Sunday 9:00 a.m. Wells Campus
Sunday 10:30 a.m. Kiester Campus
116 North Third St. , Kiester , MN 56051
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595 First Ave. SW , Wells , MN 56097
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posted on May 24
It is the intention of Bishop Bruce Ough to appoint the Reverend Christopher Leistra as pastor of Open Doors United Methodist Church in Wells and Kiester as of July 1, 2018, and acting on behalf of the congregation, the Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee has confirmed the Bishop’s intention.
Pastor Chris Leistra’s first Sunday at Open Doors UMC in Wells and Kiester will be July 1. There will be a service of Celebrating the Appointment on July 1 at 9:00 am in Wells and 10:30 am in Kiester, followed by a pot-luck dinner in Kiester. Visitors are welcome to attend.
Pastor Chris Leistra is married to his lovely wife, Teal, and they have two children, Noah, age four, and Charlotte, five months. They will be moving into the church’s parsonage in Wells. Pastor Chris is a life-long United Methodist, having grown up as the son of a UMC pastor. He has served congregations in Blanchardville and Lamont, Wisconsin. He will be completing his Masters of Divinity at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary this August.
Pastor Chris’s hopes for the church is to work in ministry together, as a team, and provide a vision for ministry based on the work God is already doing here. He is looking forward to being involved in the community, as well.
In his spare time, Chris spends it with family, reading, and enjoys being outdoors. He hopes to take up his lost hobby of bike riding again. Teal keeps very busy being a full-time mom to Noah and Charlotte.
Pastor Paul Woolverton, who has been serving Wells UMC since 2008, Grace UMC (Kiester) since 2016, and Open Doors UMC–Wells & Kiester since 2017, will be retiring, effective July 1, 2018. His last Sunday with Open Doors UMC will be June 17. On that day, a joint worship service with all the folks from both the Wells and Kiester sites together will be held at 10:00 am at the Wells campus site. Visitors are welcome. A pot-luck dinner will follow. From 2:00-4:00 pm, a community open house will be held at Open Doors UMC–Wells for everyone to bid Pastor Paul and his wife, Becky, farewell.
During Pastor Woolverton’s time in Wells, there were many new ministries and signs of new growth and vitality that have sprung up under his leadership. In 2011-2012, energizing Wells UMC into making changes that focused on welcoming, discipleship, and outward mission, led them to create a new mission statement and logo for themselves: Loving God, Serving People. In 2016, Pastor Paul guided two congregations, Wells UMC and Grace UMC of Kiester, to merge into one church with two locations, and renaming them Open Doors United Methodist Church, giving the church in Kiester new life. Changes in worship over the ten years included adding a praise band and uplifting music, projection, tables & chairs in worship, an accessible Hospitality Room, an expanded and staffed nursery, and a recent upgrade which included new padded modular seating, carpet, lighting and paint in the sanctuary.
Pastor Paul’s work went well beyond the walls of the church. He was instrumental in the creation of USC’s Communities Fighting Student Hunger backpack program and Caring Community Outreach, the umbrella organization for the Clothes Closet. He served on the board of STARS mentor program (treasurer) and FariCares substance abuse coalition for USC, and was involved in the Wellington Apartment fire recovery, Blue Earth Community Players, Wells and Freeborn County Ministerial Associations, and played on a local dart team.
Pastor Paul and Becky Woolverton will be moving to the Hutchinson area when they leave Wells. A life of leisure will not be immediate. Pastor Paul is being nudged by God to continue in ministry. He will be serving Bethlehem UMC in Hutchinson on a three-quarter time basis for the next 12 months, which will provide time for them to do something they have been wanting to do . . . to spend time with family in New Jersey and the Midwest.
The community is invited to offer their thanks and best wishes to the Woolverton’s during the Open House on June 17 from 2-4 at Open Doors UMC–Wells, located at 595 1st Ave SW, Wells, MN. Handicapped accessible entrance in the rear.