Rugby First Lutheran Church welcomes Associate Pastor Monson
First Lutheran Church ordained and welcomed their new associate pastor, Connie Monson, Sunday, Aug. 1.
Monson, who comes to Rugby from Georgia, said she’s spent most of her life in the Upper Midwest and Washington State.
“I grew up in Minneapolis primarily and I went to high school outside of Milwaukee,” Monson said. “I went to college in Montana and then moved with my husband to Washington State and then moved to Georgia, so I moved around a little bit.”
“Until we moved to Georgia, I had only ever lived in the north,” Monson with a smile, adding, “This probably sounds strange, but I’m looking forward to having a real winter and this feels like home to me.”
Monson, a University of Montana graduate, began her career as an English teacher.
“I started teaching in Montana,” Monson said. “I taught for a little while at a branch of Spokane Community College; I went to Georgia and taught at Emory, Georgia Tech and at Georgia State.”
As a teacher and mom of two sons, Monson said she felt a call to the ministry one day at church.
“I was sitting in a pew one Sunday in church and the pastor, whom I had known for many years said something to the whole congregation: ‘You are a beloved child of God.’ And I heard that in my soul and thought, ‘That’s a message that’s worth sharing with other people,'” Monson recounted.
“It wasn’t right away and instantaneous that I thought I had to be a pastor but I kind of started investigating what that would mean,” Monson added. “I started moving into lay ministry and gradually started taking seminary classes. My youngest son was five when I started seminary and he’s now 20, so it took me awhile to get where I am now, but that’s kind of what happened and how it worked.”
Monson earned her Master of Divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary in 2020.
She said she then “finished up an internship in Georgia, where I was living and in the Lutheran tradition, people are called to a place for the first time before they’re ordained, so that’s how that works.”
Monson came to her calling at First Lutheran Church, where Western North Dakota Bishop Craig Schweitzer ordained her before a congregation that welcomed her with applause and a reception after the service.
Monson’s family also attended the service.
“They were pretty enthusiastic,” Monson said. “My mom is so super proud of me. This is, I think something that she might have done if times had been different so she was really excited to be here for that event and I feel like she really enjoyed that vicariously. She may be back in the next couple of weeks because she would like to see more of Rugby and see what this is about. I think my family had a good time here.”
Monson said her youngest son was spending a week with her in Rugby before he returned to college in Oregon.
“I love this town,” Monson said of Rugby. “Before moving to Georgia, I lived in a town of about 1,500 in Washington State, so small town life isn’t new to me. What seems unique about Rugby is how much community spirit I experience here. People are proud of Music in the Park; they’re proud of their walking path and they’re just proud of all the things Rugby has to offer and that’s what makes it feel like a really exciting place.”
Monson added, “That kind of enthusiasm attracts more enthusiasm. That seems really good for the health of the community. It’s fun to be here.”
Pastor Sharon Baker and Monson minister to both the First Lutheran congregation in Rugby and Leeds Lutheran Church, Leeds.
“In a different way, Leeds is also a really fun community,” Monson said. “It’s really tiny. You can walk down the street and everybody knows everybody. It’s a really close-knit place. I have really enjoyed my conversations with people there and their understanding of history and community life and all of the churches that have led to that congregation.”
Monson said she hopes to share the talents she’s developed as a teacher in her pastoral work.
“I like to preach, but I also like to do reading and I like to find ideas that I can share in new ways with people,” Monson said. “I think part of my work is just to take the amazing amount of scholarship that’s available and make that easily accessible to people who may not have time or interest in reading big, scholarly tomes. That part’s fun.”
Monson said she also hopes to share the message that “God’s love for everyone, no excuses, no exceptions for that understanding – I’m enthusiastic about my work and I think that’s kind of infectious for people.”
“I enjoy spending time with youth – my first week here, I got to go to confirmation camp at Lake Metigoshe,” Monson said. “Spending time with people in unconventional contexts and sort of sharing that good news is what I like to do best.”
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