Pastor finds a place to call home

PRINCETON – When Paul Brown looks at Immanuel Lutheran Church, he sees potential.
Potential for the church to grow. Potential for members of the congregation to come together. Potential to create a sense of belonging.
“I see this church as being a place to call home, a place to be with a family in faith,” Brown said.
And he should know.
Brown was installed as pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church on Oct. 16.
“The people have been so friendly, warm and welcoming,” Brown said.
“It seems like a good place to be,” he said.
And that’s not only because Immanuel is home to some of the best pie bakers in the region.
Brown’s journey to Immanual Lutheran wasn’t a long one.
He came from Faith Lutheran Church in Isle, where he served for about two years. Before that, he served in Forest Lake for 14 years.
His wife, Brenda, works with Edward Jones Investments in Forest Lake. The couple has three grown children: Adam, Aaron and Anne.
Brown enrolled at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where he says he was called to the church during his first year of studies. After graduating from Luther College, he enrolled in Luther Seminary in St. Paul. He went to a church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for 2 1/2 years right out of the seminary. He then went to churches in East Grand Forks, Minnesota; Aneta, North Dakota; and Valley City, North Dakota for five years before his 14 years of service Forest Lake. He then was called to Isle.
In Isle, Brown found people who were very genuine, down-to-earth, had a love for their community, and had a love for their church.
He expects to find the same qualities in the people of Princeton and Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Immanuel is a good fit for the Browns, he said.
Immanuel thought so, too, because it called Brown to the church.
“I like the feel of the community,” Brown said.
And through the people he’s met on the call committee, the church council and at a congregation meet-and-greet in his honor, Brown can say with great authority that the people of Princeton are warm and welcoming.
“I like a church that wants to grow, and this is a church that wants to grow,” he said.
He cited the church’s BeFriender Ministries program, the Pie Bakers and well-attended Bible study programs as areas of growth within the church.
Since Brown has arrived in Princeton and was installed as pastor, Immanuel has shifted from one Sunday worship service to two Sunday worship services with a traditional service at 8 a.m. and a contemporary service at 10:15 a.m., Brown said. A coffee hour is offered between services, as well as Sunday school from 9-10 a.m. The church has also hired retired Princeton school teacher Sue VanHooser as its new director of children’s ministry.
“With her in place, I see a new emphasis on youth programs and ministry,” Brown said.
Through the children’s ministry, Immanuel should continue to see younger families getting involved in the church, he said.
“The middle aged and older members of the congregation are very involved already,” Brown said.
“The younger families, we want them to see the church with a sense of belonging,” he said.
Outside of the church, Brown enjoys tennis, racquetball, golf, reading, traveling and cycling. He also enjoys community theater and was a founder of the Northern Lights Community Theatre in Isle.
“I enjoy being involved in theater both on and off the stage,” he said. He enjoys singing in musicals, too.
However, Brown’s true passion lies in stained glass, which explains the stained glass workshop in his basement. He also has a side business in stained glass, he said.
Brown states on his business website: “I have been a stained glass artist for 12 years. Much of my work is crafted with the influence of the styles of Frank Lloyd Wright ‘Light Screens’ and the Arts and Crafts Movement.”
A sign that Brown is in the right place at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Princeton might be found in the beauty of the church’s own stained glass.
In late 2013 Immanuel installed 14 stained glass panels with each of the stained glass panels telling a story from the Bible. As you face the altar, the six panels on the left tell stories from the Old Testament. Seven panels on the right depict happenings in the New Testament.