by Colin McEwen
Stow -- A special service celebrating the Church of New Hope's new pastor, the Rev. Chris Decker, is set for May 27.
The "baton passing" service will be led by the church's founding pastor, the Rev. Dave Klein, and Roger Larson, who served as the interim pastor after Klein left last year. Decker is only the church's second pastor in 22 years.
"I am looking forward to serving this community," said Decker, who recently moved to Stow from Ellet with his wife, Teri, and their three children. "We want to get our roots here, and get to know people in the community."
A luncheon will follow the 10 a.m. service.
Decker has more than 10 years of ministry experience, most recently working in the children's ministry at the Akron First Assembly Church, where he served for four years.
Decker said he attended Central Bible College in Springfield, Mo., where he also did ministerial work in nearby Monet, Mo., and graduated in 1999.
He said the lessons he learned from the children at Akron First Assembly have prepared him for preaching to adults.
"Everything I have learned about senior pastoring, I have learned from children," said Decker. "Relevancy is huge -- to life and the world we live in. That is what I am trying to do. I expect to bring life, new hope and new relationships [to the church]. Relationships are first and foremost in order to have a relationship with Christ."
Decker said he is pleased to live in Stow, and the transition from being a children's pastor to a senior pastor has been a good experience.
"This has been a God thing from the very beginning," he said. "It's been a long process. God has opened the door and we have stepped through. In the back of my mind, this was something I have always wanted to do."
Decker said he looks forward to the May 27 service and the luncheon.
"It will be a celebration -- food and fellowship -- that's always good," he said.
For information about the events, call 330-688-9999.