CHINOOK - Chinook Lutheran Church has a new full-time pastor. The Rev. Al Harness came to Chinook in April and was installed in May. He replaces Tony Stoutenberg, who was pastor there and at Naselle Lutheran Church for 10 years. Stoutenberg resigned about a year ago.
Harness led a Lutheran congregation in Forks for more than 13 years before coming to Pacific County and also served as interim pastor at a church near Boston. He grew up in the Tri-Cities area and his wife, Cindy, is from the Yakima area. They have a grown son and two grandchildren.
"I'm intentional about outreach and service to the community," Harness said. "That's what the church is for." While he's learning about his new community, he'll be searching for ways to care for its members in need. As a pastoral counselor, he is experienced in providing crisis intervention. "This is a specific way to care for the community," he said.
He also plans to become involved in the community in a bigger way and is researching violence prevention. In Forks, he served on several county boards. "The church can work with cities and counties to serve the people and work to make things happen," he said.
The Chinook church hasn't had a Sunday school for some time, Harness said, and he is working to organize one again. A vacation Bible school will be held the end of July at the church.
Harness said he is planning to make changes in the church's worship style to attract younger people. "We want to help local families and make this a place for young people to come," he said. "I'm serious about outreach and serving the community."