Eight Years

It was a hot, steamy July afternoon in Marion County, IL. The tent next door to the church building would be a wonderful place for a meal and conversation after Divine Service. Over 20 pastors vested and participated that afternoon. A pastor from Sheboygan, Wisconsin preached. The District President did the honor of laying hands on the young seminary student, placing him into the Holy Preaching Office of Word and Sacrament in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Eight years ago this past Wednesday was my ordination day. It was also my installation at Trinity congregation in Iuka, IL. It was a joyous day. My best memory was my father giving me a long hug after Divine Service. He was proud to see his son as a pastor.

The honeymoon was short. A month later I had my first member angry at me. It didn’t take long for me to anger a few more people. The next thing I knew, over four and a half years passed, a few unsigned letters were written to me and trashed, I was married and had a daughter, and I accepted a Call to northern Illinois. Here I sit over three years after taking the Call now on medication and therapy, not to mention learning a lot about Emotional Intelligence.

I have remorse and regrets over the stupid mistakes I made in Iuka. There are a lot of moments I wish I could wind the video tape back and do something all over again. Some people were very forgiving of my mistakes, others not so forgiving. That’s to be expected. No one is perfect, no, not even pastors. I was trying to be someone I could not be, both to myself and to my congregation.

Receiving the Call to Momence was a blessing. The Call was a blessing not because I left Iuka. I still speak to a few families down there. The blessing was becoming involved in Doxology and coming to grips with depression, anxiety, and my out-of-control emotions.

There are a number of reminders of my years in Iuka that I still have. The gourd with a carving of the old church on one side and Luther’s Rose on the other side. The glider swing that now sits on our deck. My “golf fund” change bank. My “Prayer Changes Things” sign in my study. Little knick-knacks and trinkets here and there. Pictures, of course. Memories, obviously. The bad ones tend to fade into gray the older I get. The good ones tend to stick around.

The last two years of my service in Office have been better than the first six combined. My preaching has improved (and is still improving), my teaching is more in focus, I am able to bring comfort and admonition without all the anxiety, and I am getting more comfortable in my shoes with who I am as a person. God is turning the corner at my current congregation. Bright days lie ahead.

Thanks be to God for using a bumbling fool like me to bring the Good News of forgiveness and life in Iuka and Momence, Illinois.

– KT


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