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Roberts church calls new pastor

Rev. Melinda Feller will be Roberts UCC's new pastor.

After more than a year of searching and considering more than 75 candidates, Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ has selected a new pastor.

Rev. Melinda Feller was chosen by a committee of nine Roberts UCC members and recommended for the position of pastor to the congregation.

"Once we met Pastor Melinda, we knew God was calling us to partner in ministry with her," said Lori Jurek, member of the Roberts UCC search committee. "We unanimously voted to extend an invitation to Pastor Melinda to be the candidate we would present to our church."

Feller accepted the committee's invitation, and a meet and greet event was held Oct. 13 so the congregation could get to know Feller. She led Roberts UCC's Sunday worship service on Oct. 14.

Afterwards, a congregational meeting was held during which members voted on the recommendation of the search committee.

The recommendation was approved and Feller was officially called to be pastor for Roberts UCC.

"We will now begin the process of saying goodbye to Pastor Del and preparing for the future with Pastor Melinda," Jurek said.

Roberts UCC's interim pastor Rev. Del Permann's time at Roberts UCC isn't up yet, but when it is, Jurek said he will likely retire. Although, she said, he will keep busy.

"Pastor Del Permann never has a shortage of things to do," Jurek said.

Feller has her Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in New Brighton, Minn. She also holds an M.A. in child development and a B.A. in psychology.

A brochure the committee distributed to the congregation praised Feller's leadership style and "can-do spirit". Feller has more than 20 years' experience in ordained ministry. She described her leadership style as "collaborative."

"I seek to work with the people that I'm called to work with, and see laity and clergy complimenting each other," Feller said.

Feller said she feels God has called her to serve at Roberts UCC.

"They did everything right," Feller said. "As I was interviewing at other places, I constantly found myself comparing other churches to Roberts and Roberts just did everything right."

Feller said Roberts UCC had expressed to her an interested in doing more with missions and outreach in the future.

"I'm excited to explore some new possibilities with them," Feller said. "Also they wanted to work more on spirituality."

But more than being involved in the church, Feller said she is looking forward to being a part of the Roberts community at large.

"My hope is that, not just within the Roberts church, but perhaps the Roberts library to be able to host some community book discussions," Feller said, "to talk about issues of faith in a broader, more ecumenical way."

The other reason, Feller said, she is excited for the move to Roberts is because she enjoys the small town atmosphere.

"I just appreciate the pride of small towns, that they have in their town," Feller said, "but also the relationship and the community development."

Feller said her favorite parts of being a pastor are working with the very old, and the young.

"I love working with young children because of their energy, their enthusiasm, their outlook on life," Feller said, "and at the same time, I love visiting the elderly. I love hearing the stories that the elderly have to share, and hearing the wisdom they have from living a long life."

The search committee was made up of Lori Jurek, Jennah Ackley, Terry Dull, Nancy Kirouac, Annie Loewel, Bernie McGaver, Terry McKinley, Carol Morgen and Tim Myer.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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