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Pastor Rick Craig shares joy and God through photos

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Rik Craig

Pastor Rck Craig always has a camera with him. Photo by Cindy Craig.

"God gives each of us gifts and talents. We are called to use them to draw people closer to God and each other." These are the words of Pastor Rick Craig, who serves at DeLacs and Faith United Methodist Churches in Minot, North Dakota. Photography is part of his journey in ministry.

In 1973, Pastor Rick purchased a Polaroid Square Shooter. He liked taking photos and seeing things through the perspective of the camera lens. While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Craig bought a 35-millimeter camera, and his love for taking photos grew. When digitally photography launched, he started taking lots of pictures.

"I wasn't constrained by the cost to develop the film. I could take as many photos as I chose and keep the ones I wanted or print the ones I wanted," said Craig. "It's my happy place. It is something that I like to do to relieve stress."

He spends time with his wife Cindy in the pickup or car, taking photos of wildlife. They travel to places where the wildlife hang out. Cindy is excellent at spotting the animals.

"She spots them, and then she also likes to take photos of me while I'm taking photos. That's her thing," Pastor Rick shares. "I was getting a picture of a painted turtle that was crossing the road. I wanted a low-perspective shot. I just wound up lying down on the gravel road with my telephoto lens. Cindy was in a position where she could see that from the vehicle, and photos were taken. We have fun."

Photos are not only part of Pastor Rick's marriage but also of his ministry. While serving at Cando, Rock Lake, and Rolla United Methodist Churches, he created a photo calendar, which became a fundraiser for the congregations.

"It worked reasonably well. We didn't make much money, but most years we'd probably clear $1,000 to $1,200," explains Pastor Rick. "My photography is a way to make contact and connect with people. It is a great conversation starter."

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A recent photo of a canola field in bloom. Photo by Rick Craig.

As he prepares worship slides each week, Pastor Rick incorporates his photos. "There is beauty in God's creation—the wildlife, landscape, or the aurora borealis. God created all that beauty and gave us the ability to appreciate it. I'm thankful that God has given me enough talent that I can share some of that."

In his ministry appointment, Pastor Rick travels from one church to another. His camera case, which holds two cameras and several lenses, goes with him wherever he travels.

"Whether it's wildlife like hawks, turkeys or deer or whatever, you kind of need to be 'Johnny on the spot.' You need to be ready to take advantage of those opportunities," said Pastor Rick. "I have been known to leave early to get somewhere; it allows me to record those things that catch my interest. People will alert me to things, whether it's wildlife, some abandoned building, or something in nature."

Another way he incorporates photos in his ministry is by talking with groups. Pastor Rick has talked to 4-H club youth. In his past appointments, he spoke at and shared photos at assisted living centers. He is currently in conversation with an assisted living center in Minot about sharing pictures, worship, and devotions.

"When I speak to groups, I try to share photos that are local or that they are familiar to them," he said. "The photos bring them joy and back to their roots. When I speak to the 4-H youth, I share the basics of taking pictures," said Pastor Rick.

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Bishop Lanette Plambeck preached at Faith UMC in Minot and Pastor Rick captured this photo.

Facebook is the platform he utilizes to share photos digitally. People request that to use his photos, and he is happy to share them to bring people joy.  Pastor Rick receives friend requests on his Facebook page so people can catch his latest photos.  View his photo albums on  Facebook

Pastor Rick shares, "I like Facebook, and I feel that I have a better connection with people. People send me friend requests because they do like the photos. They may be familiar with North Dakota or people who once lived here and who are now living somewhere else, and they like the scenery of North Dakota. I like to share the photos. I enjoy it. There's so much interesting stuff out there, so much beauty that God has created. I like to do what I can to catch those little bits of it and share those."

As he continues his ministry journey, he hopes to improve his photography. "I hope to always get better at it and to take more images that please me and will speak to others. I have no interest in making it a profession. I really like the job I have now. Photography is just something that brings me joy on the side."

Over the years, Pastor Rick has acquired more tools. It is one of those hobbies that can get expensive, especially if you are always seeking the newest equipment and tools. He doesn't own the latest or best equipment; it is just too expensive. The investment has brought him joy, enhanced his ministry, and connected others to God.

"You know, you can fuss about where you are or look for things you enjoy. Enjoy where you are geographically, physically, emotionally, or any of those things. If you look for the things that make you happy, you'll find more joy and appreciate God's creation," said Pastor Rick.

UMC

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