Granby;s Pastor Joel Martin is called to next mission
When Lord of the Valley Pastor Joel Martin came to Grand County he expected to stay for three years.
Now, more than 11 years later, he has been called to Christ Lutheran Church, in the City of Marine on St. Croix, Minn.
Martin, 38, who also has contributed to Faith Matters for the Sky-Hi Daily News for about a year, has enjoyed his experience as a pastor in Grand County.
“Every day there’s part of me that questions whether we made the right decision to leave,” he said. “It’s a great church, it’s a great community.”
His wife Linda of 13 years, lives in Minnesota and they want to be closer. They have a son Everett, 8, and daughter Elsa, 6. The Chicago native’s last day at the Granby church is Jan. 11, and he will move at the end of the month.
“It’s a good time to move professionally,” Martin added. “The church here is a at a healthy spot … It’s time for a change.”
Lord of the Valley is his first church. He said his goal was to help the church grow and find a sense of sustainability. When he came to the church it had 25 members; now it has 125.
“It’s a stable church. It’s known in the community for its mission and ministry. It’s a vibrant church,” he said. “We’re drawing younger people, families with children.”
The church is always losing members and gaining new ones because of the transitional nature of the community. Only four families who belong to the church have lived in Grand County longer than he has, he said.
“Part of the challenge of being a church up here is the church is always changing,” he added. “It’s a diverse church … We have some of the most ardent, politically, socially, theologically, conservative people, and at the (same time) some of the most ardent, politically, socially, and theological liberal people. And somehow we’re able to be the church together.”
Members are encouraged to ask questions and bring their brains to church, he said.
“We’re not afraid to have conversations that matter. We’re not afraid to discuss our differences while maintaining that we are the church together to spite those
The faith also helps people in their daily lives, he said.
“I think it grounds people and reminds them of the foundation they have in God,” Martin said. “It unites them with other people. I think there’s a communal aspect of church that helps you grow in your relationship not only with others but also with church. I think it’s also helped people grow in their understanding of what it means to be a Disciple of Christ.”
When Martin first arrived in Grand County he worked half-time at the church, and as a bartender and server at Paul’s Creekside Grill Inn at Silver Creek, which no longer exists.
“Our family loves the area,” he said. “We love the skiing, we live for the summer. People in Grand County are great. And there’s nothing like blue sky in the middle of winter.
“We’ll miss the church a lot and the people in it. It’s kind of bitter sweet.”
He will also have to give up playing poker on Monday nights at Crooked Creek in Fraser.
“I am proud of that (Lord of the Valley) is known in the community for its outreach and involvement in community affairs,” Pastor Martin said. “Eleven-and-a-half years ago nobody knew where this church was, and now people know where Lord of the Valley is and who we are.”
” Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. You may reach her at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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