Pastor?s story is one to share

I didn?t enter the world of journalism until the fall of my sophomore year in college. My high school had a journalism program, but I was always involved in choir, so I never thought about taking it.

I entered college with the plan to be a business major. Why? I?m not really sure, except it just seemed logical. Most jobs involve business, right? But after attending one business class, I made haste to change my schedule.

I briefly debated majoring in psychology, with thoughts of becoming a school counselor. The human brain interests me, and I enjoy listening to people, but the road to that type of career was a bit daunting for someone just starting college. I took intro level courses in psychology and sociology, but neither showed true promise for a career.

My psych professor suggested I take a look at communications. I met with a department professor, who encouraged me to take a mass media writing course. A few weeks in, after I got the hang of succinct vs. long and lengthy, I was smitten.

And the rest, folks, is history.

My journalism professor quickly became one of my favorites. I was excited about my classes and about my career choice. And in a way, I still get to use some psychology. Everyone has a story to tell; it?s my job to ask the right questions to get to the story.

One of the first stories I wrote after taking my job at the Free Press was about a man who was passionate about genealogy. He talked to me for more than two hours. Then I waded through my notes and voice recording to craft a story that would fit in the paper.

I love journalism, but features are some of my favorites. I love to tell stories.

So here?s another:

In 1988, Gaylord Goertzen arrived in Hillsboro with his wife, Peggy, and their four children. Gaylord had been asked to accept the pastoral role at Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church, which happened to be the church home of my husband?s family. When the Goertzens came, my husband was just finishing kindergarten.

Gaylord plans to retire Sept. 29 after 25 years of service at Ebenfeld. While the numbers are astounding?he has performed 68 weddings, 85 funerals, 102 baptisms and more than 100 baby dedications (for which he also wrote poems for each child)?I?m more touched by his personal connection to his congregation and the community. (Yep, stories will always win over numbers for me, hands-down.)

For the past 10 years, I have called Ebenfeld my church home. I became a member the spring after Brad and I were married. And in that time, I’ve never felt more loved by a pastoral couple.

They prayed for our first pregnancy after a sonogram showed a cyst on our baby’s brain. Even though they were on sabbatical in California, they would send encouraging emails. When our oldest went to Kansas City for her splenectomy almost three years ago, they drove to KU Medical Center and sat with us in the waiting room.

Gaylord has counseled me in areas of struggle. He let me be frank about my anger over the death of my brother and the fear I carried about losing my own children. And then later, he sat with me as I shared my grieving heart after I went through an ectopic pregnancy and then a miscarriage?and then rejoiced after the birth of our baby boy.

Life hasn?t always been easy for Gaylord, either, and I think that?s why he has such empathy for hurting people. He has a strength that can only be found in weakness?and he is a hero of my faith walk.

So, Gaylord and Peggy, as you leave your leadership role at Ebenfeld, ?May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, may the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.? Amen.

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