My congregation: I’m the solo pastor at Underwood Lutheran in Underwood Iowa, just outside the Omaha/Council Bluffs Metro.
Years at this call: July will mark 9 years since I began my call at Underwood.
What I love about my call: One of the joys of being the solo pastor of a small to mid-sized congregation is that I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the entire congregation. I get to truly share life with the people. This means engaging with our youngest ones as they banter with me during children’s sermons, or seeing the weird scrunched up faces when the water of baptism hits their head. It also means sitting side by side with people in the midst of tragedy. But more than anything, I love the sense of joy of simply sharing moments together.
What I enjoy about rural life: Having grown up on a farm just outside a small rural Iowa community, but also spending a couple of years living in the midst of a large city, I have found that my small-town roots run deep. I love the inherent safety and calm of the small town, and knowing there isn’t anywhere I can’t walk to inside of 5 minutes. And knowing that the vast majority of faces I see are going to be familiar. Its easy to be known in a small town.
Advice for other rural pastors: The best advice I can give is to throw your expectations out the window. I never know what is going to happen on a day to day basis. Likewise, forget about the idea that “everyone’s the same here.” I’ve learned over and over again that there is a great deal of diversity within the small rural community, even if it might not seem like it at face value. Let yourself slow down, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Life and ministry are a lot more fun if you do.
What I wish people knew about rural ministry: The people are wonderful. And its full of surprises, some good and some not so good. While there are boring days, rural ministry as a whole is anything but boring.
Quirky hobbies: Sometimes I think it feels stereotypical in the Lutheran circles…but over the last two years I’ve become a homebrewer. I’m a bit of a science nerd, and love to speculate on how tweaks in ingredients or processes can create vastly different results. But above all, there’s nothing better about popping open a bottle of beer that you made and taking that first sip.
Follow Rev. Scott Dalen on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sdalen. He regularly posts as your "Friendly Internet Pastor" and he's got lots of good things to say.