My congregations: I currently serve First Lutheran of Volga, SD and am interim pastor at Estelline, SD and Toronto, SD.
Years at this call: I have been serving at First Lutheran as a co-pastor with my husband since 2007. We have been interim pastors (very, very part-time) in Estelline and Toronto since December 2020.
What I love about my call: My call just feels like home and it always has. The people have a "Can-Do", progressive spirit and will give just about anything a try. They are very outward thinking and support many other non-profit organizations.
What I enjoy about rural/small town life: I enjoy rural life because I like knowing people, their stories and their extended families. I like being able to truly connect with people in the community, even if they aren't members of this congregation because I know them well. In a small community like this, everyone helps each other out.
Advice for others considering a rural call: My advice is to remember that everything that seems "bad" can also be "good." In other words, most things are both a blessing and a curse. For example, some people complain about small towns because "everyone knows your business" or the people are gossiping. However, this mixed blessing means that when someone is in need, everyone knows. When resources can be shared, everyone knows. When news needs to get out, everyone knows.
What I wish people knew about rural ministry: I wish that people knew that rural towns are not dead. Small towns are not all "red neck." Worship with 20 people is just as vital and as important as worship with 200 or 2000.
When there is contention and conflict in the church or community, it can be especially hard on the congregation. There are several dynamics at play in this phenomenon including the fact that everyone is either friends or related.
A special story: Dan and I and our boys arrived in Volga when the boys were very young. We moved there with a 1953 Chevy pickup that I had restored when I was in high school. Having the pickup gave me instant "street cred." (no pun intended) It was a safe topic of conversation in our get-to-know-you stage of ministry. We used it as parade floats for many years. The members (especially the older ones) love our kids as if they are their own kids or grandkids.