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Maggie Lewis called as new pastor for Chinook and Havre Presbyterian Churches


June 27, 2018

Ardis Conrad, (center) surrounded by children from the Chinook Presbyterian Church, has just presented a stole which Maggie Lewis has draped around her shoulders. In the Presbyterian tradition a stole is worn by ordained ministers, the stole is typically worn over a robe when a minister is preaching.

The new pastor recently called to serve the Chinook and Havre Presbyterian Churches is no stranger to north central Montana. In August 2012 Maggie (Margaret) Lewis came as the first Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) to serve in Chinook. After leaving Chinook she attended the University of Iowa for a time, then began the Master of Divinity program at the University of Dubuque, also in Iowa. She completed the three year program of study in preparation for the ministry in May, 2018.

Both the Chinook and Havre Presbyterian Churches were without a regular pastor. The pastor in Havre retired at the end of 2017 and Chinook's minister retired in the summer of 2016. Both churches had committees searching for new pastors to serve their congregations. Separately the two churches were each looking for a part-time minister.

Early this spring leaders in the Glacier Presbytery (an association of the western most 18 churches in Montana) learned that Maggie Lewis had graduated from seminary. Locals knew of the bond she had made while serving as a YAV five years ago in Chinook. Marsha Anson, the Executive Presbyter, worked with a presbytery committee to devise a process for the two churches to share a minister. In the late spring Maggie Lewis accepted an offer to serve the two churches.

Marsha Anson, head of the Glacier Presbytery, said of Maggie's return to Montana as a new pastor, "God has provided an amazing blessing for the Presbyterian congregations in Chinook and Havre and all of Glacier Presbytery by calling Maggie back to be a Minister of Word and Sacrament." Citing Maggie's prior time in Chinook as a YAV (Young Adult Volunteer) Anson added, "Maggie will serve the congregations and their communities with intelligence, imagination and love. Glacier Presbytery is so delighted to have Maggie-soon to be Rev. Lewis-back with us."

Background and preparation of Maggie Lewis

Maggie graduate from Stetson University, a private college in central Florida, in 2012 with a degree in Psychology and Educational Studies. She applied to the YAV program after graduating from college. Pastor Jack Mattingly, the Site Coordinator for the YAV program in Chinook said, "After telling Maggie about Chinook and the situation here, she said, "I want to come to Chinook, what do I need to do?" Having already scheduled another interview for a position in Chicago, she told that group she was committed to going to Montana.

People who accept a YAV position make a year long commitment and must raise several thousand dollars to help support their program. The YAV program is in its 20th year with volunteers serving all over the U.S. and internationally. Chinook's site is the most rural in the nation. Part of the purpose of the YAV program is to help young adults discern their own career path or call to a special role in the church. Several other YAVs who served in Chinook are currently in seminary or recently graduated from a seminary program.

Maggie completed her YAV-year in July, 2013 and began a Masters in Social Work program at the University of Iowa. During that year she served as Youth Director for Zion Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Iowa City and was also a student intern with Hospice of Washington County in Iowa. It was during this time Maggie decided to begin a program of study to prepare for the ministry.

She enrolled in a three year program of study at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Maggie was very active at the seminary serving as a Graduate Assistant working with college freshmen to help them define goals and career interests and was a Teaching Assistant helping in a New Testament Greek course for seminarians. She was selected to attend a number of special workshops and institutes for 'rising ministers' including special programs about ministering to millennials, world missions and evangelism.

While at seminary Maggie was a Student Pastor of two United Church of Christ congregations across the Mississippi River in Wisconsin. She was also the Theological Student Advisory Delegate representing her seminary at the annual Presbyterian General Assembly, an international gathering of church leaders. She graduated with a Master of Divinity Degree and completed her written ordination exams in May, 2018.

A return to Montana

Maggie Lewis was reintroduced to the Glacier Presbytery at its quarterly retreat held in early June in Conrad. Rev. Glenn Burfeind, Pastor of Kalispell Presbyterian Church, introduced Maggie and called for the vote to accept her as a newly called minister in the presbytery. It was a unanimous vote of approval.

Members from the churches in Chinook and Havre were on hand in Conrad to be a part of Maggie's welcome. Ardis Conrad, from Chinook's church, involved the children of the Chinook church in a welcoming ceremony for Maggie and Havre church member Cory Pierson made her a balloon bouquet. It was a festive time of celebration.

The ceremony for Maggie Lewis' ordination to the ministry and installation as the new pastor for Chinook and Havre will be celebrated on Saturday, July 28. Maggie begins her pastoral duties on July 2.


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