Pastor Jeff Vore is a firm believer in Romans 8:28— We know that all things God work together for the good, for those who love God. His path to ministry includes a journey of several directions with nudges from God along the way.
He grew up working around and loving animals in Ohio. He was hoping to be a veterinarian, but God had another plan in mind.
"I wanted to be a veterinarian since about junior high," says Pastor Jeff Vore, a member of the 2020 Dakotas Conference class of retirees. "I spent some time working on a farm and fell in love with the work."
Vore headed to Ohio State University, majoring in animal science with a nutrition minor. He applied to veterinary school three times but did not get accepted. "I had all of the experience and personal relationships needed to get into vet school," says Vore. "I struggled to get the grades that were required."
So he began working for Purina, thinking he would work with the company a couple of years and then move on to something different. He ended up working for Purina for 30 years. The job brought his family to locations all over the United States, making a move every couple of years.
The church was not a big part of his life. One day his mother came to visit and coached his wife, Bonnie, to get Vore to go to church. "We were living in Pennsylvania, and we started going to church more often. It was better than sitting around and doing nothing on Sundays."
As his kids got older, they began going to church more often. He felt another nudge from God. The family attended a small church that his wife and mother had thought Jeff would enjoy. They started going more and more often, and he began to put all of his free time into the church. God nudged him to do more.
Vore says, "As the kids got older, we began going to church more often. It felt that there was something in the back of my mind telling me that there was more to my religious journey. There was more to learn."
By 1993, Vore had no other social life outside of the church. He began taking part in committees and giving all of his free time to the church. Ten years into his faith experience with the congregation, the church's pastor was appointed to a different church. The congregation experienced several interim pastors who just did not quite fit. Vore's efforts shifted to the processes that keep the church running.
In 2008, he began doing some consulting work for a company that produced equipment used to feed vast cattle lots based on their production. The work took him to Amarillo, Texas, commuting back and forth to his family. The job required travel to dairies, anywhere between 4 to 6 hours. Vore had lots of time to think, pray, and listen.
"I began to pay attention to what God was presenting to me," he says. "One day, it became extremely clear that I was being called to strengthen my faith and help others grow closer to God as well."
He immediately apologized to the company and quit the job. It was a major nudge from God to answer His call to become a spiritual leader.
Vore took classes and became a licensed pastor. Becoming a licensed local pastor became the pathway to ministry for Vore. His age, career experience, and family guided the decision.
"Because of my age, I decided that it would be more beneficial if I became a licensed local pastor, rather than an ordained elder," says Vore. "By the time I finished the course of study, I accumulated more age and quite a sum of student debt."
He accepted an appointment to the same church where he was intensely involved with The Ark in North Sioux City, South Dakota. The church moved through a couple of different buildings based on the congregation's needs at the time.
Ministry has taught him to care for the children and nurture their growth and understanding in God. In his experience, many young families want a growing Sunday school program, but it is a struggle to have enough volunteers who want to be involved in children's and youth ministry. He feels blessed to have someone following him in ministry that is gifted in working with young families.
"She (Pastor Christine Cappetta) does a wonderful job with the kids. She has a passion for the youth group. She also has a mom's group," says Pastor Jeff.
In retirement, Pastor Jeff is looking forward to spending more time with his three grandchildren. His ministry will continue at an assisted center where he holds a worship service and makes care visits.
"I am stepping back but am still willing to help with anything the church may need," he says. "It is important to work with the assisted living center. The isolation is having some severe effects on people's stability."
The COVID-19 pandemic and other tensions in the world affirm Vore's faith. He finds his strength in the Lord. "Wherever you are, whatever is going on, it's not over. Things will always come to pass if we stay strong in what we believe, then we can see his plan start to come together," he says.