Minister joins Christ community
John Allen had always known he would be in the ministry. The son of a pastor, he became one himself at age 27 fresh out of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.
Twenty years later, he has landed in Lawrence as senior pastor at Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive, the fourth church of his career. Previously, he was at churches in his native New Mexico, as well as North Dakota and California. Allen's first Sunday at the church was Aug. 17.
Allen, 47, says that though he had no ties to Lawrence, he felt that the town was right for him, his wife and their teenage son.
"I was just kind of looking at where the Lord would have me minister and this church got in touch with me," Allen says. "This just seemed to be where the Lord led."
He says the family did its research before moving to Kansas and loved the idea of Lawrence.
"It's just a beautiful community," he says. "It's got just a wonderful, big city cultural-type feel, just a wonderful small town feel as well - just a good cross between those."
When Ted Mosher finally told his secret to his wife, Kim, she didn't bat an eye.
Instead, she squared up and told him point-blank: "I think you may have a brain tumor."
Kim Mosher had every reason to believe her husband wasn't right in the head.
He told her that he wanted to leave his lucrative job in the medical malpractice insurance industry for, of all things, the ministry.
"I thought he had a mid-life crisis or a brain tumor or something," she says. "It wasn't anything he had ever expressed any interest in other than he had been involved in our church."
Now, Mosher is pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 2211 Inverness Drive. He's one of two newly appointed Lawrence pastors with families who chose ministry as a second career after successful stints in the business world.
The other is Gary O'Flannagan, new pastor at Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd St.
Mosher hadn't expressed an interest in the ministry, but for a good year as he zoomed in on age 40, the thought of joining the clergy had consumed his every thought.
At first, he used all his energy to ignore it. But, to him, the signs were everywhere. He became more involved in his church at the time, Advent Lutheran Church in Olathe, first serving on the church council, then becoming the president of the congregation. Pretty soon, he noticed he was retooling his travel obligations for work so that he wouldn't miss his Monday night Bible study.
"We had the stuff that you were supposed to want, you know, and I enjoyed what I did and I certainly enjoyed the people I worked with, but it was just ... that sense that I was being pulled in a different direction," says Mosher, 47. "It just became stronger and stronger until I kind of had a sense that it might be (that I was) being called to ... ordained ministry. But I was afraid to say it out loud because I didn't really want it to be true."
His wife didn't either.
"I was really upset, actually, I was really angry and just thought that that was going to kind of ruin our lives," she says. "I couldn't imagine him as a pastor, and I couldn't imagine us in that kind of life. We had a certain lifestyle, he was in corporate America and we were happy with that. So it was a good couple of years that I pretty much tried to ignore it. He was at least kind enough not to put any pressure on me. And I think he felt that it was kind of between God and me to if that was going to happen."
Fast-forward eight years and the Moshers, along with their two school-age daughters, Katie and Taylor, have finally had their first Sunday with Ted as a full-time pastor at Good shepherd. That day was this past Sunday, where Mosher, fresh out of four years at Wartburg Theological Seminary, appeared behind the pulpit.
Hearing the call
Like Mosher, O'Flannagan had been a successful businessman in his first career, and as he got closer to 40, heard the call to the ministry - right smack in the middle of going to college for degrees in business and ethics.
"I started while I was in Bible college. I was getting a business degree at Manhattan Christian College in Manhattan, Kan. I was working for Raytheon - aircraft manufacturing - and I was a production crew chief and a technician," says O'Flannagan, 46. "And so I thought I was going to stay in business, but God put me into the church."
Faith had played a role in his life since he met his wife, Anna, and began attending church with her, after about 10 years away from the church in which he grew up - the Roman Catholic Church. Feeling at home with the Baptist tradition, his faith began to seep into his everyday life.
"I've prayed with men on the shop floor, in a parking lot, in a store building where I've worked, things like that," he says.
Feeling confident in his decision to leave business and head to the ministry, he packed up his family - Anna and the two of his three children who were still at home - and moved from his hometown of Salina to the Kansas City area to attend Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary. From there, he served churches in rural Missouri, Alamosa, Colo., and back to Salina before heeding the call to Lawrence.
"I just had a sense God wanted me to come here to eastern Kansas," he says.
Mosher also moved hours away to attend Wartburg, selling the family's dream home in Olathe and moving into student housing on Wartburg's campus in Dubuque, Iowa. The family spent two years in Dubuque before a year on an internship in Seattle and another, final, year at the seminary.
One final test for the family would be how it would react when finding out where the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America would place them for Mosher's first job. Mosher was able to put in a preference to return to his home synod - the Central States Synod - but figured it was in God's hands.
"We've learned through this process that it's not really our plan," Mosher says.
But for Kim Mosher, it's a plan that clearly God wanted for them - even if she couldn't see it at first.
"It does feel like it was an adventure and definitely worthwhile, and now I'm to the point where I definitely can see him as a pastor," she says. "Where, at the beginning, I couldn't. When he went to seminary I was a little worried, like, 'Oh, gosh, what if this doesn't work out?'
"But now I can see it very well."