Knox Community Church picks Pam Stang
Nearly two months ago, Pam Stang decided to listen to her calling from God to preach. After 10 years in Wyoming, the 50-year-old mother of four moved to North Dakota.
The ordained minister sought out churches, ready to offer support as a pulpit supply minister.
She got a job with Rugby Manufacturing and a house in Leeds, where she quickly heard about Rev. Brenda Burns. Stang first saw the popular pastor at the Knox Community Church, when Burns delivered her final sermon. The 53-year-old died Nov. 9 from injuries sustained in a one-vehicle accident two days earlier on N.D. 3.
“I really wanted to connect with Brenda because I really felt called to speak with her,” Stang said. “I was looking for a mentor. To be a woman pastor is a challenge sometimes because there’s divided opinions on whether or not it’s appropriate. Obviously, I feel called and believe I’m in the right place and believe God calls women, as well as men.”
Stang was out of the area for business that week and tried calling Burns numerous times. It wasn’t until after she stopped by an empty church in Leeds and then an empty one in Knox that she searched the Internet and saw the tragic news.
Knox parishioners invited Stang to speak last week and church members asked her to be their pastor. Parishioners can’t remember Burns missing a Sunday in 15 years. Pat Robbins, a longtime member, said that when Stang offered assistance to Burns the latter said, “You just may be the answer to my prayers.”
“They’re a family and there’s a deep feeling toward each other and respect and love and they absolutely loved Brenda,” Stang said. “I told them I really don’t see how I can fill her shoes, I don’t think anyone could. The presence of the Holy Spirit was very strong in that church and there’s just a feeling of rightness.”
Stang accepted and is also interested in assuming Burns’ role as pastor at the Lebanon Lutheran Church in Leeds, where she will speak Sunday.
Stang said she’s honored to have heard from multiple churchgoers offering their support for her being a pastor.
“I felt driven to be at that church on that Sunday and, from what I understand, I was the person they wanted to be there,” she said.
Stang was born in California and has lived in seven states. She grew up on both coasts with stops in Seattle and Maryland. She spent five years with a fellowship committee at the Ecumenical Theology Seminary in Detroit and was active in Christian education with at-risk youth.
Stang, a grandmother of seven, has a degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University in Washington D.C., and worked for the government for 22 years. She continued working as an engineer in Wyoming.
Stang is appreciative of the support she’s received in her latest chapter and sees it as a reflection of the people’s beloved late pastor.
“Brenda had a connection with the people she spoke to and she shared the word and she was filled with the holy spirit and she loved them,” Stang said. “It was clear in the way that she was with her congregation, she was very connected and she’ll be a hard act to follow.”
Knox Community Church member Pat Robbins said it was hard getting Burns to close the church in a blizzard, so the church was optimistic it would continue. The community is invited to help with the decorating of the church at 1 p.m. today. The church’s Christmas Program is on as scheduled for Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. ,with music by the Borgen-Johnson-Braaten Trio.
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