1. Tell us about yourself and your ministry setting.
Miller is a town of about 1500, and is county seat in a county with twice that population. First Presbyterian Church was the first church in Hand County, and was established in 1882. We have just under 200 members. We have long been known as a church for people who don’t have a church. We are actively engaged in a number of important local mission projects, and also have a long-standing reputation for the ministry we do through music.
2. What drew you to a call in SD?
I am from South Dakota. In fact, I am from Miller. So I serve the church I grew up in. When I went off to seminary in 1997, there was a terrible shortage of good pastors willing to serve in places like South Dakota, and that was a motivating factor in the decision to go into ministry. So I always intended to be in this part of the country, anyway, and South Dakota fits us pretty well.
3. What has been your favorite part of it?
Being allowed the opportunity to serve this church that played such a large part in my upbringing has been a tremendous honor.
4. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was learning what it meant to be a pastor. I am grateful for a really good seminary education, but then one day somebody gave me the keys to the church and said “Here you go.” I felt like I had an awful lot to learn. That was nearly twenty years ago, and I have to say that the people of this church have been patient and kind and forgiving. And though I still have a lot to learn, they have taught me a lot about what a pastor is and does.
5. Why should others consider a call here?
South Dakota is a great place to live and raise children. But it is so much more. I like the fact that we have four seasons (though if it were up to me, some seasons might be shorter and others longer than they are here). Also, South Dakota is a place where people still go to church, and the claims of Christian discipleship are not entirely foreign to the culture. I also think that in South Dakota, there is a general trust of the church and of pastors. This means that pastors have an even greater opportunity to really get to know people in the church, and to become a part of the community. It also means that pastors have some considerable freedom to try different things and learn on the fly. My experience has been that people will go a long way with a pastor, just because that one is the pastor.