CHINOOK Pastor Nels Flesher has been in Chinook and Naselle for seven weeks and already he and his wife Darice (Grass) are getting used to the area and enjoying getting to know the people he will serve.
I am not here to teach my version of the Gospel or to only be a good neighbor. I am here to learn from all of the people I meet. Ill be shaped far more by them than I will shape people. I am here for everybody, whether they go to church, become a member or are a neighbor, the 26-year- old pastor says.
He holds a service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Chinook Sundays at 9 a.m. and then goes to Naselle Evangelical Lutheran Church to lead their service at 11 a.m. I always dreamed of sharing the Word of God through scripture, worship and the world. I noticed I had the gift of being able to hear and interpret the Word, but I never dreamed of being a professional in a church, Flesher explains.
He graduated from Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor in 2005 where he sampled soccer, track and cross country. I liked baseball, but I couldnt hit very well, he laughs. Pastor Flesher participated in choir and drama, which helped prepare him for his present calling. He attended high school one year in Holden Village, a Lutheran temporary community in the Cascade Mountains. I received an intense course and was able to envision the Lutheran way of life in a one-room schoolhouse, Pastor Flesher says.
What he did after high school is typical of the many abilities and aptitudes Pastor Flesher possesses. He became a builder of wooden boats in Port Angeles. He then went to Alaska Pacific University for two years and then enrolled in the Coast Guard and enjoyed the rescues more than any other of his duties.
Along the way he was a pipe organ builder, a forester and was involved in outdoor education. In 2006, he entered Pacific Lutheran University and studied religion. In 2008 he married fellow student Darice. The couple then relocated to Yale in Connecticut, where he earned a masters degree in divinity. Did you know that Yale was opened in the 1700s (1738) to train pastors and lawyers? asks Flesher.
He went to Pacific Lutheran Theology Seminary in Berkley, Calif., and graduated from there in 2011 and then did an internship in Orland, Calif. Pastor Flesher and Darice requested a calling in the Pacific Northwest near their parents. He was drafted by the churches in Chinook and Naselle and after an interview, he received his call to ministry.
Pastor John Stroeth of Tacoma always told me that your calling will be where your passion meets the worlds needs and I believe that is why I am here, Pastor Flesher states.
Besides the dual services that Pastor Flesher officiates on Sundays, he has office hours in Naselle on Tuesdays and Wednesday through Friday he is at the church office in Chinook, where the Fleshers reside in the parsonage.
Right now I want what I do to matter and I want all that the church does to matter also. But I realize that I can feel like I fail, but God does the real work, says Flesher.
As for the varying weather and wet climate of the area, Flesher says, The Norwegians have a saying that there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. I take that perspective. After all, I grew up in Gig Harbor.
From building boats and pipe organs to preaching sermons and serving his congregation, it appears Pastor Flesher is well on his way to acclimatizing to his new position, come what may.