“My whole life led up to being in the right place at the right time for many different things. I can see where the Lord prepared me. Maybe that is why I entered the ministry when I did. I can do many things that are an asset everywhere I have been in ministry,” said Rev. Ken Mund, who is retiring this year.
Pastor Ken Mund left behind 26 years as a high school band director to enter the ministry. He states he had no regrets. He loved being a band director and loved being a pastor. But, people said to him, “Why did you make this move?” He replied, “This is where the Lord is calling me. I have not doubted that once. God doesn’t grab until you are ready.”
Ken Mund grew up attending an American Lutheran Church in Mandan, North Dakota. He married a young Catholic lady. The couple found themselves crisscrossing between the two churches. Often, they would attend the church where the choir was singing to take part in that.
When the couple had children, they decided they wanted to go to only one church, so they had to pick one.
“We lived in Tappen, North Dakota, at the time. The town did not have a Catholic Church or an American Lutheran Church, so we started going to the United Methodist Church there,” said Ken.
They lived in Tappen for one year, then moved to Wishek, North Dakota. Unsure that they would continue going to the United Methodist Church, a cousin in town who went to the United Methodist Church invited them to attend. So, they did.
“While in Whishek, I found myself meeting with Reverend Ed Parker, who was serving as the pastor at the time at Wishek United Methodist Church,” said Mund. “He invited me to consider ministry. I started praying about it with my wife. I strongly considered going into the ministry when I was invited to be the band director in Watertown, South Dakota. I had always hoped to be the band director in a bigger town. I talked to Rev. Parker about it and said, ‘If I don’t do this, I'll be second-guessing myself for the rest of my life.’ He said, ‘You should go do it.’”
The couple moved and wondered if they would go to the United Methodist Church or somewhere else. About four or five retired pastors attended Ninth Avenue United Methodist Church, and Pastor Roger Spahr had just started at the church.
Mund said, “All these pastors came to visit us because Rev. Parker had called them earlier to let them know we were moving to Watertown. He told them we would sing, direct choirs, and help with Sunday School. We went there and liked it there. It was friendly; we felt like we were home. My wife, Rhonda, became the worship leader for the contemporary service.”
The Munds grew with the church. Ninth Avenue United Methodist Church built a new building and became Cornerstone United Methodist Church. Ken was the choir director and soon was in charge of everything that plugged in at that church.
“Nobody was doing it, and I could, so Pastor Roger always encouraged me to go ahead and try out the technology,” he said.
After the two Mundt children had graduated from high school and were on their own, Ken was spending most of his free time at the church. Pastor Roger told Ken, “You are here every time I come. I think it's time for you to change your life. I want you to come on staff, not as the choir director and technical director. You'll still do that. I want you to become one of our pastors.”
That wasn’t the first time that Ken found himself being invited to become a pastor. He was invited to become a Lutheran pastor as a youth, but he did not respond at the time.
“I wasn’t ready then,” Ken recalled. “But this time, God said, ‘OK, you have learned enough. It is time for you put up or shut up.’” He prayed with his wife and talked to his dad and other family members.
“We finally concluded that this is where the Lord was leading us. I started the Course of Study at Southern Methodist University School of Ministry. I gave up 26 years of being a high school band director, which I had loved. I always planned to retire as a high school band director, but God sometimes has different plans for you.”
Cornerstone became a learning opportunity to reach people through technology, scripture, and care ministry. The congregation was one of the first churches in the Conference to live stream. Pastor Ken spent time studying scripture, preaching, doing visitation and care ministry.
“We spent 29 years at Cornerstone. For 13 years, I served as a pastor. We still have great friendships there,” he said. “I appreciated the opportunity to focus on who God is in my life. To understand the importance of scripture in Christianity and my life. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on that. Then, in pastoral ministry, I realized what it is truly like to love people through their faults, including my own.”
In. 2017, Rev. Randy Cross, who served as the Northeast District Superintendent, invited Mund to serve the United Methodist Church in Bottineau, North Dakota as the pastor.
“I thought I would retire there,” said Pastor Ken. “Rev. Kermit Culver asked me to think about serving at Faith UMC and Des Lacs UMC in Minot. However, I had some health issues that required travel to Minot. We prayed about it. So, we decided to move to Minot.”
One of the blessings in his ministry is the gift of using technology to enhance worship. During COVID, it was a blessing. “There was no live streaming at Faith. Des Lacs didn’t have anything like screens or projectors,” said Pastor Ken. “During COVID, we started live streaming right away from our basement. We recorded the worship with the music. I had more fun with children’s messages during COVID. Recording from the park and other places in the community. My early training with technology paid off.”
Pastor Ken states that Rev. Ed Parker was instrumental in his pastoral journey as well as Rev. Roger Spahr. “They were instrumental in my life. My first mentor, Rev. Warren Rhoads, gave me a different perspective. He took my pastoral journey seriously,” he said.
In retirement, Pastor Ken and his wife Rhonda will move to Dallas, Texas, to be close to their grandchildren. “We want to get to know our grandchildren. We prayed and God said, ‘Yes, this is the right time to retire.’”
He will remain open to what God has planned. Pastor Ken has a connection at the Methodist Hospital in Dallas in chaplaincy. That is also where his daughter works.
“I'm grateful for opportunities to preach, do pulpit supply, and pray at civic events. I have found that I grew a real heart for the elderly. I love visitations,” said Pastor Ken.