SIDNEY — The Rev. Robert Akins is serving as interim pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sidney, Ohio, after the retirement of the Rev. Jonathan Schriber in January.
As interim pastor, Akins will help St. John’s through the process of choosing a new pastor. Akins explains that part of his job is helping the church get a feel for who they are and what they’re looking for in a new pastor. From there, the bishop’s office will send candidates who meet the church’s requirements.
“There is a shortage of pastors right now,” Akins said.
The shortage affects all denominations, not just Lutherans.
“Finding the next pastor is not as easy as it used to be,” he said. The length of time this process will take is hard to estimate, though Akins believes it will take about a year.
Akins trained in the Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, after a 40-year career as a nurse anesthetist at the Mayo Clinic. He had been involved in the church for many years and went into the seminary once his four children were through their schooling. He became a pastor because of his passion for helping others that led him to become a nurse. He was also led to seminary by his love of leading worship.
Akins’ goal at St. John’s is to make the church better known in the community. One of his plans is to begin an outdoor ministry with local high school students. This would involve holding Sunday services outside and potentially having weekend camping trips. Akins hopes to attract youths who do not currently have a church to St. John’s. He also hopes to expand the thrift shop which the church runs.
So far, Akins says he has been impressed with the warm welcome he and his wife have received and is looking forward to their time with the church.
Akins enjoys gardening, biking and photography. He’s been married to his wife, Donna, for 52 years. They live in Englewood.
The writer is a summer intern for the Sidney Daily News.