Eleven years ago tonight I first laid eyes on Momence, Illinois. I was a pastor downstate in Iuka, where I had spent over four and a half years serving God’s flock there. A call from Our Savior Lutheran Church in Momence had come my way. Becky, Cate (then not quite 2.5 years old) and I drove up from Iuka to look over the community and the church building.
I recall staying in Crete at my seminary classmate Larry Loree’s house. He served at the other end of the circuit in Steger at the time. I remember Reid, the chairman of the voters assembly inviting the three of us to eat with his wife and young son. His son kept bugging Dad for pizza. I told Reid, “Let the young man have his pizza!” So we ate up the street at Monical’s Pizza, now long gone.
I met some wonderful people for the first time that night. The congregation had gone through a rough patch. Families had left. Disagreements took place. Nevertheless, my predecessors had laid a good foundation in the preaching of the Gospel. I’ll never forget watching the LWML ladies walk up the front stairs after their meeting in what became our parsonage.
After another day checking out the area and a nice reception at Pr. Loree’s house among some of the circuit pastors, we drove home to Iuka with lots of thinking and praying to do. Ultimately I accepted the call and was installed here on March 25, 2007. The dear saints in Iuka, IL remain in my thoughts. They were my first charge out of seminary. Some have fallen asleep in Jesus since my departure. All of them, living and asleep, are loved and missed. I learned a lot there. It was a joy to serve them.
The Lord has seen fit to bless Becky and me with four more children since then. The parsonage here was turned back into a parsonage and an addition was built as our family grew. The disagreements died down over time after my installation. A great peace has descended over the congregation. I’ve had my rough moments with depression and weight gain. I also changed my lifestyle a few years ago, lost some weight, and still am working on all facets of my life. If the Lord sees fit to let me finish my service as a pastor in Momence, I am happy. We are well taken care of here. I count it all joy to serve the Lord in eastern Kankakee County, Illinois.
It seems like yesterday, and then, it seems like so long ago….