Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wabasso and Trinity Lutheran Church near Sanborn have a new pastor – literally and figuratively. Outgoing pastor Brech left the congregations with 39 years of experience. Incoming pastor Dan Larsen just graduated from seminary in St. Louis this spring and is now serving in his first calling. Larsen grew up in south Florida in the Fort Lauderdale area and lived there most of his life.
He graduated from high school in 2005 and went to the University of Florida where he received a degree in material science and engineering.
“I never used my degree,” Larsen said. “I went right on to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.”
It is a bit of a jump going from material science and engineering to pastoral studies and serving as a pastor, but Pastor Larsen made the jump easily.
“I grew up in the church down in Flor-ida,” he said. “People have always told me that I’m a good public speaker and that I would make a good pastor, but my passion was always with science and math – it’s what I was good at doing. So that is what I pursued all the way to my senior year of college. Then I finally got some laboratory experience my senior year and I just hated it.
“I learned that I love reading about that stuff and learning about it, but I’ll let someone else do the research and I’ll read about it later.”
Larsen said everyone he knew in the church told him he should be a pastor, and that God sometimes speaks to us through other people.
He decided to take their advice and hasn’t regretted it for a minute.
“A big push for me was the summer before my senior year, I spent a lot of time in Portu-gal,” he said. “It started with a week-long college mission trip overseas. But being from south Florida, I knew a lot of Spanish. Once I figured out that Spanish and Portuguese are basically the same language, I was able to communicate all of a sudden.
“The pastor (in Port-ugal) was so im-pressed he invited me to return for the remainder of the summer and teach English to him, his family and the church congregation.”
Larsen’s home congregation gladly raised the money for his plane ticket, and he spent the next six weeks living with a pastor in Portugal.
“The pastor there paid for everything else,” Larsen said. “I got to live in his house, and got to see him be a pastor – behind the scenes.”
His experiences there compelled him, when the time came, to go to seminary.
Page 2 of 2 - Larsen graduated from Concordia Semin-ary May 18, 2012 and has now moved in to the parsonage in Wa-basso with his wife, Stacy, and is serving his first congregations.
Oddly enough, Stacy’s parents are Jay and Cindy Lessman of Lamberton. The couple met at his home congregation in Florida where she taught.
They dated for a couple of years, got married about one year ago, and are now ex-pecting their first child – a boy – in October.
“We wanted to be close to her family,” he said, “and now that we are going to have a child, this is a great place to be.
“I don’t like the environment in south Flori-da for raising a family.
“So we are very happy to be here.”