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Vicar arrives at St. John Lutheran Church

An avid outdoorsman and preacher of the gospel, Stephen Meltzer is getting used to the Wadena area as the new vicar of St. John Lutheran Church.

Meltzer, 44, moved from Fort Wayne, Ind., which is the second largest city in the state, to a country home near Hewitt when he was accepted to be the vicar of St. John Lutheran Church. Though Fort Wayne is similar in size to St. Cloud, he is grateful to be in a rural area.

"I am tickled pink to be back in God's country," he said with a smile.

Meltzer spent almost 30 years in the automotive industry before pursuing his calling to the field of ministry, he said. When he began, he had to go back to Concordia, St. Paul and finish his undergraduate classes. Then he went to the Concordia seminary in Fort Wayne, attending full time in order to finish in two years. It has been about a six year process since he started his pastoral work.

After a year of service as a vicar, Meltzer will be ordained, and his title will become pastor.

"In some cases, a vicarage serves as an internship," he said.

He was led into the ministry because he enjoyed being part of the process where he can watch the seeds that Christians plant in others grow.

"For me, it's the opportunity to participate, even if it's just a tiny bit, in this process of seeing people being transformed by the gospel message," he said.

Meltzer believes that St. John has done a wonderful job of holding things together and growing the church over these past years without a full-time pastor, and he plans to continue what they have already started.

"I will continue with the mission of strengthening the saved and saving the lost, reaching out into the community with the good news of the gospel," he said.

Accompanying him is his "lovely" wife Julie and daughters Katie and Anna. Katie is a junior at St. Cloud State, and Anna will be beginning her junior year at Wadena-Deer Creek High School. For the Meltzer family, it has been a long, hard process. They have moved back and forth across the country several times, but Meltzer said that his family is an integral part in his ministry.

"I can't do what I do without their love and support," he said.

As well as being a vicar, Meltzer is an avid outdoorsman. Both of his daughters hunt and fish with him. He and his family also enjoy camping, boating, hiking and biking, to list a few.

"If you can name an outdoor sport that we haven't tried or haven't participated in, I'd be really surprised," he said.

Now that he is at St. John Lutheran Church, he commented that he would like to stay forever.

"As long as they'll have me," he said with a laugh.