Pastor prepares for new role, says goodbye to church family

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

When Ben Kifer pulls out of his driveway for the last time next week, he will bring with him many memories of a close church family at Grace Lutheran Church in Washington.

Kifer, a pastor at Grace Lutheran Church since 2013, is preparing for a new role as a pastor at St. Johns Lutheran Church in Cherryville, a town northwest of Charlotte.

Kifer and his family have called Washington home for about four years, and he said this eastern North Carolina town will always hold a special place in their hearts.

“We love this place. We love this church. We love this community,” Kifer said. “We leave here with good feelings and good memories. … We will always consider Washington part of our home and part of ourselves.”

Kifer relocated to Washington from San Francisco, California. He noticed the supportive nature of the town, and said he took a liking to the way churches and organizations looked out for the community early on.

“One of the things I truly love about this area is the way the churches partner together to meet the needs of the community. You don’t find that everywhere,” Kifer said.

Kifer is excited for the move; however, he said leaving behind his church family will not be easy. He got involved with Grace Lutheran shortly after moving to Washington.

Kifer said he’s already shared a few tears and hugs between church members and that is likely to continue throughout the week. He said that even though church members are sad to see him go, they’ve have expressed excitement for his new endeavor.

“This church functions as a family. It’s functioned as a family since we got here. Our daughter was born here, and she’s been a part of it,” Kifer said. “We’re excited for this opportunity, but sad to leave our family.”

Kifer said this calling to move to Cherryville comes with its own anxieties, but he’s trusting in God that it will go smoothly. He said his family will hold this chapter in their lives dear as they prepare for the move.

Kifer said he’ll miss Washington, but, when he thinks about his move to Cherryville, he said he’ll also miss another local staple.

“The seafood … Mmmm,” Kifer laughed.