LINDSBORG — Town and gown is taking on a whole new meaning in Lindsborg as Pastor Amy Truhe assumes the dual roles of Bethany College chaplain and Messiah Lutheran Church pastor.

A special installation service will take place at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 17 in Pearson Chapel on the campus of Bethany College. After a brief opening, area pastors in clerical garb will lead a procession from the chapel to Messiah Lutheran Church. All congregational and community members are invited to attend this celebration of an historic development and to join in the procession. Those unable to walk the half block across campus are encouraged to go directly to the church. A reception will be held in Messiah’s Fellowship Hall immediately following the service. All are welcome.

The idea of sharing a campus pastor with Messiah Lutheran Church started soon after Will Jones, president of Bethany College, took the helm as the 14th president in the college’s 136 year history. He was aware that Messiah Lutheran Church was preparing to call a new pastor in the midst of financial difficulties which limited their options.

At the same time Bethany College was addressing a serious financial crisis and Jones saw this as an opportunity for the church and college to do ministry together in a very tangible way. It was a realistic solution to the financial predicaments both institutions were facing.

Partnering together is not a new concept for this church and college. When Messiah Lutheran Church was established in 1908 as an English-speaking congregation intended in part to accommodate the young college community, Dr. E.F. Pihlblad, Bethany’s president at the time, stepped in as its first pastor. Furthermore, Bethany College gifted the fledgling congregation a parcel of land on the southeast corner of the campus as a site for their church building. Even though sharing a pastor between the two institutions is a novel arrangement, history had prepared the way.

Messiah Lutheran Church immediately selected a task force to study Jones’ suggestion and to work with members of the college administration to sort through a myriad of logistical issues needing to be resolved to the satisfaction of both college and congregation. The resulting proposal was that the pastor filling this position would devote approximately fifteen hours a week to Bethany College and twenty-five hours a week to Messiah Church with compensation and benefits divided accordingly. This then brought a change in direction for the church’s Call Committee, which revised their paper work to accommodate the new joint position. Finding someone qualified and interested in taking on the pastoring of both a college and a congregation was a whole new ball-game.

Enter Pastor Amy Truhe. Living in nearby Salina, she was already familiar with Bethany College and Lindsborg, giving her a distinct advantage over other candidates for the position. She also had uniquely well-suited qualifications for the role.

“People energize me,” she states emphatically.

She radiates love and compassion for all people, is unabashedly passionate about her Christian faith, brims with gratitude and appreciation, enjoys a ready sense of humor, and is articulate, enthusiastic and very real. She also loves to sing, and can never get too much watermelon.

Truhe, known to most as Pastor Amy, does not consider herself to be a theological scholar, even though her theological understanding, clarity of thought and facility with words would suggest otherwise. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in English, from Valparaiso University in Indiana and later earned a master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Kansas State University. Responding to the need for leaders in the church, Truhe went through rigorous training to become a Parish Ministry Associate, which allowed her to serve several Lutheran congregations even before becoming an ordained pastor. As her children got older she was free to pursue theological studies at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa and was ordained Oct 10, 2010 as a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Truhe was serving at Memorial Lutheran Church in Chapman when it was destroyed by a tornado in June 2008. Although the congregation managed to rebuild within two years, loss of members and finances caused its eventual demise. Since that time Truhe has served an Episcopalian congregation and also as a chaplain at Salina Regional Medical Center.

Truhe and her husband Doug, both of whom grew up in Russell and now live in Salina, have three children. The youngest, Eli, graduated from Salina South High School in May and is attending Kansas Wesleyan University on tennis and academic scholarships, and pursuing a degree in business and finance. Son Colin is a third-year student at Washburn University where he is pursuing a degree in Human Resources and Communication. First-born child Brenna is at Emporia State University pursuing a Master’s degree in Library Science as related to law. All three Truhe children have been active in the Lutheran Church, serving as camp counselors, attending youth conventions, being selected as youth representatives. Three years ago Eli chose to go to Papua New Guinea as part of the synod mission team. When one of the women dropped out before the trip, Pastor Truhe offered to take her place after first making sure it was all right with Eli to have his mother tag along. It was, and the mother-son duo thoroughly enjoyed the experience together.

Truhe has a small plaque on the wall of her new office in Messiah Lutheran Church. It is a passage from Psalms 28 and reads, "Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."

“That’s my favorite Scripture verse,” Truhe explains. It defines her very well.