The new year brings a new pastor to Old Main St. Church of Christ in Newton.
Rob Lester lives in Mulvane and has preached at the church as a substitute for the past several months. When he kept getting asked to come up more frequently, he started to seriously consider a return to full-time ministry.
Lester grew up in Mulvane, but moved around as an adult, spending three years in the Army as an artillery observer. His military service led him to become a chaplain in the American Legion, where he led prayers for Memorial Day and other ceremonies.
"I enjoy doing those things," Lester said.
In 2002, Lester and his family attended a small church that didn't have a preacher.
"They had guest speakers and were listening to audiotapes," Lester recalled.
He mentioned his frustration to his wife, who encouraged Lester to help out instead of complaining. He took the advice to heart, and began to preach.
"I (was) a member there," Lester said matter-of-factly. "If we were going to keep it alive, I had to do my part."
Finding he enjoyed studying and preaching, Lester went to Bear Valley Bible Institute in Denver, completing a two-year course.
Moves to work as a preacher took Lester to Guthrie, Oklahoma, and Maryville, Missouri, where he worked with congregations numbering between 30 and 100 members.
Wanting to be closer to family, Lester and his wife and three children moved back to Mulvane. Lester worked as an aircraft mechanic for Spirit.
"We moved around quite a bit when I was doing ministry before, and we decided to move back home," Lester said.
Lester plans to keep living in Mulvane until his youngest child graduates from high school, but is intent on getting plugged in to Newton. He looks forward to meeting people outside of the congregation at Old Main St. Church of Christ and said he would like to join them in volunteering at New Hope.
"I really feel like I need to be strongly connected to the community," Lester said. "I'm going to come up and be in town three days a week."
When starting a conversation, Lester said he will ask people what their view of Jesus is.
"A lot of times that gets you a real interesting response," Lester said. "I wasn't raised in the church, so I had a lot of those questions,"
Lester feels that younger people who may reject church traditions still want to find meaning in religion.
"They're looking for authenticity," Lester said. "They want people to live their faith. The answer is really simple. It's not easy, but it's simple... we have to show people the gospel, instead of just telling them about it."
Old Main St. Church of Christ is located at 1701 Old Main St. and holds worship services at 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays and a Bible study at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
"I think the congregation is a really good core group," Lester said. "It really impresses me that the group is pretty much always there."
Old Main St. Church of Christ has been without a preacher for several months, but Lester said that hasn't stopped the members from meeting and doing benevolent work.
"It's a very close family," Lester said. "The church has a good heart. I'm glad to be a part of it."
For more information, visit http://newtonkschurchofchrist.com or call 316-283-3577