My first-call congregation, Soldier Lutheran in Soldier, Iowa, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its town church this past Memorial Day Weekend. I did not make it back for the celebration but I was asked to send some memories which could be read.
Pastor Meggan Manlove served as pastor of Solider Lutheran from August 2004 through October 2010. Some of the things Pastor Meggan remembers from her time among us include:
Ray and Elaine Holst drove to her home congregation of Custer Lutheran Fellowship in South Dakota for her ordination. What an incredible way to show compassion for your new pastor.
The parsonage was such a gift for this young adult pastor embarking on her first full-time job. You did so much work to prepare it for the move-in. It was a great place to welcome travelers and parishioners. And there was no better place than the front porch to enjoy an Iowa summer thunderstorm.
The boiler at the church taught her more than she ever wanted to know about big furnaces. Seriously, it was never part of seminary education but it is part of the job. She had to learn what questions to ask and to surround herself with people who understand the church utilities.
She remembers the congregation assuming that because she was the pastor, she was perfectly capable of presiding at her first funeral and first wedding on the same day. You simply expected Pastor Meggan to do the job and that helped her rise to the occasion.
One evening she sat in the fellowship hall with four church elders as they combed through school reunion lists and cemetery donation lists from past Memorial Days. They were creating the mailing list for the South Church siding ask letter but Meggan was getting a comprehensive history of the church and town.
When her dad was scheduled to have his aortic aneurism repaired, you told her, “Family comes first. Go to Rapid City Pastor Meggan.” You helped her see that she could be both a good daughter and a faithful pastor.
She loved dreaming about redoing the narthex, asking whose kitchens had recently been remodeled that you all liked, and then assembling the team, picking out furniture and art work and finally watching the space be transformed.
She was so thankful that Joyce Nelsen lived next to the parsonage. Her kitchen table became Pastor Meggan’s oasis on more than one occasion, usually after she had failed miserably.
She put a lot of miles on her car visiting home-bound and care-center residents. She was consistently thankful that Loess Hills were so beautiful on those drives to Whiting, Dunlap, Denison, Onawa and Mapleton.
Pastor Meggan remembers choosing hymns and discussing Holy Communion settings with the Worship and Music Committee and being so thankful that you would learn new music. And she remembers being so blessed by the gifts of Jean Dommer and Alice McQueen–who always were up for something new.
You hired Deb Amunson shortly before Pastor Meggan arrived and she was such a blessing–she has the most open heart and gracious spirit.
Pastor Meggan remembers that she was so young and so naive and made so many mistakes. But you forgave her and loved her and helped her grow, which is exactly what she needed from her first-call congregation.
Thank you and have a great anniversary!