NEWS FLASH! What a New Pastor Cannot Do!

May 30, 2013

The following story was mailed out in the June, 2013 “Visitor” Newsletter.

News Flash: “New Pastor!”

Sunday, April 28, 2013.

First Presbyterian Church Luverne, Minnesota. ParkingLot-B

The church parking lot was more than full. The sanctuary was too. Two hundred name tags were not enough. Excitement filled the air. Every breath tasted the anticipation. Five weeks ago this congregation called a new Teaching Elder (Pastor), Rev. Jason Cunningham. What a great day April 28th was when we called him. (CLICK HERE for photos and story).DSCN1115

Afterward, you could feel the sense of release and relief. The anxious months (only 8) had seemed so long. Yet having an interim would have seemed even longer. From here we can see new beginnings! Now it just feels good to be at the beginning of the end. All feels fresh.

Why does NOT having a pastor feel so uneasy? When the Pastoral Office is vacant there is a level of tension that we feel. We have trouble finding the words. Tense? Anxious? Unsure? Drifting? Abandoned?

Quiz: Fill-in the blank.

A church without a pastor is like ___________.”

  • A Ship without a sail? A Plane without a pilot? A family without a leader? ?????????????

Now, before Pastor Jason arrives, and we slide back for a Sunday afternoon nap, I need to say some things. Allow me as a duly qualified old preacher and old man offer some frank reminders on the following topic:

What a Pastor (New or Old) Cannot Do!”

While a pastor can do many things, (some neat and others almost amazing), there are many things a pastor cannot do. The following are a few that come to mind:

  1. A pastor cannot make a congregation grow. All labor, but God gives the increase (I Cor. 3:6-7). Not just numbers, but spirit and strength.

  2. A pastor cannot make everyone happy. First of all, this is not a pastor’s job. Secondly, Jesus had a lot to say about happiness (or ‘blessedness,” Matthew 5: 3-11). Finally, I agree with Abe Lincoln, “Folks are about as happy as they want to be.”

  3. A pastor cannot always tell you what you want to hear. “Speaking the truth in love” may be an uncomfortable challenge. (Ephesians 4:15)

  4. A pastor cannot be good at everything. Every human being has strengths and weaknesses. Pastors are human beings. God already knows that and calls them anyway. (example: Moses in Exodus 6:28 – 7:7)

  5. A pastor cannot always “be fair.” While ‘fairness’ is an important ideal to follow, God’s grace, mercy, and steadfast love are not fair. God gives us what we need, not what we deserve or can afford

  6. A pastor cannot remember everything. You know that really important message that you told the pastor when you shook hands with him going out of church, WELL, he forgot it before you got to your car. Next time give him a note and your phone number to call for more info.

Now, here are TEN Ways you can help your PASTOR (Christ’s Church and yourself):

  1. Remember that Prayer is the greatest path to the power and presence of God.
  2. Remember that servant hood is the highest greatness.We have seen much servant leadership in the last 8 months.I have been proud to see church members step up to all the work and responsibilities without a pastor. “Get ‘er dun!” has been the motto for so many in recent times. That ownership is essential to being Christ’s church, with or without a pastor.
  3. Remember that funerals offer our best “picture window” on eternity. True both in the worship and the fellowship meal. And may we all be promoted to kitchen-help at the Heavenly Banquet.
  4. Remember that Communion is our greatest supper. All other meals are just practice.
  5. Remember that Baptism is our greatest symbol of death and life.
  6. Remember that Love is the greatest act.
  7. Remember that the church does not belong to the pastor. For that matter, neither does it belong the congregation. In the biblical model, the church belongs to God, who has appointed Christ as its head. We as believers are Christ’s body. The word for church is ecclesia meaning the “called-out ones.” We are the assembly of the called-out ones who gather to worship. He died for us and as his body, we live for him. For a Pastor to be truly successful, we as members of Christ’s body, as leaders in the church, need to come to grips with this truth and live it out daily. DSCN1151
  8. Remember, while a pastor is a shepherd, the LORD is our shepherd, and Christ is the Good Shepherd. We are to look always to God’s provision for us all. In every moment of life this is true. A pastor is but an imperfect reminder of the Holy One who loves us and embraces us in each moment of life.
  9. Remember that the pastor is a leader but Christ is the Founder of the Church. So we always have our Founder, even when we may be without a leader.
  10. Remember to keep your sense of humor. “Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.”

