From 1999 through 2023, I served as the pastor of Mt. Hope Presbyterian Church and St. John's United Church of Christ. The two churches are located several miles apart, in the countryside between New Albin, Iowa, and Eitzen, Minnesota.
I lived in the parsonage next door to St. John's, on a gravel road about halfway between New Albin and Eitzen. I was there for twenty-four years, and I love the people, and I love this area!
Mt. Hope was founded in 1858 by English immigrants who settled in the valley of the Upper Iowa River. The church, built in 1870, stands in a unique and beautiful location, up on the side of a bluff. Mt. Hope is in John Knox Presbytery, which also happens to be my home presbytery.
St. John's, on Wheatland Ridge, was founded in 1880 by settlers from Germany. For many years services were held in German. It was part of the Evangelical & Reformed Church before it became part of the United Church of Christ. St. John's is just over the state line into Iowa, but belongs to the Minnesota Conference of the UCC.
You may think of Iowa as flat. But in fact, this corner of Iowa-- northeastern Iowa, Allamakee County-- is filled with steep hills and valleys, bluffs and hollows. I'm almost tempted to call it mountainous. It's the most beautiful area of the Midwest that I've ever seen.
united church of christ youth events
In July of 2008, two of us attended the UCC National Youth Event, which was held on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. From left: Ellen, Pastor Paul.
In July of 2006, some of us went on a trip to Northfield, Minnesota. We spent several days at a UCC Regional Youth Event, which met on the campus of St. Olaf College. Front, from left: Elizabeth, Amanda. Back: Pastor Paul, Julie, Lori.
In July 2004 several of us attended the UCC National Youth Event in Knoxville, Tennesee. Front row: Kelsey, Amanda, Ashley, Rachel, Paul, Josh. Back row: Pastor Paul, Julie, Lori.
In July 2002 some of us went to the UCC Regional Youth Event in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Back row: Paul, Matt, Amanda, Pastor Paul. Front row: Ashlee, Lori, Josh, Kelsey, Julie.
And in July of 2000 (back before I had a camera) several of us attended the UCC National Youth Event on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames.