with time and through conducting a school he would be able to gather more families into a congregation. Our mission work was entirely in German at that time, and missionaries were given the task of gathering and serving German Lutherans.
Rische lived in Waco until the beginning of 1896. I visited him during the fall of 1893, and I gained the impression of him that he was living under the best of conditions with the members of his household. He was intent and talkative and prepared to serve. When I told him that I left an umbrella behind at a place not really nearby, he hurried there at once to get the umbrella. One notices something like that.
Rische was called to Manheim, seven miles from Giddings, at the beginning of 1896. Here he found a congregation which had been in existence for twenty years and in fairly good condition because they had more than a few knowledgeable members. Rische was still single but was boarded well by Mr. August Pillack and his dear wife, who allowed him to suffer no lack of anything, and we soon saw how the young man, rather slender at first, became more rotund. And I would say that his inner person also grew in the same way. He became more certain of his point of view. He always had had an independent nature, but now he learned to step forward more forcefully and to gain confidence in [stating] his opinion. But I also wish to say here immediately that he never pushed himself forward or appeared to be bombastic and dogmatic, but always remained the same modest, sensible Rische we had come to know. He conducted school for the first ten years in his congregation at Manheim, and certainly happily and with skill and success. This task was very dear to him, and he enjoyed talking about it with his brothers in ministry. He promoted the catechism with special diligence in school and with his confirmands, and also in the congregation through regular Christenlehre [catechetical instruction included in the weekly worship service], which he never allowed to be cut short.
He also made very decided progress in his preaching. He had had to overcome, as did many others, significant difficulties. Expression, memory, and voice required much supervision and practice, but, with time and through determined willpower, he more and more nearly overcame all obstacles.
In the management of his congregation, he stood the test well. He possessed a quiet temperament and good mind and soon knew how to take what is right from the Word of God. Therefore, he often was elected to district office. He was chairman of the board for church construction and made several time-consuming distant trips in that capacity in order to serve the congregation in question. He was also a Visitator [circuit counselor is the current counterpart] for years, first for the southeast part of Texas and then in what was called the Post Oak Circuit. He was also at home in Christian doctrine, and he delivered the lecture for our doctrinal discussions at Warda in 1921. He never was absent from a convention or conference if it was at all possible for him to come, and also, otherwise, everyone considered him to be a popular and esteemed guest.
He understood well how to interact with people. He had been given a great amount of common sense. His practical sense displayed itself also in his housekeeping. He kept his household affairs in good order. God had placed a like-minded wife beside him. If one visited them, then it was worthwhile also to take a look in the chicken yard where the pure-bred chickens were being well kept, or to go into the large garden and there to see the rows of different varieties of vegetables and the grapevines and berry vines in rows tied up on stakes.
Rev. Rische also read extensively, to the extent that he even had time for this left over, not merely in theological books and periodicals, but also in other writings, in which history interested him especially.
Here I have mentioned only his congregation in Manheim, but he also served the congregation in Rose Hill for fifteen years (along with its sister congregation in Hufsmith—now independent with its own pastor). Rische worked in Rose Hill in exactly the same way as before, though there he had the pleasure of working alongside a teacher for a part of the time. But, when no teacher was there, Rische took over the school again.
He then spent the last fourteen and a half years, 1921-35, back in Manheim, likewise with an efficacy blessed by God, even though hindered by illness in the last part of that time.
So, he spent almost twenty-five years in Manheim, and, if, along with these, you count the three years in Waco and the fifteen in Rose Hill, that makes a total of forty-three years in the ministry.