Healing the hearts
New pastor helps grieving congregation ‘carry on’
The Rev. Kendall Meyer, the new head pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge, skipped the dark shirt and collar on a recent day in his office to instead wear a bright blue “Saints” polo shirt along with several strings of blue and gray Mardi Gras beads.
It’s not that he doesn’t take his job seriously. He does, but on that particular day, he was going to lead a pep rally for the St. Paul Lutheran School students.
He also takes that seriously.
He enjoys working with students and the school was part of the reason he accepted the call to come to Fort Dodge from his previous congregation at the Lutheran Church of St. John in Quincy, Illinois.
“I also wanted to get back into a school setting,” he said. “I’m going to work as much as I can with the students.”
He also missed Iowa. He was a pastor at several congregations including Gloria Dei Lutheran in Des Moines and Mt. Olive Lutheran, which also had a school.
“We love Iowa,” he said. “We felt a little out in the wilderness in Quincy. We were looking forward to getting back to Iowa.”
Meyer knows he’s become the leader for a congregation that’s still very much grieving over the loss of the Rev. Al Henderson, who was killed on Oct. 2.
Henderson had been planning his retirement when he was killed and Meyer had been working with him for about a month prior to make the transition.
“I had already accepted the call,” he said. “We talked every day. We were friends since 2005.”
Henderson had shared much of his vision with Meyer for the future.
“I thank God for that,” Meyer said. “To have those four weeks, he shared his dreams for St. Paul and the school. I thank God I had that experience. I’m grieving too, we’re grieving together.”
Meyer, like almost anyone who knew Henderson, has a favorite story to share.
“On the golf course,” he said. “When he’d make a good shot, he would bark like a bulldog.”
Meyer is helping the congregation heal with a series of sermons based on Henderson’s much-loved catch phrase, “Carry On.”
“We know what the words mean,” he said. “How do we go on about doing that? We read Joshua, Chapter 1. God gives us some clues there about how we can go about carrying on.”
Meyer felt the call to the ministry early in life.
“When I was 16,” he said. “I felt a call. I went to meet with my pastor in St. Louis. He told me when you’re in seminary you have to take Greek and Hebrew. I was having a hard time with German. In 1995 I decided to pursue it. I found out Greek and Hebrew are dead languages, you just have to be able to translate it. The door was open and I knew where the Lord wanted me to go.”
He graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.
He remains a St. Louis Cardinals fan.
Meyer has been married to his wife, Lynn, “for 25 years in January.”
They have three children, Michaela, a college freshman, Ben, a junior in high school and Abigail, a freshman in high school. His family will be joining him in Fort Dodge after their school year is finished.
They also enjoy the company of two boxers, Mya and Keesha.
Meyer is looking forward to being a member of the community.
“I love talking with people and getting to know them,” he said. “I’m looking forward to becoming part of the fabric of Fort Dodge.”
Meyer’s faith is deep and he believes in its healing power.
“The Lord will lead us through this tragedy and we will continue to do what we’re called to do,” he said. “We will carry on.”