Having grown up in Fort Dodge, a good chunk of which was in our First Presbyterian Church, it made perfect sense after four and a half years in college to return to both the community and church which have given so much to me throughout the years. As many people know, Fort Dodge and Webster County have seen tremendous improvements over the last several years and my position within the community today allows for a unique perspective on past, present and future initiatives to build upon the success of the region while solidifying the irrefutable need for communities to remain tied to church.
I have experienced a common theme as it applies to my involvement in the church. The church and its people have always embraced me and built me up inside and outside of the church walls to the point where I knew it would be very difficult to find any other church/community to really feel like “Home.” Overall that feeling is a very good thing, however it did stymie my personal ability to feel comfortable regularly attending other churches during my four and a half years away from town. I knew if I returned to FPC in Fort Dodge, I would regularly see my former school teachers, local business owners, dynamic community leaders, Laura Stover, and of course many other friends and family, all of whom signify an important avenue in the network that has not only shaped me to this day but continue to pave the way for success moving forward.
As a young professional with this kind of community support, I have found successful professional opportunities that some of my fellow graduates are being told they may not be qualified to reach for 10-15 years in bigger cities away from home. Since moving back, I have become involved in many different boards and committees throughout the region to better understand others’ initiatives and motivations.
Through all of these activities, I am able to actively use my positions to empower other individuals, many times other young professionals, to strive in their respective disciplines and communities while working hand-in-hand with established, experienced leaders to ensure the next generation of leaders are as equipped for success as possible. I constantly seek other volunteer opportunities to help drive the missions and initiatives of organizations which align with my personal and professional goals and values. Three of those organizations are the FPC Session, Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance and Fort Dodge Young Professionals. So how do a church, economic development group and young professionals network, among others, create a unique perspective?
Many times, the regional success seen in recent years is credited to the constant, effective collaboration between the private industries, city, county, and schools’ leadership as well as all their respective departments. Through my work and volunteer experiences, I have heard this account many times and personally agree 100%. But isn’t there something missing?... How about the irrefutable need for communities to remain tied to the church? Businesses here are having a hard time recruiting people to relocate or move back to Fort Dodge/Webster County. Churches everywhere are having a hard time appealing to young people and young families on a regular basis. We all are having similar struggles and there is an opportunity for our church and others to take a seat at the table with the industries, city, county and schools so the collaboration can reach a new level of effectiveness where economic development can bring new and formerly local families to town and those families will know this is the kind of place with exceptional opportunities, relationships and values; the three things that brought me back.
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” - Jeremiah 29:7