The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Dan Carlson
Prairie Ponderings 

Leaving Will Be Hard


February 23, 2022 | View PDF

Change, even good chance, can be hard.

That’s what Karen and I are learning as we prepare to leave Cheyenne County for our new home in Belle Fourche, SD. This reality has been driven home as good friends we’ve made here share the impact we’ve had in their lives over the years, often impact we may not have known about until it was shared.

I arrived in Sidney in October of 2004 as I transitioned from a 25-year career in TV and radio to a new position as a writer for Cabela’s. Karen and the kids came a couple of years later as they’d remained at our home near Rapid City trying to get it sold. We eventually settled in a house next to Jo Houser’s on San Marino Road and lived there until 2011 when we bought our small farm just east of Gurley.

As I worked at Cabela’s, Karen worked as a dental hygienist in Sidney, first for Dr. Mike Nehl, and then at LifeSmiles where she’ll continue to work up until our planned move in late April.

Karen has only two more years to go to reach her goal of working as a hygienist for 40 years, but she’s set that aside to support my move into full-time pastoral ministry this year.

Based on the hugs and kind words she’s been getting from those whose teeth she’s helped care for over the last several years, she’s had a positive impact in the lives of many in the area.

I’ve been humbled by the feedback I’ve received in recent days, even if it was from those who’ve informed me that I “can’t leave.” Between relationships made at Cabela’s, Nexgen Outfitters, Dan’s Weather Page, Sidney Shooting Park, Gurley Lions Club, Leyton School District and my writings in this paper, I’ve been blessed beyond measure for God to allow my life to intersect with those of so many wonderful people. But perhaps the closest relationships I’ve had in recent years were formed while serving on the board of Community Shepherds and co-pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church at Weyerts and United Church of the Plains in Dalton.

I came as an outsider to those ministries in the fall of 2018. My background was decidedly different from those churches as evidenced in the first week of ministry when I asked, “What’s a lectionary?” Being a licensed minister, first in the Assemblies of God and then the Open Bible Churches denominations, I was accustomed to far less formal Sunday services. But the people were patient and I adapted without compromising my preaching style – at least not much.

Hugs and tears from those who’ve endured my preaching for nearly 3-1/2 years have made leaving difficult. I choked up with tears when a man told me he’d learned more from my teaching in recent years than he had in church his entire life. That’s God’s doing, not mine, and it told me my ministry had at least some positive impact.

But now God has called me to another field of ministry in a church Karen and I attended when we first left Minneapolis for the Black Hills in 1990. It’s a full-circle in our lives and one we embrace, even if we do so with some sadness over leaving so many wonderful people here.


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