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The Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck is the new pastor of Worthington’s First United Methodist and Emmanuel United Methodist churches. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)

Flinck assumes pastoral lead at local Methodist churches

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WORTHINGTON — There’s a new voice preaching in the pulpits of Worthington’s First United Methodist and Emmanuel United Methodist churches (UMC).

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The Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck, who officially began his local duties on July 1 and most recently served for five years as the pastor at St. Croix Valley UMC in Lakeland, is delighted to be in a less urban setting as he embarks on his 24th year of ministry.

“The sense of community we’re discovered here already is like a breath of fresh air,” said Flinck, a native of Coleraine. “We absolutely feel so comfortable and love it here.”

Flinck was called to Worthington following the recent retirement of the two local UMCs’ longtime pastor, Gordon Orde.

“Obviously, I have a lot to do in getting to know the congregations, to help walk with them and be their servant leader, but I recognize there are a number of great ministries ongoing in both churches right now,” said Flinck.

“Both First and Emmanuel have a strong focus on missions, and even the bus that picks up people for Sunday morning worship is an example of the phenomenal kinds of ministry that work to help people stay connected. I celebrate those things coming in.”

Over the past 24 years, Flinck has also served Methodist congregations in Norcross, Fergus Falls, and Vernon Center/Amboy.

Although Flinck’s family, which included nine siblings, was always active in the Methodist church — and his mother served as church choir director throughout his childhood — his call to a life of ministry wasn’t immediate.

“I came from a business background and worked for 12 years at a wholesale company,” explained Flinck. “Looking back, I can see how God placed me in certain positions at different times to prepare me for ministry.

“As an example, when I was a sales manager, my boss thought I should improve my speaking ability, so he sent me to the 14-week Dale Carnegie course for public speaking, where I learned to deliver two and a half minute speeches confidently.”

While Flinck admits his sermons usually exceed that time limit, he feels that experience helped him gain the skill of speaking concisely and comfortably in front of others.

“I can see how God’s hand led and guided me into the ministry, which was life-changing for me, and I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Flinck.

After graduating from Greenway High School in Coleraine, Flinck earned a B.A. in management from the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth. Later, he received his Master of Divinity degree at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, and in 2004, a doctorate from Drew University in Madison, N.J.

He will celebrate his 39th wedding anniversary with wife Nancy in August. She has already begun working at Golden Horizons, and the couple has three adult children — daughters Erin and Liz and son Erik — as well as five grandchildren.

Because Erin’s husband Josh works in the U.S. Navy’s legal department and will spend the next 12 to 18 months stationed in Afghanistan, she and their four sons (third-grader Evan, kindergartner Wyatt and four-month-old twins Alexander and Grant) have also made the move to Worthington and are currently living with the Flincks.

“It reminds me of when our own three kids were growing up,” smiled Flinck. “It’s fun, but a little taxing. Still, you do everything you can to support your family, and it really helps us identify with the military families that sacrifice a great deal when their loved ones go overseas to help protect freedoms around the world.”

Flinck, an avid and enthusiastic musician, jumped right into community activities; he spent the month of July as a trombonist in the “Amazing” Worthington City Band, noting he had played in the Coleraine city band earlier in his life.

“I’m so impressed by Jon Loy’s leadership and the support this community gives the city band,” said Flinck, who is also a tenor and percussionist. “Music is very important to me, and I really applaud Worthington for the focus music receives in the community and school district here.

“It’s a great thing because music speaks to the heart.”

Challenges undoubtedly lie ahead in his new town and churches, Flinck acknowledges, but he says he is ready to face them.

“We’ve met so many wonderful people already, and I look forward to meeting even more in this community,” Flinck said. “We’re just thrilled to be here.”

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