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Our Neighbors....The Reverend David Hormann

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church of Cloquet took a step of faith by issuing a call to new pastor David Hormann - without ever having met him. But that's something that the newly installed pastor knows a whole lot about....

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church of Cloquet took a step of faith by issuing a call to new pastor David Hormann - without ever having met him. But that's something that the newly installed pastor knows a whole lot about....

He was born at a Naval base in Tennessee, just outside of Memphis, where his dad was stationed at the time.

He and his family lived there for three and a half years before his father got shipped out on the USS Enterprise. David and his mother, who was by then pregnant with his brother, moved back to their home state of Minnesota.

The young Hormann grew up in Waconia and attended Trinity Lutheran Elementary School and Lutheran High School in nearby Mayer. It was there that he met his future wife, Cindy.

"I've known Cindy since fourth grade," he related. "She hated me!" he added with a grin. "She couldn't stand me pretty much through my sophomore year. I don't know what happened then, but all of a sudden she decided I was OK. Maybe I was sweeter, nicer, kinder - whatever. We went to prom together in our junior year and then dated all through college."

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Following high school, Hormann went on to the University of Minnesota, studying business and political science, and was accepted into the William Mitchell School of Law.

"When I was 15 credits short of graduating," he related, "I pulled the plug and actually quit school. I was done. I hit the wall. All I knew was that I wasn't sure that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I'd be locked in forever if I went on."

Six months later, he and Cindy were married at the age of 21.

He went to work in the car business, and for the first six months he sold cars and was quite successful at it.

"It wasn't because I was a fast talker but because I didn't play a lot of the games that salesmen sometimes play," he reflected. "I found out that when I was straightforward with folks, they appreciated it - and I sold a lot of cars."

He soon moved up into management, working first in Brainerd for a couple of years and then in the Twin Cities for a year. It was then that he and Cindy decided that big city life was not for them.

"I'm more of a small town, country type of person," he said. "I like the fact there are trees in both our front and back yards. It was fun, it was exciting, to live in the Twin Cities, but at some point the traffic just became too much."

The Hormanns then relocated to St. Cloud for the next four years.

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Their first son, Zachary, was born during that time, followed later by the birth of their second son, Matthew.

During the early 1990s, Hormann's father-in-law, who owned an excavating business back home in Carver County, made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

"I had helped him with the business while I was in high school and college and had seven or eight years of experience operating heavy equipment for him," explained Hormann.

"He wanted a managing partner - someone to step in and become a partner in the business, but also to run the operation," Hormann continued. "I took him up on it, and we moved back to Carver County and lived on a nice little 40-acre piece of land just east of Young America."

Not only did the move put the Hormanns back within the circle of their family and home surroundings - but also back at their home church, where they soon became actively involved.

It wasn't long before he and Cindy decided they'd like to start a small group Bible study.

"We had two kids who were still little," he explained, "and we decided we might as well ask a few other couples in and start a Bible study."

They talked with their pastor, who encouraged them to give it a try, suggested that they start small and then when and if the group got to a certain size, they should probably break it out into two separate groups.

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"It never quite worked that way," Hormann admitted, "because after two and a half years, we had 130 people showing up! It was kind of crazy. It wasn't a small group any more - it was more like a small church!"

He said only about a third of the people attending were from their church, and the rest were friends they invited who weren't actively participating in a church.

"In this way," he explained, "they could hear God's word and be part of a group without it being intimidating. And it worked."

Because of the success other people saw with the rapidly growing group, Hormann's pastor one day posed to him, "Have you ever considered being a pastor?"

"Having come through the Lutheran system, going to a Lutheran grade school and high school, we had been told often that we should consider church work, but frankly I never saw myself as a pastor," Hormann admitted. "I don't exactly fit the profile. I like to hunt, I like to fish, I like working with wood...."

He kept saying no to his pastor's appeals and almost a year had gone by when one Sunday he and his wife were sitting in church and getting ready for worship, meditating and praying.

"All of a sudden Cindy hit me right in the short ribs!" Hormann smiled. "She opened up the bulletin and inside was a little blurb from one of our seminaries that said, 'If you're between the ages of 18 and 80 and have ever considered becoming a pastor, please come and talk to Scott Seiller, who will be visiting from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis."

