Archived Story

Interim pastor returns to her roots to lead churches [UPDATED]

Published 9:20am Thursday, August 16, 2012 Updated 11:21am Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zion Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls will soon be looking for a new pastor, but in the meantime, many of the pastoral duties have been taken over by interim pastor Nancy Eldredge Hess.

Hess grew up in Fergus Falls, but she left after graduating from Fergus Falls High School to study at Luther Seminary in St. Paul and Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. She also studied and did mission work in South Africa in the late 1970s during the height of apartheid.

“It was an amazing cultural experience,” Hess said. “To be there in the height of apartheid was a real learning experience. It altered my theology and changed my way of thinking. It was life-changing for me.”

With a revised personal understanding of her beliefs, Hess decided to get her doctorate in systematic theology and theological ethics.

After moving back to the U.S., Hess lived in New Hampshire, and her husband lived in Boston.

“We both decided it was ridiculous, and we came to Minnesota to live in Roseville,” she said.

It wasn’t long before Hess’ husband was offered a job at PioneerCare in Fergus Falls.

“He is from upstate New York, and he was the one that ended up getting the job in Fergus Falls,” Hess said.

Within two weeks of her husband accepting the job at PioneerCare, Hess was contacted by the Bishop and asked to be interim pastor of Zion Lutheran Church and Hedemarken Lutheran Church in Carlisle.

“I love being back in Fergus Falls,” she said. “I have family, relatives and some of my best childhood friends still living here. I had been away for 38 years, and it’s great to still have friends that are so close.”

As the interim pastor, Hess wants to carry on successful church services while creating a strategic plan that will be used to find the pastor that best suits the needs of the church.

Hess will help the church carry out several analyses that will help the church know what they will be looking for when they start the call process of finding and interviewing potential pastors.

Although nobody knows when Zion will choose a pastor, Hess has committed to the church until the process is complete.

“The church has been so warm and gracious,” Hess said. “It’s been a blessing to come here.”

While she doesn’t know what the future will bring, Hess said she might be open to the idea of becoming an interim pastor for another church with the need.

“I have enjoyed doing interim ministry,” she said. “If the bishop asks me to do another one, I would seriously consider it.”

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