Pastor Kevin Draper of St. John's Lutheran Church and School bids farewell to Sleepy Eye. His last sermon will be on Monday, Aug. 19.
Originally from Flint, Mich., Kevin and his family came to the community of Sleepy Eye six years ago after Kevin graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisc.
During his time here, Kevin said he has enjoyed delivering the various sermons for the church, teaching Bible classes, coordinating the seventh and eighth grade confirmation program, attending meetings, participating in outreach, leading Bible groups and being a part of St. John's Lutheran School where he held the title of principal at one time.
"I really enjoyed being part of the school and living in the small community of Sleepy Eye," Kevin noted.
He added that he was very active in the day-to-day activities of the school, enjoyed reading books to the lower grades and sitting down and eating lunch with the students.
"Leaving the ministry it might seem like there is a conflict," Kevin said. "But I was told even before I began studying for the ministry that no matter what happens, my time studying is not wasted and that's true. I have grown tremendously through not only my studying, but also in the six years that I have spent here."
Before going into the ministry Kevin was in the computer programing field, working at IBM. He plans to use his experience as a pastor and his technical skills in the computer programming field to develop programs that may be useful for pastors.
Kevin and his wife, Sallie, plan to settle in New Ulm where their three children, Stanley (a freshman at Carlton College), Luke (a sophomore at Minnesota Valley Lutheran) and Benjamin (an eighth grade student at St. Paul's), can continue their studies.
While a permanent pastor has not been appointed to fill the vacancy just yet, Kevin added that a vacancy pastor will take over his duties until someone can be found to fill the spot.
Kevin said each church has different guidelines for replacing pastors. He went on to explain that when he graduated from the seminary he was assigned by the conference of presidents to Sleepy Eye. But after the initial assignment, he said, the Wisconsin Synod will give St. John's church a list of qualified candidates to call until a person is found to fill the position.
"When a pastor is serving in one congregation and receives a call to serve somewhere else, he has to decide where his gifts would make the best fit," Kevin said, adding that it could take several months to a year to fill the vacancy.
Kevin said one of the accomplishments he is most proud of is that he was able to bring peace to St. John's.
Page 2 of 2 - "One thing that people have consistently assured me of, is that tensions have been resolved and there is peace and a closeness in the church that the congregation didn't feel before," Kevin said. "That makes me feel good that I've accomplished something in that way."