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The Rev. Paul Horn began his service as pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Radcliff in July 2004, but his congregation was a bit different from what he was prepared for.
“Over 90 percent of our church is military, whether active duty or retired,” he said.
Providing military ministry requires special consideration, Horn said.
“That’s not something they cover in seminary,” he said.
That seminary was Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., where he received his Master of Divinity in 2004. It is the same seminary his grandfather and great-grandfather attended.
“So it is in the family,” Horn said, noting his parents are both teachers in the Lutheran school.
Though he faced unfamiliar territory when he discovered his congregation was mostly military families, Horn soon learned how best to serve.
“Once we realized we were a training station like Fort Knox, we got it,” Horn said.
He said that involves equipping members of his congregation with what they need so they are prepared wherever they might go.
Among other things to that end, deploying soldiers are provided with MP3 players containing sermons, devotionals and the New Testament. Horn also is on the national Military Ministry board for the Wisconsin synod.
Born in Nebraska, Horn’s family moved to Wisconsin, first to Rhinelander and later to Milwaukee. He attended Lutheran schools until his graduation from Wisconsin Lutheran High School in 1996.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Martin Luther College in Ulm, Minn., in 2000, Horn attended seminary.
During his third year in seminary, which is an internship year, Horn served as vicar at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“That really solidified it for me,” he said of becoming a pastor.
When Horn and his wife found out they would be going to Radcliff, it was unfamiliar to them.
“We had to look it up on a map,” Horn said.
Though he and his family did not experience culture shock, Horn did note a slower pace in the Radcliff community and the area. He strives to make sure his church is a valuable part of that community.
Horn cited scripture about being all things to all people.
“I think that means getting to know your community,” he said.
After community surveys revealed a desire by the community for more youth-oriented activities, Horn and his church began a youth program for sixth- through 12th-graders. Youth group members run their meetings and plan their activities under the guidance of two couples in the church with Horn providing spiritual guidance.
Faith Lutheran Church also provides outreach to the German-speaking population in the area. The church typically holds services in German three times annually, Horn said.
That doesn’t mean the church is without challenges.
Among those, he said, is dealing with those who have had bad church experiences in the past.
On the other hand, in his eight years as pastor, Horn has seen his church grow, moving from a storefront to a new building. That new church on East Lincoln Trail Boulevard was dedicated only a year ago and the congregation of 228 has already just about outgrown it, he said.
Because the church was built with an eye to possible expansion, he said, enough property was included to accommodate additions.
“I think building again might be in the future,” Horn said. “It’s up to the congregation.”
By providing a place of worship imbued with items of meaning and symbolism relating to its faith, Horn feels he offers his congregation understanding about their religion. In the sanctuary, for example, the handmade pulpit, altar and font were created with symbols and elements that purposefully represent aspects of the Lutheran faith.
“We stand for something,” Horn said. “But at the same time we do so in a loving way.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE ABOUT PAUL HORN:
City of birth: Beatrice, Neb.
City of residence: Radcliff.
Family: Wife, Rebecca; and five children.
Favorite music: “I listen to everything,” he said.
Favorite books: Historical nonfiction; currently reading “The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate's Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History.”
Favorite movies: James Bond movies, “Tommy Boy” and “Happy Gilmore.”
Favorite TV shows: “Survivor,” “The Office” and “Band of Brothers.”
Hobbies: Tennis, hunting, hiking, spending time with family.