As you may or may not know, we United Methodist pastors are appointed year to year to serve a local church. What this means in practicality is that at any time we can be asked to move to another area and another church community. It is a system that we agree to serve in through our ordination vows.
Ten and a half years ago, I received a call from the appointive cabinet to serve the Kalona United Methodist Church and by extension the Kalona community. Wow, 10 years, that is a long time for us to stay in one appointment, yet Jodi and I are grateful to have been members of this community for all of these years.
Marking this milestone, we decided to look back and see what has changed and what remained the same.
Following our move to Kalona in June 2009, we discovered a warm and wonderful community to be a part of and to serve. It has been our joy to help provide leadership and service to both Kalona United Methodist Church, our community and to the Mid-Prairie Community School District.
During our time here, we have been privileged to oversee numerous improvements to the church and its property, including new parking facilities that are used by both the church and the community; new lighting; a remodel of the basement and many other improvements to the church building itself.
More important than the physical improvement Kalona United Methodist Church has become a meeting place for many groups and ministries that both strengthen our faith and our community.
It has always been my belief that the church should be at the center of a community and is uniquely placed to serve the needs of those in its area. Through the years we have been blessed to partnered with other groups to serve those who are in need of food, clothing, coats and coats for those in need.
Kalona United Methodist Church has provided space for service groups to meet, quilters to have meetings and work together, blood drives and other organizations that meet the public need. Through generosity of time, gifts and love the church has helped support Food for All, the Backpack Lunches, the Sunday Suppers, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Elements Youth Program and many other organizations which help make a town a community.
On the personal side of things, Jodi and I have had the pleasure of serving our community on a number of committees, including but not limited to design of the new YMCA, planning and volunteering with RAGBRAI and working at the State Fair booth.
Yet while all of this is important to me and my family, that is not what matters most to us. What we have hoped and prayed for is that in us people would have seen a family that loves and serves both God and neighbor to the best of our ability. Have we succeeded? Not always, but then there is always grace for those failures.
Yet all in all as we look back, the past 10 years has blessed us with many friends and fellow sojourners on the path of life and faith. We hope that you, too, will walk that path and continue to share in the goodness that is Kalona.
Rev. Dr. Gerry and Jodi Kahler