By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Deacon David Taylor was recently called by the congregation at St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake to serve them as an associate pastor.
He will be ordained and installed Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m. by the Rev. Dr. Dean Nadasdy, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), MN South District. Pastors from all over Wright County will be in attendance.
“I’ve always been a pastor, but never ordained,” Taylor noted about his background in the church.
Upon his retirement from the city of Plymouth’s engineering division, Taylor, who is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Buffalo, approached the LCMS about serving as a pastor.
He was told he would have to be a deacon first for two years, so Taylor became a licensed deacon in July 2010, and was assigned to St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake.
Soon after he began his work as deacon at the church, Taylor started the Carpenter’s Network, which assists local people with job searches.
After Pastor Martin Schoenfeld was called to serve another church last spring, St. James Lutheran Church needed additional pastoral support, and Taylor was called to serve.
In order to be ordained, Taylor had to pass an examination before the colloquy, a board of five seminary professors at St. Louis, MO, which he passed.
“Our church (LCMS) is facing a pastoral shortage, so it is looking at other ways of getting pastors,” Taylor said of the church, which typically calls pastors who have gone through one of LCMS’s seminaries.
He noted that the LCMS is expecting to lose about 4,000 pastors in the next eight years.
Although the church is facing a pastoral shortage, Taylor has noticed people who had become “water, rice, and dirt church-goers” only attending for baptisms, weddings, and funerals attending more frequently.
“There is a hunger for the gospel, and people are coming back to the church,” Taylor said. “Ministry is the whole gamut of life the cycle of life and people need a church home for that.
“I want everyone to know that your personal Saviour, Jesus Christ, loves you very much,” he added. “Everyone needs a church home, and St. James has much to offer your family.”
In addition to Sunday worship, St. James Lutheran offers Bible studies, a place for teens to hang out, choir, praise band, a food bank, a school serving students from preschool through eighth grade, and programs to help the community.
As associate pastor, he will be assisting Senior Pastor Michael Nirva, preaching about 10 sermons each month, teaching confirmation at St. James Lutheran School, and visiting shut-ins at care centers and area farms.
In the past, Taylor has worked as an engineering project manager for ConocoPhillips in Seattle, and as a fire protection engineer with the Alaska State Fire Marshal’s office.
He was also a firefighter with the Anchorage Fire Department, and an Air Force medic during the Vietnam War.
Having always been interested in learning more about the Bible, Taylor attended Western Reformed Seminary in Tacoma, WA in the 1980s and ‘90s, eventually receiving a master’s of religion degree.
He served as the pastor of Fall City Lutheran Mission in Washington from 1993-95, and as an evening chaplain at the Tacoma Seafarer’s Center.
Currently, Taylor lives in Buffalo with Linda, his wife of 42 years, and his dog, Lassie.
His daughter, Julie lives nearby with her husband, Mike Newman, and their children, Hunter and Leah.
Taylor enjoys working on his 1916 house, which was a Presbyterian parsonage in the 1920s, and taking his dog for long walks around Buffalo Lake.
St. James Lutheran Church has about 1,300 members, and 130 students attend St. James Lutheran School.
About 400 people attend worship services Sunday mornings.
Serving St. James Lutheran in the spirit of the “tentmaker ministry (2 Thessalonians 3:6-14 ESV),” this associate pastor position was crafted for someone who is self-supporting financially, and receiving proper benefits.
Taylor will not receive compensation or benefits from the church in his position as associate pastor. He receives his finances and benefits through his retirement.