September 27, 2023

Sharing a pastor

A new faith partnership has been formed in Newton: First Lutheran Church and Newton Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) and are excited with the call of a pastor who will serve both congregations.

Each church found themselves without a pastor, and recognizing there was a shortage of pastors within their own church bodies they looked to their neighbor across the alley, discussed the options, and made plans to call a joint pastor. Many churches have shared musicians, custodians or even administrative assistants in the past. Churches of the same denomination have shared a pastor. But churches of different denominations sharing a pastor? This does not mean that a new denomination of “Lutheran UCC” has been born. The congregations will remain faithful to their worship styles and doctrinal distinctions and anticipate the congregations will share more than a pastor and hope to work together on community service and outreach projects in Newton and Jasper County.

Pastor Kurt Hoover responded to this idea and accepted a joint call from both churches. He started his new position June 1. He will spend half his time at each church.

Pastor Hoover is returning to his own roots. He is a 1975 Newton High School graduate and was raised as a member of First Lutheran Church in Newton. He responded to the call to ministry and attended Luther Seminary after experiencing divorce and remarriage to Barbara. They attended a UCC congregation together. Prior to returning to Newton, Hoover has served two rural Lutheran churches at the same time, but leading two churches of different denominations is new for him and he is welcoming the new opportunities. As a second career pastor, he has been energized by this vocation and is looking forward to many years of ministry here in Newton. Pastor Hoover and his wife, Barbara, are excited to live in Newton and serve these two distinct congregations, and practice their faith in Newton.