After a two-year wait, Presbyterian Church of the Master, Coon Rapids, has a new senior pastor at its helm.
Rev. John Gay began as the church’s senior pastor in October 2012.
Prior to that, Rev. Richard Townsend-Anderson had served as interim pastor after Rev. David R. Bierschwale had left as the church’s senior pastor in November 2009.
For Gay, the transition and fit at Presbyterian Church of the Master is a good one.
Gay left his previous church in upstate New York in March 2012 and decided to take his time before moving his family, which includes his wife and five children, across states again.
So Gay began looking at metropolitan areas throughout the country to find something that would be a good fit for the family and that also had good medical care, as the Gays’ youngest child has spina bifida.
“We thought Minneapolis/St. Paul would be great,” Gay said.
After talking with church members leading the search for a new pastor, “I knew and I think they all knew, too,” Gay said.
What everyone knew was that Gay and the church were a good fit, something that was solidified when Gay came to preach in Coon Rapids in September 2012.
“We were here within a month after that,” Gay said.
“We love it.”
Gay, who is completing his doctorate in ministry and describes himself as a “pretty conservative guy,” said that the biggest change is adjusting to living in a larger city.
The transition to leading a new congregation has gone well.
“We are refocusing on making disciples here and sending them out into the world,” Gay said.
“We’re a pretty neat congregation. I’m so excited to be here.”
Gay said he brings a different vibe to the church, in part because of his upbringing.
He was raised an atheist after being baptized in the Lutheran church, according to Gay.
Gay has no memory of attending church after the age of five, he said.
Gay joined the Navy and was an officer. He credits this experience with helping him as a church leader.
Eventually, Gay said he and his wife found Christ.
After losing his job following the birth of his second son, Gay said his pastor suggested to go to the seminary, a sentiment echoed by his wife.
“From that day things looked up,” he said.
“I grew up outside the church so I know how empty it can be. I want people to know how they are blessed by God and how it changes everything.”
Presbyterian Church of the Master is Gay’s third church.
“I love to preach. I love to teach,” Gay said.
While he loves those aspects of leading a church, Gay said the most moving part of his job is being with families during really important moments, like deaths, weddings and baptisms.
As for what is ahead for Presbyterian Church of the Master, Gay said the church is on the verge of really starting to change the community in and around the church.
It has adopted the neighboring Compass school.
Presbyterian Church of the Master is located at 789 Northdale Blvd. N.W.
Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]