Submitted by Devyn Giannetti
Michael Conklin, pastor at Rejoice! Lutheran Church on Stow Road, celebrated his 30-year anniversary of his ordination May 27 with his family and congregation.
On that date in 1988, Conklin took an oath into the office of the holy ministry.
He recalls that his dad didn’t think he would stay with the same job.
"They said I’d never do it ... He never thought I’d stick with it," Conklin said.
Conklin graduated from the Trinity Seminary School in 1988, soon after becoming a mission developer for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He has led the Rejoice! congregation for 13 years, helping them grow as people and worshippers.
"I truly feel that my faith has deepened in my time here," said Marisa McLellend, Rejoice! member since 2012. "He’s taught us many things, even when we had a difficult time hearing them."
Conklin plays many roles in Hudson, including chairperson of the Hudson Community Service Association and secretary of the Hudson Ministerial Association. These roles have helped him implement new projects at Rejoice! that can help those beyond members of the church.
A food pantry for those struggling to gain frequent access to food is housed through Rejoice, implemented in 2012.
"The food pantry idea actually came through some members of the HCSA," Conklin said. "[Church members] Ginny and Brian Pillsbury who were working with them approached me and said the HCSA was having trouble finding a location in town. I met with the leaders of the food pantry and brought their request to the Council."
The pantry averages 22 families a month, typically equating to 50-65 people. Conklin discovered that a high percentage of those using the pantry were older than 65, or elderly women living alone. Because of this, Conklin is working closely with members of the congregation and council members of the HMA to create a senior center in Hudson.
"Senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic in Hudson," Conklin said. "Hudson itself offers little or nothing in the way of services for them. The private sector does most of the programming, but that excludes many low income seniors. If the city is willing to fund some outside sources to facilitate the program needs, that would be helpful. That way they don’t have to take it on themselves.
"Local churches can offer the use of their buildings and perhaps help create programs together."
Conklin resides in Hudson with his wife, Michelle, and three daughters, Monica and twins Marisa and Megan. He adds that he is open to future opportunities.
"I just want to do what God wants me to do," he says. "God keeps putting the opportunities in front of me, and I pray that I can see them."