Sunday, July 12, 2020

A friend to all

Red Oak Grove says goodbye to long-time pastor
It's back to Wisconsin for a converted Minnesotan, Pastor Lindsay (Stolen) Brennan.
She spent the last 7 1/2 years as pastor of a rural congregation at Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church, rural Austin. She says Red Oak Grove reminded her of the church she "grew up in" nearby Edgerton in south central Wisconsin. 
It was a sad day for Pastor Brennan and for her parishioners on Sunday, April 28 as she said goodbye.
Brennan is leaving the parish to accompany her husband to the location of his new job as a packaging engineer for S. C. Johnson of Racine.
It was during those 7 1/2 years that Brennan became a favorite of the farming community that values its church roots.
Red Oak Grove will observe its 160th anniversary this summer and it is likely Brennan will make a return visit at that time.
A call to Red Oak Grove represented Pastor Brennan's first call after completing school at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. She doesn't currently have another pastoral call, but it is something she will likely consider once again.
Red Oak leaders are expected to begin interviewing interim pastors in the near future.
Brennan grew up in a rural Lutheran church in Edgerton, Wis., (Pop. 4,500) said to be one of the oldest established Lutheran churches in America. 
She has two brothers and a sister. Her mother also still resides in Edgerton.
Growing up on a tobacco farm, Brennan also saw her family raise beef cattle and also corn and soybeans. 
Edgerton at one time was tabbed the tobacco capital of the world due to raising the most tobacco per capita in the world. The summer celebration of that community was branded Tobacco Days.
After high school, Brennan attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, graduating with a BA degree in elementary education.
Even though career pointed toward elementary education, many people, including her father, encouraged her to be a minister. She recalls a close friend, Clint Schnekloth, nominating her for a pastoral scholarship before she even applied.
Not having a teaching job, Brennan accepted a volunteer internship with a church in Stillwater. She worked with third and fourth graders. "That was in my wheelhouse," she explained.
After hearing more encouragement about going into the ministry, Brennan said, she decided to attend seminary. "I never was convinced on a pastoral career until my internship year," she says.
Her internship was done at Dawson, Minn. "I worked with some great people there," she says.
The call then came from Red Oak Grove. "I was eager to hit the ground running and dive in," she affirmed.
Pastor Brennan was not afraid to try new things. She renewed the traditional noisy coin offering the first Sunday of each month. The money is then funneled to non-profits who represent people doing good work for others.
"It's really a joy to see the coin offering as a way to serve," she said.
Another new tradition was GIFT (Growing in Faith Together). This trend encouraged eating together, praying together and playing together. 
This interaction between members builds community, claims Brennan. Kids and their parents have encouraged one another to attend these social gatherings, she said.
Brennan is not ruling out accepting another pastoral call. She said she will find some type of temporary job in the meantime.
The ministry has its "ups and downs," says Brennan.  But, she added, she has been pleased with Red Oak's Sunday worship averaging about 55.
Brennan is pleased to say she has made a difference at the church "by thinking outside the box." She especially has enjoyed working with kids and loves to focus on youth.
Rural churches, including Red Oak Grove, are facing struggles. "This is God's church and God will care for God's church," she said. "The church of the future may not be the church of the past," Brennan adds.
For hobbies, Brennan likes to sew and quilt. She picked up the hobby while interning in Dawson.
She and husband Dave also enjoy another family member, their Golden Doodle Emmett.
Her early church motivated Brennan to develop a relationship between her and the choir. "They adopted me," she recalls lovingly. She played the flute and often accompanied the choir.
Pastor Brennan says she will miss the Red Oak congregation plus the partnership developed between Red Oak and First Lutheran and with her ministerium colleagues.
"The time has gone by so fast but now it's time to say goodbye."

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