 “Blessed new beginnings.”

Rev. Dan Leininger

Visitation pastor




2013 High School Graduates Honored by Luverne Presbyterian Church

May 16, 2013

Ten 2013 Graduates of Luverne High School were recognized in the Worship Services last Sunday.  The graduates included: Presley Akkerman, Sydney Boelman, Katie Eeten, Mannuel Olson, Emily Robinson, Jonathan Solma, Jordan Stengenga, Joseph Vajgrt, Casey VanEngelenhoven, and Kaitlin Wohnoutka.  A special breakfast held before the service included parents and grandparents of the graduates.


Casey VanEngelenhoven, Jonathan Solma, Katie Eeten, Emily Robinson, Jordan Stengenga, Kaitlin Wohnoutka, Presley Akkerman, and Sydney Boelman.


Boelman Scholarships were announced for three of the graduates from an Endowment set up by George and Cornelia Boelman in 1991.  This years recipients were Sydney Boelman, Katie Eeten, and Jordan Stengenga.

On behalf of Presbyterian Women, Linda Gulden presented each graduate with a hand-knitted afghan.  Love and prayers in every stitch.  And the blessings of the congregation for their futures.

SENIORS BREAKFAST PHOTOS:  [nggallery id=16]






2013 Confirmation Class Presented and Honored

May 9, 2013

The 2013 Confirmation Class of Luverne Presbyterian Church was recognized on Sunday by the congregationTravis Pierce served as their teacher throughout the year. The five who completed their studies are all Ninth Graders this year.  Left to right: Travis Pierce, teacher; Erik Wohnoutka; Jacob Jarchow. Back row; Merrissa Brandt; Ryleigh Beers; and Bailey Rise. (More below).

Confirm Class of 2013: (Front l. to rt.)Travis Pierce, teacher; Erik Wohnoutka; Jacob Jarchow. Back row; Merrissa Brandt; Ryleigh Beers; Bailey Rise

Confirm Class of 2013: (Front l. to rt.)Travis Pierce, teacher; Erik Wohnoutka; Jacob Jarchow. Back row; Merrissa Brandt; Ryleigh Beers; Bailey Rise.  [Photo credit to: Myhre Studios – Luverne MN]

Rev. Jim Kraft led the worship and communion service with the assistance of the confirmands as they read from their presentation Bibles.  Rev. Kraft encouraged the class members and the congregation to live as courageous followers of Christ in daily life.

Our congratulations go out to Erik, Jacob, Merrissa, Ryleigh, and Bailey. Thank You and we are proud of you. 

Thanks as well to Travis Pierce for investing himself and his time in these fine young people.

Pastor Jason Cunningham’s Call ~ Photos of Sunday, Apr 28th

May 2, 2013

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Rev. Jason Cunningham Called as Pastor

May 2, 2013

Greetings from your Pastor Nominating Committee,

Last month I told you that we were well into phase four of our four phase process of finding a new Pastor. Well, I wasn’t lying. On Sunday, April 28, 2013, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Luverne, voted 171 (yes) and 1 (no) to approve the nomination of Reverend Jason Cunningham to fill our vacant pulpit. By accepting the ‘Terms of Call’, Pastor Jason, he will become our new Teaching Elder (Pastor) effective June 9, 2013.

Pastor Jason Cunningham visits with Linda Moeller at fellowship meal

Pastor Jason Cunningham visits with Linda Moeller at fellowship meal

Pastor Jason currently lives in Brookings, South Dakota, and is serving the First Presbyterian Church there. He has served the First Presbyterian Church in Brookings for the past eight (8) years, and First Presbyterian Church, Amboy, MN, for five (5) years prior to his call to Brookings. Pastor Jason grew up in Worthington, Minnesota, and attended the Westminster Presbyterian Church located in Worthington. He attended and graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, with majors in Political Science and Accounting (Pre-Law emphasis). Pastor Jason attended and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Masters in Divinity in 2000. He enjoys reading, bicycling, baseball, and spending time with his family.

