Brimming with enthusiasm and with a keen eye on a future filled with vitality, Rev. David Doppenberg marks the 25th anniversary of his ordination.
Doppenberg currently serves as senior pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids and the congregation there will honor him with a cake and ice cream reception following the 8:30 and 10 a.m. June 16 services.
With characteristic humility, Doppenberg praised colleagues and the congregation for his quarter-century of service in the ministry.
“In any vocation, you can never do it alone,” said Doppenberg. “My greatest joy is the people, the staff, the community … We have exceptional leaders and a cohesiveness you won’t find everywhere.”
“And the 25 years – that’s God’s grace – I’m no more or less a sinner than anyone else.”
Doppenberg’s journey to ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America began during his boyhood years spent growing up on a dairy farm near Brandon, S.D.
“I always knew I wanted to go into the ministry,” he said.
However, it wasn’t until he neared his high school years that he told his father of his desire, according to Doppenberg.
“He said, ‘No, you don’t want to do that. Too many bosses.’ But still, I felt it was what I wanted to do,” said Doppenberg.
Even while he studied agricultural business at South Dakota State University, Doppenberg was involved with Lutheran Campus Ministry and became part of that ministry’s Joy Folk group.
The call to ministry just couldn’t be ignored, Doppenberg said, and after earning his bachelor of science degree at the university he began studying at Luther Seminary in St. Paul and was ordained in 1988.
“I was part of the first graduating class into the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America),” Doppenberg said.
The newly ordained minister served first at Zion Lutheran Church in Aberdeen, S.D., then for a short time in St. Cloud during a transition period at the University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany before serving as senior pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Annandale.
Then, seven years ago, Doppenberg became senior pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids.
Over the past quarter-century, Doppenberg has witnessed dramatic changes in the church and in the society it serves. But his mission remains the same, he said.
“My mission is always: how can we be real and follow Jesus – live in that grace and love and share that,” Doppenberg said.
“My greatest joy in ministry is to see what God’s grace does in people’s lives – giving purpose, comfort, continued growth in becoming grace-filled, grace-giving.”
As for the greatest need, Doppenberg said “to be real people who follow Jesus and have that sense of grace, love, order and guidance at the center of life.”
Doppenberg said that he and the team at Faith strive to form ongoing Christian communities and rather than simply host events, strive to establish lasting relationships.
“Events won’t create ongoing Christian community, but relationships – who we are in relationship with and for each other – that’s creating ongoing community,” he said.
The ultimate relationship is one with Christ, Doppenberg said.
Some of the relationship building activities at Faith include the annual Share Fest (the proceeds of which are donated to help feed the hungry), Family Table meals, Thanksgiving meals served to community members and Family Promise of Anoka County (in which Faith serves to provide shelter for families experiencing homelessness).
Its global ministry has Faith providing service and ministry in Costa Rica and partnering with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (a Spanish-speaking congregation in Minneapolis) to participate in events happening in that church’s diverse congregation and community.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org