Nov 25, 2020 10:19 PM

COVID-19: My Story Episode 13-Pastor Kent Pedersen transcript

Posted Nov 25, 2020 10:19 PM

Kent Pedersen:

There's no perfect answers. I just wish more people, during all of this, on the news and places of leadership, I wish more people would just say the words, "I don't know. We're doing the best we can." Let's do the best we can to be respectful of others. I don't know if the mask works or not. I got it. I wore the mask a lot but the reason I wear a mask is to be polite. It's because they're asking us to do it and it doesn't hurt us. It doesn't hurt me to do that.

Kent Pedersen:

Hi, this is Kent Pedersen and this is my COVID-19 story.

Nick Gosnell:

Welcome to COVID-19: My Story. I'm Nick Gosnell. We talked to Pastor Kent Pedersen with Hutchinson First Church of the Nazarene in Hutchinson this week, more about his ministry than his personal COVID experience, but something that we felt you needed to hear on this week's COVID-19: My Story.

Nick Gosnell:

Having had the illness, does that help you empathize with some of the other folks that you're dealing with?

Kent Pedersen:

Oh, without a doubt, certainly. Anytime you go through something, whether it's the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a financial situation, anytime you go through something, it definitely gives you greater empathy. Not that you didn't have it before, but it certainly puts it at a different perspective when you've gone through something yourself, and at the same time, I don't like to say, "Hey, I know what you're going through." Because even if you've gone through it, every person's experience is different. But certainly, I would say there's a greater empathy and understanding for those that are going through this.

Nick Gosnell:

With regard to decisions made by your church board and your church in general, this has got to be one of the toughest seasons of ministry, for those of us that use the church language, that you've had in 2020. Just because you want to be able to have people experience things together, that's what church is, but at the same time, you have to be careful with virus transmission as well because you've got folks that have been there and love being a part of that, and church is one of their main social activities, that also fall into a group that may be at greater risk for getting the virus and getting it in a bad way if they do get it. So, how do you strike that balance?

Kent Pedersen:

Well, if I knew, I'd write a book on it. It has been hard. I think every pastor would tell you that it's been hard from the aspect of that you have people on both sides of the issue, people that feel very passionate on both sides of the issue. You have people that are mad that you talk about or wear a mask. You have people on that side. You have people on the other side that are mad for the opposite reasons. "Why aren't you wearing a mask?" You have people questioning decisions of "Okay, so you have church services. You're open." There's others as well as like, "Why have we shut down at all?" That's certainly been a not fun part of it. I am grateful that I feel like the leadership of our church, both board and staff, and many of our people, I believe they've had a good attitude.

Kent Pedersen:

I've talked to other pastors that they're just getting raked over the coals. No matter what decision they make, they are just getting beat up. I'm grateful. I'm thankful. I have a church that I feel like has been very gracious. Very kind. There's been little bits but really, overall, I have not had that experience and I'm grateful. I think, there's been people that's been gracious and understanding. Hey, these are difficult days. This is hard. There's no perfect answers. I just wish more people during all of this, on the news and places of leadership, I wish more people would just say the words, "I don't know. We're doing the best we can." And that's what I feel like where I am, is we're doing the best we can, but we don't know. We may be getting some things wrong, but we're doing the best we can. And I'm thankful for the church that I pastor, Hutchinson First Nazarene. I feel like they've been gracious and understanding and patient and kind. And I don't say that because I'm trying to butter anybody up. I would say it if it wasn't going well. I do know pastors that are really getting beat up because of decisions. They're doing the best they can, but depending on where they are in the country and depending on the makeup of their congregation, it's been a very difficult experience. I'm thankful that it hasn't been terrible for us at our church.

Nick Gosnell:

The Buhler USD 313 superintendent, Cindy Couchman has said, "We don't want to be right. We want to get it right." And I know that that's sort of the attitude I think I heard in your previous answer. I don't know how long this virus is going to be enough of news that we're continuing to talk about it and you don't either. But, at the same time, there's an element of serving others and looking outside of yourself that has to be coming from this too. That ultimately, in terms of spiritual growth, you might actually consider to be a positive, I suppose.

Kent Pedersen:

We as believers believe that, Romans 8:28, all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose, that doesn't mean all good things happen to us. It doesn't mean everything that we do because we're believers, we're exempt from bad things, but we believe that good things can come from every situation, no matter how hard it is, if we allow it. The Apostle Paul is the great example of that. How he let beatings and hardship and persecution make his faith stronger and encouraged the church to make their faith stronger. So, I believe there is that element that we get to choose. We don't get to choose the things that happen to us. It's our response to the situations. That's what we have control over. We really don't have control over so many things. Certainly this year, I think is teaching us that.

Kent Pedersen:

And we like to be in control, it's human nature to want to be in control. But the reality is there's a lot of things out of our control, but what is in our control is our attitude. How we respond to things and are we going to allow it to help us to grow or to regress? Are we going to allow it to make us better? Are we going to allow it to make us bitter? Certainly, I think there is that opportunity. In regards to the superintendent, I think that's a great quote. We don't want to be right. We want to get it right. I would add to that. We're trying to get it right, but we still may get it wrong. We're making decisions, and we're doing the best that we can. We know we've made a decision right now to go to one service, and we feel like we can safely do that because about 80% is watching online.

