BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN It didn’t take long for the Rev. Christina “Stina” Koppes and her family to feel welcome at Delano United Methodist Church, where she became pastor June 25.
“People here love their church,” Koppes said. “They love Delano and are so excited to welcome us to Delano.”
The feeling is mutual.
“I think this church is amazing,” Koppes said. “I’m so excited to be their pastor.”
Koppes is returning to pastoral work after taking six years of family leave to care for her son James.
“Last year, we started the discernment process about what was going on in our lives,” Koppes said of herself and her husband Chad. “We realized it was time to come back.”
Koppes had first come to Minnesota as an associate pastor at a church in Woodbury in 2005. Then, Stina and Chad co-pastored a church in Minneapolis, leading up to Stina’s family leave, at which point Chad decided to get a different day job.
The two had met at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey, just “a half hour down the road” from Rutgers University, where Koppes had been studying and working before she felt called to ministry.
“I had gone back to volunteer at a church camp in Michigan, where I had worked in college,” Koppes said, referencing her time at Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH. “I was volunteering during a week when a lot of my favorite pastors were there. At the time one of them said, ‘Hey, I need a youth pastor. Would you come to Michigan and be my youth pastor?’ I looked at him kind of funny. I’d never thought about having a job in that way before.”
Koppes didn’t take that job.
“But, it sort of created a snowball effect where, suddenly, as I was thinking and praying about it, I realized, ‘Well, gosh, there’s nothing I’ve ever loved doing more than what I’m doing right now at camp. Why am I not doing this with the rest of my life?’”
After discerning and talking it over with her pastor and friends, she decided she did, in fact, want to be a pastor, leading her to Princeton.
Fast forward a few years, and Koppes believes she has found a good fit in Delano.
“In the Methodist system, you don’t choose where your job is, but because they asked a lot about the things I was interested in and kind of where my heart is, and they know the churches better than I do, they said they think this one is a good fit,” Koppes said. “I think they did a great job. It’s exciting.”
Koppes is most impressed by how members of her congregation serve the community.
“It’s been awesome to see how much pride people take in their community and their church,” Koppes said. “I’ve never been a part of a church before that has a seamless blend between church life and community life.”
She is working to be in tune with what is happening in the church before trying to establish a personal vision for the church.
“I like to take time to know how the Holy Spirit is working,” Koppes said.
That not only applies to the church as a whole, but the individual members, as well.
“I do believe strongly that everyone is created in the image of God, and God’s spirit is at work in all of us,” Koppes said.
She is looking forward to the work ahead.
“It really is about how God is at work right now,” Koppes said. “I try to pay attention to what the present moment has to bring.”