Spokane will be home, for the first time, to the conference minister of the Washington-North Idaho Conference of the United Church of Christ.
The Rev. Randy Hyvonen is based in Spokane, while the previous conference minister’s office was in Wenatchee.
Through a poll of area members, Spokane was determined as the favored spot for the conference minister’s office, Hyvonen said.
He began work Aug. 15 in his office at Westminster United Church of Christ, 412 S. Bernard.
Hyvonen has extensive experience as a pastor and administrator. Most recently, he spent four years as the Ohio Conference minister, and prior to that he served in a parish in Cleveland, Ohio.
Now 51, he was ordained in 1973, with stints as a teacher and home repairman before and after his ordination.
His road to becoming a pastor was a long one, starting with a childhood spent participating in church.
“I was always active in the church growing up,” Hyvonen said.
When he was 19, he volunteered through the church to spend a summer in Germany. Years later, he returned to Berlin to teach religion for two years, which was a “stimulating, growth-inducing kind of thing.”
While in Germany, Hyvonen met a pastor who made him think seriously about entering the ministry. So he enrolled in seminary in what he calls his “exploring mode.”
Hyvonen found his varied background, including his construction experience, to come in handy.
He was able to save expenses by doing repair work at the churches where he was pastor. And besides, he said, Jesus was a carpenter, wasn’t he?
Because he was raised in Montana, moving to Spokane is like coming home, Hyvonen said. He looks forward to visiting each of the 86 conference churches and anticipates spending each Sunday in a different church, whether he’s preaching or simply worshiping alongside church members.
While putting miles and miles on his car, Hyvonen will work with conference pastors in a variety of ways. He describes himself as a “pastor to the pastors,” who also helps connect pastors and churches.
“We help pastors find churches and churches find pastors,” said Hyvonen. “In a sense it’s like (being) a bishop, but I don’t have the authority an Episcopal bishop would.”
Hyvonen’s official installation ceremony will be Oct. 11 at 2:30 p.m. at Westminster, at the corner of Fourth and Washington. All area UCC members are invited; dinner will follow.
For more information on the installation ceremony, or to make dinner reservations, call the church at 624-1366.
Hyvonen can be reached at 747-4993.
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