Pastoral couple finds new home

Messiah Lutheran Church in Amherst will welcome its new pastor on Sunday when the Rev. Karl J. Hester will preside over his first service.

It has been a long, circuitous journey for both Messiah as well as Hester that all began exactly two and half years ago. On Oct. 10, 2016, the church was struck by tragedy when its a longtime pastor Rev. Thomas Teichmann unexpectedly passed away at his Amherst home at age 57.

If there was any silver lining to the devastating loss, it was the recent addition of the Rinas family to the Messiah congregation. Rev. Dave Rinas and his wife Doreen had retired from a life of Christian service in September 2016 as senior pastor of a Lutheran Church in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. They joined the Amherst church just weeks before, never expecting to be thrust back into a leadership position of a church in their retirement.

Rinas immediately offered to serve as the interim minister. It would be 30 months before the Rinases could “retire” again.

In the meantime, Hester had been leading a Lutheran Church across the country in Salem, Oregon, for the previous four years. Unlike Messiah, which had just celebrated its 30th birthday, the cross-country counterpart was nearly a century older, having been incorporated in 1894. It was a well-established fixture in the Salem community.

Aside from having to move across the country, the transition was complicated by the need to find two Lutheran churches searching for new pastors. Hester is married to Rev. Kim Hester, also a Lutheran minister in Salem at a different ministry.

The pastoral couple, who have a four-year-old son, received what would appear to be divine intervention in the form of Rev. Erica Kennedy. A former member of Messiah, Kennedy attended Luther Seminary with Karl Hester. She was well aware of Tom Teichmann’s passing and her former church’s need for a permanent pastor on two fronts.

First, Erica Kennedy joined the Messiah congregation after Lutheran seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Second, she became senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, when the previous minister retired. His name was Rev. David Rinas.

But the circle wasn’t quite completed. Rev. Kim Hester needed a ministry position as well. All the pieces of both puzzles came together when Christ the King Lutheran Church in Nashua called Pastor Kim Hester to serve as their minister the week before. It, apparently, was meant to be.

Nestled amongst the pines off of Route 101, Messiah Lutheran Church is next to the Amherst Garden Center. Their address is 303 Route 101, Amherst, NH, 03031. Christ the King Lutheran Church is located in Nashua at 3 Lutheran Drive, right off NH Route 130.

Both services start at 9:30 a.m.