ELBURN – Elburn Community Congregational United Church of Christ recently selected the Rev. Jim Fisher as its new pastor.
Fisher’s sermon Aug. 27 began with a personal story about a recent birthday present he gave his mother – a DNA test. He started out by telling the congregation that humans share 50 percent of our DNA with a banana. He said that as human beings only a fraction of 1 percent of our DNA is unique from our fellow man.
“Are we so dazzled by our differences that we fail to see our similarities?” he said.
This personal sharing is one of the reasons the search committee thought Fisher would be a good choice for minister of the Elburn Community Congregational United Church of Christ.
“Everyone [on the search committee] felt he was a good match for our church,” said Theresa Biddle, a member of the search committee. “He doesn’t seem to have any judgments. People [in the church] are comfortable with him. He’s been welcoming and accepting of everyone.”
The search process for a new minister has taken a long time, she added.
The church has only enough funding for a part-time minister – Fisher will be at the church on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays – so that narrowed down the pool of candidates, she said.
Carl Diesel, another member of the search committee, said they were looking for someone to help grow the congregation – someone with enthusiasm.
“He’s very down to earth with the message,” he said. “He’s likable; he has a nice personality.”
Diesel said if people come to one of Fisher’s church services, they will come back.
He noted that Fisher, who started his ministry on Aug. 1, jumped right in to help out with Elburn Days.
“He was here peeling apples and making apple pies,” Diesel said.
Fisher, 51, grew up in Rockford, where he studied economics at Rockford College, now known as Rockford University. After his senior year, he decided not to follow that path. He began thinking about a career as a minister, but realized he would have to know a lot more about life.
He worked for several airlines and did some traveling. He participated in a class called Education for Ministry through the Episcopal Church and graduated from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2014.
For the past three years, he has preached weekly at the Village of Victory Lakes senior living facility in Lindenhurst. He laughingly refers to it as preaching boot camp, as it was his first opportunity to preach every week.
He said he now feels prepared for the assignment in Elburn.
What does he hope to accomplish here? He believes that his challenge is to find ways to talk about the Holy Spirit that make it more accessible to people.
“We’re living in difficult times,” Fisher said. “The role of a church and its pastor is to overcome life’s difficulties with a message of comfort and hope. Jesus’ message carries with it healing power for us living today in this crazy world.”