Chad Trunkhill was installed as the senior pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Denison on August 4. Pastor David Loeschen retired in July.
Trunkhill said in his short time in Denison he has grown to love the community.
“Denison’s really not a small town, but it has that small town feel to it,” Trunkhill said. “I love going out to a restaurant and seeing 10 people I know.”
He said he had dinner with in-laws at Majestic Hills Bar & Grille last Friday and saw four different groups of congregation members while he was there.
“It’s like a huge family,” he said. “It really is.”
Trunkhill grew up in Algona and graduated from high school there in 1994.
He decided to become a pastor and enrolled at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is where he met his wife, Brenda.
They moved to St. Louis, where he attended seminary, but he soon decided to take a break.
“I decided to do something close to being a pastor, so I sold used cars,” he said.
“That’s a joke,” he was sure to point out.
Trunkhill sold cars for four years, working his way up to being a business development manager over six franchises.
“I was finally making great money and I decided ‘Now would be a great time to go back to seminary,” he said. “We had a mortgage and a new car payment and we just had our second child. That’s when I went back to seminary.”
He graduated in 2008.
At the time, Brenda was an editor for Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, which is the publishing arm of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
“They kept us in St. Louis so she could keep that call, so I was pastor of mission and outreach (at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection) in St. Louis,” Trunkhill said.
At that time, he founded Hands in Service Ministries, which is a disaster response/home-rebuilding ministry.
“We traveled to Louisiana when (hurricanes) Ike and Gustav hit,” he said.
“We did a lot of rebuilding down there. We also were first responders in Joplin (Missouri) when the tornado went through there,” Trunkhill added.
The ministry stayed busy rebuilding dilapidated bathrooms on weekends and also built a three-room addition for a girl in a wheelchair.
He was then called to be a senior pastor at Hutchinson, Kansas.
“I was there for about six years,” Trunkhill said. “While I was there, my wife was still working for Concordia Publishing House at first. Then we decided what the community really needed was childcare, so we opened up a childcare for birth through preschool for 83 students.”
Brenda became the director of the childcare center, which was a collaboration with the local community.
Trunkhill was then called to California, where he merged a smaller, struggling church with a larger church.
California didn’t stick for him and he jumped at the chance to return to the Midwest.
“Usually it takes a month to deliberate a call to see if it’s the right fit for you and you come and visit,” he said.
He received the official call for the position in Denison on a Sunday and had the paperwork done by Tuesday.
Trunkhill announced his intention to take the position by the next weekend.
His son is a senior in high school. Rather than bring him to Denison to enroll him in his fifth high school, Brenda and both of their children returned to Hutchinson, Kansas.
“It’s a familiar place for them,” Trunkhill said. “Next year my wife and daughter will move up here with me and my son will go off to college.”
The Our Savior congregation is very healthy, vibrant and young and he is not worried about its strength, he said.
The church’s family life minster recently accepted a call to Wisconsin, which will be an opportunity to step back and look at the goals for the next one to 10 years, he said.
The church will consider how to reach those goals by bringing the right people in.
Trunkhill said childcare is an area of need that should be addressed in Denison.
“The overall number one thing that I think is in need in the community that I’ve seen so far is childcare,” he said.
He plans to work on that problem.
Trunkhill has two leisure activities that he loves to do.
The first is to ride his 2000 Harley Davidson Road King.
“If I can get away to go to Sturgis with my mom and dad and older brother and his wife, we love to run the canyons up there,” he said.
The second is barbecue.
“The BBQ fest was a great thing to come to Denison to experience,” he said.
When he first introduced himself to the congregation, one person asked him three questions.
“Do you love football?” he was asked.
Trunkhill’s answer was yes. He loves watching high school football and likes traveling to see Denison play.
“Do you like to fish?”
He said he hasn’t fished in forever, but he likes to hunt and he’ll fish if he gets the chance.
The last question was, “Do you like to drink beer?”
“I’ve been known to have a ‘Lutheran lemonade’ in my life,” was Trunkhill’s answer.
“You’ll fit in just fine,” he was told. “You found the right place.”