FAIRMONT - It’s a question that Pastor Hagen has been repeatedly asked during the past month. “I introduce myself, and someone always asks: ‘Oh, you’re at Shepherd of the Lakes? What happened to Pastor Bendix?”
Bendix, the much-loved former pastor at Shepherd of the Lakes, now serves St. Paul Lutheran Church in New Ulm. And, by all accounts, Hagen has big shoes to fill.
“Pastor Bendix was quite involved in the community. He was president of the Lions’ Club, he regularly wrote for the Sentinel’s Opinion page, and he’s led Shepherd of the Lakes through the early stages of planning a new building.”
Shepherd of the Lakes has purchased the two-acre trailer court by the Dairy Freeze on Albion Ave. With this large project continuing through the next few years, Pastor Hagen is grateful for his thorough education. He earned his B.A. through Martin Luther College (New Ulm, MN) and his M. Div. through Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (Mequon, WI). “In the Wisconsin Synod, pastors spend eight years learning & reading Greek and six years on Hebrew. A solid foundation in the original languages helps prepare a guy to apply God’s Word in different situations.”
For Pastor Hagen, those “different situations” included serving in a foreign country. He interned at a church on the west edge of Toronto, where he met his wife. After graduating in 2011, Pastor and Desiree spent two years at a large church in downtown Ottawa. “My wife is originally from Toronto, so the move to Ottawa wasn’t a big change. I’m thankful for those years in the downtown of Canada’s capital city. I’m really grateful that the congregation was understanding as I learned the ropes.” “And,” he added with a smile, “my associate mentored me in some of the finer points.”
Originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, Pastor Hagen and his wife are excited about living in Fairmont. Desiree, a ballet teacher by trade, also loves to serve within the church and community. “She’s a great Sunday School teacher, very thorough, and she connects well with the kids. Just last week Desiree helped coach soccer at a church camp up in Danube.”
Like his predecessor, Pastor Hagen is excited about living in and being involved in the Fairmont community. You might see him shooting clay pigeons at the Gun Club, or taking in an evening of racing at the Fairmont Raceway. He hopes to make an occasional appearance on the “Voices” page in the Saturday paper, as well as record a few spots for the local radio station. And on many summer evenings, Pastor and Desiree are commonly seen walking their dogs, playing Frisbee golf, or enjoying a quiet evening in their backyard. “We love this town - it’s quiet, it’s safe, and we’ve already found a number of things we really love.”
With a new pastor, what’s in store at Shepherd of the Lakes?
“My main concern, of course, is to keep Shepherd of the Lakes on the unchanging foundation of God’s Word. My wife and I love Fairmont, and I’d love for our congregation to be a model of Christian truth and love. Because, you know, even though pastors change and buildings change - God’s Word doesn’t change.”
Sounds like Pastor Hagen has his answer.