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Hastings is leaning into God's call

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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Rev. Kim Hastings. Photo by jlynn studios.

When Kim Hastings was six years old, she would memorize the pastor's part of communion and repeat the steps at home or with her friends.

“I would repeat what the pastor did. I thought that was normal,” said Hastings. “I look back on that now and realize God was calling me.”

Kim Hastings grew up attending First United Methodist Church in Pierre, South Dakota.

“When my mom and dad were expecting me, they went church shopping. The United Methodist Church in Pierre felt like family. Together with that church, they raised my brother and me,” said Hastings.

That church family made a difference in Hastings's life and her call to ministry. They lived out the baptismal promise to teach her and her brother about the love of Jesus.

“The pastor and the other people in the church took our baptismal vows very seriously,” said Hastings. “The congregation was serious about helping raise the child in the faith. That was something they did well.”

Camp ministry helped Pastor Kim grow in her faith. A member of the congregation, Iva Laudermith, who became a licensed local pastor, made sure kids in the congregation got a chance to go camping.

“It was important to her that kids experience camp,” said Hastings. “Camp was and continues to be big for me. I grew in my faith at camp.”

Hastings first recognized her call to pastoral ministry in high school. “I was probably a sophomore or junior in high school. I was at Leadership Training Camp at Lake Poinsett Camp and Retreat Center. I just felt a stirring in my heart,” she said. “I didn't understand how I could be a pastor because I was a female. I did not know any female pastors.”

After high school, Hastings headed to Black Hills State University. She got a degree and a job. “I just went about my business. I had loans to pay off. So I didn't think too much about it,” Hastings said.

In 2019 she got a message from Rev. Kori Lehrkamp to help as a leader at “The Rock that Doesn't Roll” camp for middle school students. That was a key turning point.

“My initial reaction was, did she message the right person? She said yes. I went, and it was an amazing experience,” Hastings said.

One night, after sitting around the campfire and listening to one of the other counselors tell their story of how through they were being called to ministry, Hastings felt the same stirring of feelings she had at Leadership Training Camp.

“I had conversations with the dean of the camp and the other counselors at the camp. It was finally like, ‘All right God, I will try it your way,’” said Hastings.

She got home on Friday night from camp and immediately wrote a letter to the district superintendent about her call. “I had no idea what would happen. I was 30, and wondered, ‘how do you upend your life and head to seminary?’” said Hastings.

The Kairos program was the answer. She applied to the program that summer and was accepted. The rest is history.

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Pastor Kim Hastings breaks bread for communion at Salem Unite.

Her first appointment was at Beach United Methodist Church in Howard, South Dakota. “Howard was great,” said Hastings. “My only church experience was First UMC in Pierre. I had no experience in a small-town church and how that shaped me. But the people in Howard offered me so much grace. I learned to lead and find who I am as a leader and a preacher.”

After one year, Pastor Kim found a need for a pastor in Salem at Unite Church. “I learned about the need and knew that there was somebody in Howard who could step into ministry.”

Diane Stangohr, a member of Beach UMC, has coordinated a community meal for several years. Hastings saw something special in her. Stangohr had taken steps to become a certified lay leader and speaker.

“When I would miss a Sunday, she would preach on those Sundays,” said Pastor Kim. “The second Sunday of the month, she went to a United Methodist congregation in Esmond and would preach for them. Finally, she came to me and said, ‘I have felt I'm called to do more. I don't know what it looks like. I don't know what it means. I know that I'm 60, and I'm ready to do more. God's calling me to do more.’”

For Hastings, it was a humbling experience. She could walk alongside someone as they explored a call for pastoral ministry. “I didn't prompt here calling,” Hastings said. “I was there to listen. It was a gift from God.”

The past three years have created challenges for all church leaders in The United Methodist Church with a pandemic, racism, and a denominational divide. Yet, Hastings leans into her call and is facing the challenges as she currently serves Unite Church in Salem, South Dakota.

“I think God has been at work. I'm learning a lot about myself. I'm learning a lot about what it truly feels like to live in the church's future in a post-COVID time. It's going to be uncomfortable. But, if we really lean into the uncomfortableness, we are creative leaders. We could return to the church that feels like home. A genuinely relational church, caring about everyone, leaning on the story of the resurrected Jesus.”

UMC

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