Kent Pedersen:

We have had people in our church have COVID, including myself, but we don't believe it's from what's taking place on Sunday. If you saw our sanctuary, I mean, instead of 450 chairs set up, we have 160 chairs set up, and it's set up in groups of two and three and very social distance. We're doing a family service right now. So we are keeping family units together, and we've eliminated not having small group settings other than Zoom. Because we feel like, hearing from the County, we're trying to listen to others that more of the spread is coming, actually now, from small group settings, and going to maybe to dinner out, families going to dinner and stuff. Everyone has to make their own decision. I'm not here to judge people that are making those decisions. That's one thing I really feel like our church and we're trying to do is in the midst of our decisions that we're making, let's not sit there and judge other people because they view or do things differently.

Kent Pedersen:

Let's do the best we can to be respectful of others. I don't know if the mask works or not. I got it. I wore the mask a lot, but the reason I wear a mask is to be polite. It's because they're asking us to do it, and it doesn't hurt us. It doesn't hurt me to do that. And I think it's being respectful. And I think the church, and I'm giving a long answer to your short question, I think the church has a responsibility to act in a way that we are trying to honor our government officials and what they're asking of us. Now when they start asking us to deny our faith, when they tell us we can't worship any new way, I think that there's a place for civil disobedience. But, there's also a place to render under Caesar, what is Caesar's and to God's, what is God's.

Nick Gosnell:

Full disclosure. I have attended your church since we moved here, mostly online now though in person on occasion. And maybe that's where we should go with the next question. You mentioned a stat, 80% of your congregation is attending online. I know that's what my family and I have chosen to do for the last several weeks. Did you ever think there'd be this kind of impact of that particular aspect of your ministry?

Kent Pedersen:

Oh, no. I mean, no one could have ever guessed or foreseen this. I'm grateful though, that there are some things that I feel like the Lord has blessed us with and helped us with. We went through a capital campaign to remodel our sanctuary and gym, but we also updated our technology, our sound, our video capabilities. And we would have never guessed when we entered into this, we're about to finish the three-year campaign, we would have never guessed how important the technology aspect of this campaign would be, that has allowed us to do things online and do it better and well. Professionally, we're getting better at it. We would have never have guessed that. I could have never guessed that 75%, 80%, eight, nine months into this. Of course in March, April, all of us had a couple months that we shut down and were completely online.

Kent Pedersen:

But now that we do have an option, by the way, the 75%, 80% has really come into recent weeks because this went from Reno County back in the spring, the rest of the country, having high statistics. And we were sitting at zero deaths. We were sitting at less than 10 cases for a long time. And then all of a sudden, it just ballooned here in Reno. So because it's bloomed, it's become personal. Everybody knows somebody now, I say everybody that's died of COVID. Couple months ago, three months ago, that wasn't the case. I didn't know, but now we do. And most of us have someone in our church or multiple in our church that's died or has had it severely. In our case, I know those have been life-flighted to the hospital, know those who have died. Know those who have put them in intensive care for a couple of weeks. I mean, it's become more personal now. And so I think people are being more cautious. We just say, "Hey, online is a great tool. And we're thankful that we have it." And if that's your choice, we say, "It's a great choice." I've had people apologize, "I'm sorry, I'm not coming to..." Wait, don't apologize. Your safety matters to us. And we're thankful that God has given us the ability to have online services, but no, I could have never guessed, ever, that this would be the case. No one, I don't think, could have foreseen this.

Nick Gosnell:

The last question. With it being the week of Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for, Kent, as we go through Thanksgiving 2020.

Kent Pedersen:

You know, the simple things. First of all, as a believer, I'm thankful for my salvation. I'm thankful that Jesus died on a cross, that he rose again, that we have hope because of what he's done for us. I'm so thankful for that. I'm so thankful that despite a world that is in chaos, we believe that God's in control. I'm thankful that God is in control and actually there's a gratitude and thankfulness to sit there and go, "You know what, Kent? You're not as in control as you think that you are," and it's been good to recognize God is and that He's sovereign. And despite all this, we, as believers, have hope that He is working all things together for good and is actively working for His kingdom. So I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for my family. My girls just got home yesterday from college. We're thankful they were able to finish their semester safely. There was ups and downs and things that they had to deal with with COVID there, but they were able to finish safely and drive home safely. So I'm thankful for family and thankful for health. We take that for granted so often, but when we have health and we're blessed with it in seasons and times when you go through life and your health is good, I think we have an extra appreciation and thankful for the health God gives us as well.

Nick Gosnell:

All right. Thanks to pastor Kent Pedersen of Hutchinson First Church of the Nazarene for being our guest on COVID-19: My Story this week. If you have a COVID-19 story, feel free to email us at [email protected] and you may be the subject of a future episode. You can find a Hutch First Naz at hutchfirstnaz.org. And you can find COVID-19: My Story this week and every week on hutchpost.com and your favorite podcast app.