“Oh wow, let me get my head around that for a minute!” Those were the first thoughts Ethan Wiekamp had when it was initially suggested that perhaps he consider applying for the lead preaching role at Faith Community Church. “Dr. Fitch delivered me at St. Anthony’s, I attended grade school in the 1912 building (may it rest in pieces), I wore a green vest and white pants as I danced on the shamrock during St. Pat’s...I loved my upbringing in O’Neill, I just never thought I’d be back in O’Neill, bringing up my kids.” Yet here he is, back in the Irish capital, pastoring the church that he grew up in - Faith Community Church.
After graduating from O’Neill High school, Ethan attended Wayne State College where he was active in student life as an undergraduate, serving one term as the student body president, before focusing on ministry with Cru (a non-denominational college ministry) during his graduate studies. During his time in grad school, he married Terah Binder, a Spencer native whose parents still call Spencer home. Ethan’s ministry career saw him move from intern to the state director of Cru in Nebraska, to CEO and president of the Dallas based ministry Grad Resources, and most recently he served as executive pastor at Citylight Lincoln.
“Terah and I both had really great experiences growing up in rural Nebraska, and as we found ourselves raising our family in Dallas, we couldn’t help but feel God tugging at our hearts as we thought about the prospect of getting back to where we’d built so many great relationships in Nebraska.”
At the same time that the Wiekamps felt God nudging them back to Nebraska, Pastor Paul Harder felt God nudging him into a new role at Faith Community Church, where he had been the primary preaching pastor for more than 40 years. “I feel so blessed to have been part of what God is doing at Faith Community but, at the same time, I have sensed in the past couple years that God was closing the door on my time as the primary preaching pastor and opening the door for me to fill the role of member care pastor.”
Starting this summer, Ethan has taken on the role of primary preaching pastor where he’ll preach roughly 3 out of 4 weeks during the month while Paul will be responsible for the additional weeks.
So, of all the places, why O’Neill? Why Faith Community Church? “My parents lived in O’Neill and attended Faith Community Church for 30+ years so I had the privilege of keeping up with several people from the community and congregation over the years. Over those years, we often remarked at how talented Jamie and Amber are(Jamie Lindsay is the youth pastor at FCC, and Amber Lindsay is the children’s ministry director), and what an amazing student and children’s ministry they’ve been able to build over the past 15 years. The opportunity to join the Harder’s and the Lindsay’s in a church with a solid ministry foundation that the Lord has obviously blessed in tremendous ways felt like a direct answer to our prayers. On top of that, as we viewed the community with fresh eyes, we couldn’t help but be struck by the quality of life that O’Neill affords with the outstanding schools, community involvement, activities and the like. It really feels like home to us.”
Faith Community Church is located on 10th street in O’Neill with Sunday morning services at 10:45, and will be having their Fall Kickoff with children and youth events starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8th.