DSCN1163Pastor Jason has a beautiful family including his talented wife, Annalisa, and their four children, Carissa 12, Graham 10, Pierce 8, and Colberg 3. The Pastor Nominating Committee was impressed with the musical talent that they all possess. All of the children are inquisitive and had a lot of questions for committee members when we had the pleasure of meetingthem and touring the church.


Pastor Jason and Annalisa Cunningham greet the people  after the Congregational Meeting

Pastor Jason and Annalisa Cunningham greet the people after the Congregational Meeting

Annalisa was born in Milwaukie, Oregon and was raised in Wasilla, Alaska. She returned to the lower 48 states to attend Augustana College where she met Jason. Annalisa majored inbiology and nursing. During their time in Brookings, Annalisa continued her education and received her Master’s Degree in Nursing and is currently a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP). She currently works part-time at the Sanford Clinic in Brookings. Annalisa enjoys several hobbies including music, piano, cooking, gardening, and sewing. We were impressed with how approachable she is and how easy she is to visit with. Lastly, Annalisa is teaching her children how to play the piano and gives piano lessons in her spare time.

DSCN1169-BCarissa, age 12, is completing her 6thgrade. She is considered the athlete of the family and enjoys sports and outdoor activities. She enjoys baseball, softball, and basketball. She also enjoys baking cupcakes, actually anything related to cupcakes. She plays the French horn.

Graham, age 10, is completing his 5thgrade. He loves to read and is a big fan of Tolkien’s “the Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings.” Graham is currently in Boy Scouts. He enjoys Lego’s and is learning to play the Trombone.

Pierce, age 8, is completing his 3rdgrade. He is considered the jokester of the family. Pierce is learning how to play chess and is very interested in the game. He also loves baseball. He is also learning to play the violin. Like his brother, he also enjoys Lego’s.

Cole and all the children seemed to feel right at home.

Cole and all the children seemed to feel right at home.

Colberg (Cole) is 3 years old. He adds a lot of energy to the family dynamics. He is also learning to play the violin. He enjoys everything that 3 year olds enjoy. He was especiallyimpressed with the elevator in the church and enjoyed riding in it.


Your Pastor Nominating Committee has completed its work and was dissolved at the Congregational Meeting held on April 28, 2013. We are very pleased with the result of our search and the acceptance of our candidate nominee by the congregation. We feel that we have exciting days ahead. Please look for an announcement regarding an ‘Installation’ service for Pastor Jason. This will be planned by our Committee on Ministry and Presbytery to be held in the near future. We will announce the date as soon as we know when itwill be held.

The Pastor Nominating Committee would like to say thank you to our Administrative Assistant, Becky Sehr, for the extraordinary job done during these past eight months while our pulpit was empty. Lacking an Interim Pastor, Becky carried the burden of making many decisions that are normally left to the Head-of-Staff. Becky made this a smooth transition. We also would like to say thank you to all who stepped up to different challenges and gave a little more effort knowing that there was an added burden on their shoulders as well. It was the incredible effort from so many people that kept our church running smoothly. Although our pulpit and the Pastor’s office are once again occupied, we would encourage everyone to continue to give that same effort in the days to come.

A full Pastor Nominating Committee Report was handed out prior to the Congregational Meeting on April 28. If you happened to miss it, you may pick a copy up in the church office. Since this is the last Pastor Nominating Committee edition for the Visitor, your Pastor Nominating Committee would like to thank you for your support and prayers as we managed our way through this process. We are happy with the result and hope that you are as well.

Your Pastor Nominating Committee,

Terrie Gulden (Chair), Dan Iveland (Vice Chair),Becky Eeten (Secretary), Katie Eeten, Ann Robinson,Amanda Van Maanen, Erin Sandstede, Phil Voigt,Todd Wessels, Kathy Knips (Committee on Ministry Liaison)

MAY – Newsletter – “Visitor”

May 1, 2013

CLICK HERE FOR 2013 May  “Visitor” Newsletter



May 1, 2013



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