Religion and Pastor Erv.

I've yet to post about religion on this blog, so I hope it doesn't deter readers. However, stay with me; this isn't a post about my religious beliefs, or the scripture, or a persuasion to be a believer.

I just want to tell you about someone that was very influential to me in my formative years. This person was also very supportive to my sister and I when my brother became a paraplegic and was recovering in the hospital.

I want to tell you about Pastor Erv, the former pastor and Luther League sponsor at my hometown church in Maynard, Iowa.

I have known Pastor Erv for just about as long as I can remember. He'd been the pastor at our church from the time I was about 6 or 7 years old to beyond the time I graduated high school. I saw Pastor Erv regularly.

Not because my family went to church every Sunday, but because he was always involved in the lives of the community. He had coffee in the mornings at the Casey's gas station in Maynard with my dad, grandma and grandpa - every morning. He came to all of our athletic events, music concerts, and fine arts events at the high school. He was invited to my grandparent's house on several occasions for family gatherings. In every sense, he was a part of our family. I can imagine he was a part of several families in the Maynard area. To us, Pastor Erv wasn't just our pastor that lead church services - he was a normal guy who cared about each and every person in the community. Whether he knew it or not, he as especially important to the young people who gathered every week in his confirmation classes and Luther League group.

Pastor Erv made joining Luther League fun. It was just like any other club or organization offered at the high school, but Luther League had a purpose. We served the community. My desire as an adult to volunteer and serve the school district where I teach and the community in which I reside has undoubtedly stemmed from my years of service under Pastor Erv. He and the other parents involved in supervising our Luther League showed me and my friends the importance and benefits of service. Then, the motive of service was for Christ, now my motive is simple: Serving others is the right thing to do.

Period.

We also went on trips that Pastor Erv organized. He wasn't fearful to take us to Christian youth group retreats in Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, or to his mountain home in Colorado, or to a lock-in at his home. (Well, maybe his wife, Marie, was apprehensive about welcoming a group of rowdy kids into her home, but if she was, she didn't show it!)

He gave us experiences that we would never have the opportunity to have otherwise. Pastor Erv saw his role as giving us a closer relationship with God, and while he may have succeeded in doing that, he also succeeded in building relationships with our peers, our parents, and our community.

That was why it was so hard to see him retire and move with Marie to his home in the Rocky Mountains.

Even though I had already graduated college and was only coming back to see him at services during holiday breaks from school, it was hard to let go of such a formative person from my teen years.

I consider myself very, very lucky to have grown up with a such strong individual. Granted, I may not be the most resilient in my faith today, but I do recognize and appreciate the impact Pastor Erv made on my life as a spiritual adult today.

I can only hope that the teens I encounter each day in my English classroom have a person - religious leader or not - that encourages positive growth and service to their community.

Lord knows they need it, right?

Over and out.


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