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Thursday, March 22, 2018

New pastor settling in at Assembly of God Church

By Cindy Mullet

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

A Bible camp experience and an evening prayer meeting set Kevin Petersen on the road to becoming a pastor.

“Literally the voice of God spoke to me at a Bible camp as a teenager,” Kevin, who with his wife Tina moved to Glendive at the end of January to pastor the Assembly of God church, said, adding the voice told him, “I want you to preach.”

A farm boy and outdoorsman from North Dakota who enjoyed singing and playing football, Kevin wasn’t sure that was the life for him. He argued with God until his sophomore year in Bible college. He and Tina were dating but neither had an interest in pastoral ministry, he said.

That changed one evening in a prayer meeting where God showed him he could be himself and still go into the ministry. That same night Tina had a whole different conversation with God where she ultimately said “yes” to the role of a pastor’s wife, he said.

Neither Kevin nor Tina was aware of the other’s talk with God. Both thought they would have to break up because Kevin knew Tina didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife and Tina knew he didn’t want to be a pastor.

“That was a very special time in our life,” he said. “We put God’s plans for us in front of our plans. It’s been a great adventure.”

Kevin and Tina married between his sophomore and junior years of Bible college and, following an internship in 1991, he became the youth pastor for a church in Seymour, Wisc. Later he worked as the pastor and general handyman and Tina worked in the office at a Christian campground before moving to their first church at Carrington, N.D. in 1996, he said.

Over the years they have ministered in churches in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota while raising their family of three children, one son and two daughters. They came to Glendive from a church in the small rural community of Clark, S.D., he said.

Leaving the South Dakota church was a hard decision for them, but they felt God leading them to a new ministry. After speaking with the church superintendent of Montana and seeing the opening in Glendive, they applied, had a phone interview and then came for a face to face.

“We fell in love with the community,” he said, adding, “We haven’t met anyone grumpy yet. Everyone has been so kind.”

Their ministry in Glendive will be the first church they have served without children at home. It is also the first time they haven’t lived fairly close to them. They will miss interacting with their children and their four grandchildren but look forward to visits, they said.

In looking at their ministry in Glendive, Kevin sees their first responsibility as guiding and discipling the local church but believes that work will send them and the congregation into the community to connect in any way the Lord leads, he said.

Tina is excited about digging into some women’s ministry, looking at forming coffee groups or book studies, being real with women and giving positive encouragement to them, she said.

They also want to be sure that everyone who comes to the church feels welcome. In Clark, they discovered a growing Latino community and in response to that interest and with the help of a Puerto Rican couple, began translating their services into Spanish. They don’t see that need in Glendive but one of the first things they want to do here is work on handicap accessibility at the church.

“We want people to know they are welcome,” he said, adding, “I love diversity.”

Over the years both Kevin and Tina have been involved with local schools. Tina has worked in the office, as a teacher’s aide and, in Clark, as the secretary to the superintendent. Over the years she has also worked in a coffee shop and a flower shop and had a day care in her home, she said.

Kevin’s involvement with schools has been as a coach and a school bus driver. He coached football and track for 13 years and really enjoyed relating to the students, teachers and other coaches.  No matter what the skill level of his athletes, he always worked to let them know they had value. Developing leaders was his goal. Making some wins along the way was pretty rewarding also, he said.

One of his greatest challenges in praying about the move to Glendive was to not let his love of the outdoors, hunting and fishing affect his decision. Once the move was official, however, he allowed himself to get excited about the possibilities here, he said.

They are looking for places to camp and fish and Kevin is anticipating hunting season. They also plan to take advantage of Makoshika State Park, which they have started calling their “back 40,” since the church and the parsonage are located on the south side right next to the park, he said.

“We know this is where the Lord wants us and it’s exciting to know we are in God’s will,” added.

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