By Jen Bakken
In October, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Delano welcomed the Rev. Richard (Dick) Flynn as its new pastor.
He was the pastor for First Congregational Church of Christ in Marysville, Ohio for the past eight years. Having history with a congregation of 150 members, as well as 24 years as a youth p astor, Flynn brings a multitude of experience with him to the Delano church.
Originally from Chicago, he received his master of arts in theology, with a specialty in youth ministry, from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena Calif., and his master of divinity from Methodist Theological Seminary in Ohio.
“I came here for family,” explained Pastor Flynn. “My son is here, my daughter plans to be.”
His wife, Deborah, is still living in Ohio to fulfill one more year on her teaching contract. Though this separation from his wife of 36 years is difficult, he thinks of soldiers serving overseas who are also separated from their loved ones.
“There are men and women, away from their families, serving our country in dangerous circumstances,” Flynn said. “I may be apart from my family, but I can’t complain, and I’m grateful for all those serving our country.”
The couple is hoping to have their whole family living in Minnesota soon. Currently, their son, Gabe, and his wife, Hilary, are co-youth directors for Wayzata Lutheran Church, but their daughter, Jessica, lives in Chicago.
Looking to move to the Twin Cities soon, Jessica, a social worker and her husband, Bill, a history teacher, are expecting their first child, any day.
“Every time the phone rings, I run,” laughed the soon-to-be grandpa.
Since 1879, the building at 201 Buffalo Street in Delano has welcomed worshipers, and it is Pastor Flynn’s hope the small congregation will grow. He considers himself a liberal pastor, and said he is enjoying getting to know the members of his church.
A community of faith that seeks to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed is how the United Church of Christ (UCC) describes itself.
Founded in 1957, as the union of several different Christian traditions, its motto is, “that they may all be one,” according to the UCC web site. They have a unique advertising campaign underway entitled, “God is still speaking,” which includes TV commercials announcing, “Jesus didn’t turn people away, neither do we.”
This message is something Pastor Flynn feels strongly about.
“We will try to make anyone feel comfortable and welcome,” he said. “Our niche is how accepting we are.”
With many visions and goals for the church, he is trying to help the congregation grow by increasing its visibility, improving the church web site, and developing more programs for families with young children.
“If you are looking for a church where you will be accepted wherever you are in your spiritual journey, our doors are always open,” Flynn said.
At St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Sunday worship services begin at 9:15 a.m., with Sunday school following at 10:30 a.m.
You don’t have to be a member to have weddings or funerals at the church, or to take part in communion, which is offered the first Sunday of each month.
For more information regarding the United Church of Christ and its practices, visit www.ucc.org.