Twenty Five Years In The Pulpit
By Kevin Fox
Rev. Ken Beckmann of the St. Paul United Church of Christ will be observing his 25th year of preaching the Word of God. He has been in Kahoka for 15 of those years. This past week, this reporter was honored to spend some time with Rev. Beckmann as he reflected on those 25 years. For Rev. Beckman life began in Hermann, Missouri where he had a normal childhood and had the same experience that most all of us had growing up in the Midwest. His father was as Rev. Beckmann described, “A very good man’. His father worked in a shoe factory. It was Rev. Beckmann’s mother and grandmother who had the most religious influence on the young man and to whom he added he owes a great deal. Both women were able to see him become ordained, but his father did not. Rev. Beckmann grew up in the UCC Church in Hermann. Later when it came down to what he would do with his life, he felt drawn or called in two directions. One was to serve the Lord as a minister. The other was to become a professional in the field of astronomy. There was an opening in the seminary in Bangor Maine the Rev. Beckamnn had to make a decision about when a advisor called him and said, “We are all ready for you we have this opening but we cannot keep it unfilled much longer. How soon are you coming?” So Rev. Beckman and his wife Marshia and their children made the move. Rev. Beckmann stated, “At that time with all this falling in place, I felt the Lord was calling me to go into the ministry in Bangor.” While in seminary Rev. Beckmann also served a small church just outside of Bangor with a congregation between 50 and 100 people. The church had never had a full time pastor of its own and had always been served by students of the seminary, which is one of the oldest seminaries in the country. The class that Rev. Beckmann graduated in began with over 100 students and upon graduation it had been whittled down to 19. Rev. Beckmann stated, “I and my family had a very special time in that church and we enjoyed it immensely. I was also happy that I chose the ministry as God has blessed me in many many ways. Of course Marshia is one of those blessings, as she is the other half of my ministry.”
After Bangor, the Beckmanns went to Indiana, which Rev. Beckmann described as a “Good ministry”. They remained in Indiana until 1987 when they took a church in Michigan where they remained for around eight years. He enjoyed that church a great deal as it provided an opportunity to grow. Then in 1995, Rev. Beckmann came to Kahoka.
When asked how the ministry has changed over the 25 years, Rev. Beckmann responded, “The message hasn’t changed, but we in the ministry are constantly trying to find a way to present it and to reach the congregation. I mean who would have believed that the Internet would have came about 25 years ago. It is a wonderful thing, but like all things it is not completely for good either. One of the ways, which we try to get our congregation more involved, is in projects such as “Ladder of Faith”. We take pictures of when a baby is presented to the congregation and again at baptism, and when in the 4th grade we present the children Bibles and we take pictures of that day and just last Sunday we recognized our graduates and that’s photographed. These rites of passage mean a great deal and they want to be here for them. I love Christian education and thanks to many of our members, we have a puppet ministry that reaches a lot of people in a way that’s special. We also have a children’s choir and adult choir and those also reach people and get them involved.
But ministry always comes down to a pastor getting the congregation to understand just how loving God is and how far he has come for us. If there is a space between you and God, it was not Him who made the move. As far as what makes for a good ministry it is a pastor and their congregation working together for a common goal. You know a minister cannot do
it alone nor can a congregation. But it’s very exciting to see what is possible through the Lord when he is working in both the minister and the congregation. As far as there ever coming a time when I want to step down and retire, I just cannot see it. I love what I do and it’s very special work because it’s His work. “
While Rev. Beckmann enjoys all aspects of his ministry, of late he is getting a great deal of satisfaction from the religious music, which he has written and performed. But whether behind the keyboard or the pulpit or shaking hands with the children as they leave the church, Rev. Beckmann’s zeal for his ministry is obvious. We wish him many more years in his service to his Savior and His people.