From Fossil to Echo, pastor enjoys rural ministry

Pastor Tim Novak stands Thursday in the sanctuary of the Echo Community Methodist Church. Sarah Britain/The Hermiston Herald

Although the Rev. Tim Novak ministered to people throughout his career as a bank examiner, bank liquidator and owner of an auditing and consulting business, he soon felt called to full-time ministry.

"When God calls, one knows," he said.

Recently Novak received another call that brought him and his wife, Nancy, to the Echo Community United Methodist Church. His first Sunday was July 13.

Novak had been the pastor at the Fossil United Methodist Church for nearly 10 years.

After attending Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., Novak went to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston.

He has ministered in churches in East Douglas, Mass.; Lewiston, Idaho; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Hermiston, Fossil and now Echo.

"Methodists are itinerant ministers - which means they get moved around a lot," Novak said.

After he left the banking industry - a government job, which also didn't allow him to grow moss under his feet - the Novaks returned to Nancy's roots in Hermiston. She is the daughter of retired City Manager Tom Harper.

"It was Albuquerque or here when I left the government job in bank liquidation - family won out," he said.

Additionally, the Novaks have a heart for small towns.

"The district superintendent needed a pastor in Fossil and I indicated that ministry to rural churches and more isolated areas was our call - so Echo kind of follows that line," Novak said.

He said small community churches offer a safe place, a sanctuary and a place to belong.

"That's why I really do believe in the open hearts, open minds and open doors," he said. "We have folks from all sorts of religious backgrounds, but we come together for one purpose an that's to worship God."

Novak said he sees ministry as an opportunity to offer hope in a society that's falling apart.

"The only two things I can offer is hope and direction and pointing people to how God would like us to live and peace with one another - loving our neighbors as ourselves and to love the Lord. It's so simple, but hard to do."

Novak got a lot of practice working in bank liquidation.

"We had to go in and tell employees they no longer had a job and the bank was closing," he said. "There was a lot of counseling and we got to minister to them over time. That was a period when a lot of families were torn apart with a lot of uncertainty economically."

Novak looks forward to balancing meeting the needs of the older population, while at the same time bringing change and technology into the worship experience.

The Echo Community United Methodist Church has Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and morning worship at 10:30. There's also a midweek praise and worship time at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. The church is at 21 N. Bonanza St.

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