“It’s one parish,” said Pastor Kiehn, “but three distinct congregations and communities.”
By Angel Wyrwas
Three congregations welcomed Pastor Scott Kiehn at an installation service at American Lutheran Church July 2. Pastor Kiehn will be serving the United Trinity Lutheran Parish, which includes Peace Lutheran-Plevna, American Lutheran-Baker and St. Elizabeth Lutheran in Ekalaka. “It’s one parish,” said Pastor Kiehn, “but three distinct congregations and communities.” He has been very busy this past month getting to know them.
Pastor Kiehn and his wife Peggy have been married for 35 years and have two grown sons. Born and raised around the town of Carlton, Minnesota, population 860, Pastor Kiehn says Baker is the biggest town they have ever lived in. “Even in Minnesota we lived in the country,” said Pastor Kiehn. “It will be different actually living in town.”
Upon Pastor Kiehn finishing a vo-tech degree after high school, he began working as an engineering draftsman. “For seven years I worked creating parts for machinists in the mining industry. In the 80’s we traveled to all the mines including Colstrip and Gillette,” he said.
Then he worked in management for 23 years at the Cloquet Paper Mill. “While I did that, Peggy had her own business with a portable bandsaw doing custom wood cutting for others,” said Pastor Kiehn. They even sold lumber and custom paneling. “We love participating with creation,” he said. “Every year we make maple syrup from trees on our property and harvest the wild rice and blueberries that are there.”
Though he was active in church and ministry for a long time, Pastor Kiehn completed his Master of Divinity more recently. While at the paper mill, Pastor Kiehn began feeling called to do something else. “I felt the Holy Spirit actively leading me in that direction,” he said. So he started taking classes to earn a bachelor’s degree during his time at the mill.
Then a job opportunity for a Director of Discipleship came at just the right time. “It was great. I began classes at Luther Seminary and was working at the church,” said Pastor Kiehn. “It was a lot of work but I could directly apply what I was learning.”
During school Pastor Kiehn had to complete a cross-cultural class and chose Montana. “I had been here hunting a couple of times and liked it so I came for two weeks to the Rocky Boy Reservation,” he said. “It was an amazing experience and I got to see the Montana way of life.”
Pastor Kiehn was ordained in Minnesota then moved to Montana soon after. “I asked Peggy to try Montana for three years, the minimum length of a call, to see if we liked it,” said Pastor Kiehn. They accepted a call to Sunburst, population 350. “We loved Sunburst,” he said. “We really thought we’d retire here.” But God had different plans.
The Montana Synod office told him that there was a parish that needed him. “We started the interview process thinking that something would come along and tell us it wasn’t the right fit but it never did,” said Pastor Kiehn. “We’re excited to be here and want people to know they can invite us out. We want to meet people where they are and see what they are doing.”
Pastor Kiehn has a passion for outdoor education and camping ministry. “When you’re outdoors doing something, people tend to learn easier,” he explains. “I also love adult education. Youth education is built in and valuable. But getting adults to learn and discuss the bible equips them to teach it in the home and that is a very wonderful and necessary thing.”
One of Pastor Kiehn’s favorite stories is the story of the Emmaus disciples in Luke 24. “Two disciples were walking along the road, heading to Emmaus, deep in solemn and serious discussion, when Jesus met them. They could not recognize Jesus, and saw him as a stranger. Jesus let them tell about their anxieties and pains; he emphatically listened to them, and used scriptures so that they could better understand,” explained Pastor Kiehn. “I love this because of what it demonstrates. Showing up where the people are, that’s when ministry happens.”