Hormann and two others from the church visited with the seminary representative, but he was the only one of the three who took the man's advice.

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"'When it comes to knowing God's will,'" Hormann said he advised, "'you don't know it unless you try.'"

He admitted that he was still uncertain and stopped short of whole-hearted commitment until certain things began to fall into place.

"We put up all sort of little 'golden fleeces,'" he related - "'If our business sells; 'If our house and 40 acres sell'; 'If, if, if....' But surprisingly, it all came together."

And so, Hormann went back and finished his college education at Crown College, a Christian Missionary Alliance school just outside St. Bonifacious, earning a degree in Christian ministry before going on to four years of training at a Lutheran seminary just west of St. Louis, Mo.

Hormann was ordained at the age of 40, and the church sent him back to Minnesota to help start a church in Avon. The year was 2002, and his first year was spent in a vicarage (internship) with the Love of Christ Church in St. Cloud before being sent to start the new church in Avon.

"I began working there, gathering folks, starting Bible studies and visiting with people," he detailed.

His outreach with the people of the area took some traditional - and some distinctly non-traditional - forms.

"I'm a certified firearms instructor," he said, "and I held four classes a year. Avon has a lot of outdoor people, a lot of hunters and fishermen, much like Cloquet, though some just wanted to know more about firearms."

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It took him about six months to gather a group, form an idea for the new church and decide what it would take to get things going before they actually decided it would be a go - and it was.

And when things were successfully up and running, it was time for Hormann to move on.

"When you plant a new church, since you're the one who started it, it's almost as though you're looked at as the father figure," he explained. "There's a certain level of dependency, and at some point you have to let people mature in their faith and understand they have the gifts and skills to take it to the next level. More often than not, it's harder to do that with the 'planting' pastor still there."

So Hormann's overseer put his name on a few call lists just to see if it was God's will for him to move on or not.

"It's always a tricky thing," he admitted. "How do you know God's will?"

About that time, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cloquet was seeking a new pastor and Hormann's was one of a number of names that were submitted to the congregation

"In the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod," Hormann explained, "we have a self evaluation tool called a Self Study/Self Survey where we answer questions on everything from communion practice to what kind of music we like in church."

After studying the information submitted to them by prospective pastors, the folks at Our Redeemer prayed for quite some time, discussed the different sets of candidates, took a vote, and extended the call to the Reverend Hormann without ever having met him in person.

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"The people of Our Redeemer decided to do some due diligence but not overpatrol it," related Hormann, "pray about it and see what God had in store for them - because they believed He'd already picked the right guy."

Though he had also received calls to three other churches, Hormann decided Cloquet was the place for him.

"I've decided the way you know God's will is to keep walking along the path and things just fall into place," he mused. "This was a good 'fall into place' moment for us."

He arrived in Cloquet on June 29 and was installed as the church's new pastor last Sunday. Since his family owns some hunting land on Balsam Road, between Cromwell and Floodwood, he was already somewhat familiar with the area.

And though the Reverend Hormann is still very new to the congregation, he has a vision for its future.

"Part of what we really need to do is get back to serving other people," he said, " - helping find and fill the needs of people."

To that end, in August the congregation will take part in a mercy ministry called Operation Iraqi Supply, collecting humanitarian supplies for the people of Iraq, including lightweight wheel chairs, burn supplies, bandages, aspirin, or men's and women's new or "gently used" clothing.

By Sept. 14, the son of the church's Minnesota North District president, who is currently stationed in Iraq, will be handing them out to the moms and dads and kids of Iraq.

"Even if you don't support the war, it's an opportunity to help the people of the country and share the love of Jesus in a very mercy-filled way," stated Hormann. "Ideally, we want to continue to try to find ways to do that. We already have a great preschool program here, where they do a wonderful job for the children."

Reverend Hormann also said he hopes part of what his ministry can be is helping people get through some of those life changes that come along in a way that isn't just with words but has some real meaning to it.

"There's a lot of great things we can do," he concluded. "Now it's just a matter of figuring out what kinds of gifts people have and then letting them share in the ministry.... After all, Jesus said, 'Everybody will be my witnesses' - not just the guy up front in the white robe."

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