Imagery of church-related people and places.

Rev. Aaron Decker

Ministry setting

Graduate Student at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ

What brings you joy in your ministry?

A lot of my ministry has taken place with children, young and old. It's wonderful to watch children grow and develop through new ages and stages in their lives. This is especially true in a religious context. The children I have worked with constantly amaze me with their insights into faith and their natural connection to God, something many of us struggle to find as adults. The Church's practice has often been to marginalize the youngest among us, entrusting children and youth ministry to well-intentioned but untrained leaders. When instead we treat children as the true members of the Body of Christ that they are, amazing things happen--to the whole faith community! While my primary area of study in graduate school is Old Testament, my experience urges me to do some study in education and ways of incorporating the youngest children into the life of the whole Church.

Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?

This will probably sound like a cliche answer, but the truth is, I'm inspired by the laypeople in the congregations I serve. I get paid to be involved up to my elbows in the life of the church, and while there are many benefits I enjoy because of that, I probably wouldn't quite be doing what I do without that paycheck. There are wonderful, deeply faithful, hard-working people in our churches that are involved up to their ears, and the only reward they receive is the knowledge of a job well-done for something they care deeply about. They inspire me.

What are your interests outside of ministry?

I'm an avid, though slow, reader, always buried in several books. I knit, play many different instruments, and sing and paint, to get my creativity flowing. My first degree was in computers, and I still like to dabble with a little programming now and then. I love languages and communication, and speak bits and pieces of more than ten different tongues (though none fluently). And I love good food!

Best meal you've ever eaten?

So, with apologies to its residents, I have to say that I really loathe New York City. Too many people in too small a place. Strange, then, that the best meal I've ever had took place there. It was at a little hole-in-the-wall establishment in Chinatown, somewhere I'll never be able to find again, which means it exists in my memory in a category rather like Brigadoon. The meal was Beef Rendang, which evidently is thin slices of meat stewed in spiced coconut milk, until all the liquid evaporates. It was wonderful, rich and sensuous, something I'll never capture again. I kind of like that, letting it exist as a memory rather than a repeatable event. It gives it deeper meaning, somehow.

Brief bio

Aaron grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, and completed his bachelor's degree at Albright College in Reading. He a ended the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago for seminary, and interned at First Lutheran Church in Omaha, NE. He has served as Associate Pastor for Immanuel Lutheran Church in Holden, MA; Director for Public Policy Advocacy for the New England Synod; and Solo Pastor for Christ Lutheran Church in West Boylston, MA.

Did you always want to be clergy?

It's funny, but ever since I can remember, I felt called to public ministry. As a child, I used to joke that I should be a pastor, because my name was the same as Moses's brother, the first pastor ever. That call matured as I grew older. Feeling called, though, is different from wanting to be clergy. I very firmly did not. I searched everywhere for something else to do with my life. But over and over, I kept finding myself drawn back to ministry, over and over again finding other pathways cut off, while obstacles to ordination were removed. I suppose God gets what (S)he wants! Good choice, too, because I'm very happy with where I've ended up.

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