Pastor Tony De La Rosa began his ministry work at Rejoice! on Sept. 9.
"I'm a re-developer," De La Rosa said of his work at Rejoice!, located at 1330 Third Ave. S.E.
"My role is to come in and help a church struggling in some fashion to be able to call a full-time pastor," De La Rosa said.
The role of church re-developer is relatively new to the Reformed Church in America, the denomination with which Rejoice! is affiliated.
"There are very few of us out there," De La Rosa said, adding that the program is about two years old.
Already De La Rosa is working on a survey to be completed by church members and seeking input on what they want to participate in, where they want to go with their ministries, and how they can get there.
"We'll present that information to the church. It gives an opportunity to hear their voice," De La Rosa said.
He will get input from the various ministry teams of the church as well, gathering information and ideas.
"I'll also be talking with my pastoral peers in the community, and see how we can work together ecumenically," De La Rosa said.
De La Rosa has signed a three-year contract with Rejoice!
During that time, he says he will help the church "find its way to health."
De La Rosa comes to Le Mars after serving as pastor of Conklin Reformed Church in Conklin, Mich., for seven years.
That church was his first call after he finished seminary at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich.
He is retired from the United States Marine Corps after 20 years of service and spent 11 years as a business manager for various organizations.
As his work goes forward, De La Rosa will make connections and help members evaluate what will work best for them.
"The people of Rejoice! have such a strong desire to minister to the community," De La Rosa said.
In the process of putting their efforts into community ministry, the members of Rejoice! have not put enough attention to the foundational needs of the church, De La Rosa said.
He points to The Shepherd's Table, a monthly dinner at the church which started out as The Banquet.
The free meal was started by Rejoice! members nearly two years ago. As it has grown, it has also needed more volunteers.
"Gratefully, 10 churches are now involved to help with the meal, to help the wheel move forward," De La Rosa said.
Due to pastoral staffing the last two years, there was no connection to the area ministerial association.
De La Rosa sees a renewed relationship with other churches in the community will make a difference at Rejoice!
"My role is to help members and others recognize where their gifts, skills and passion are, and equip and serve them," De La Rosa said. "I want to help them live out their missions."
A brochure about the church lists a number of outreach programs which are offered at Rejoice! facilities for members and the community.
There's a Celebrate Recovery group, Alcoholics Anonymous, La Leche League (breast feeding support group), Divorce Care, Cancer Support Group, a food pantry, and a family movie night.
Rejoice! also provides space for the Center for Financial Education, Zestos, a faith-based nonprofit organizations which offers the basic necessities of life to all in the community; and SHARE Iowa, a non-profit organization that specializes in selling food for up to 50 percent off.
Orders for SHARE Iowa food may be placed at the church office or by calling the Zestos office at 712-737-4263.
"Jesus said we need to minister to the widows, the orphans and those with less," De La Rosa said. "This church is a good example of that."
He indicated the church has a wonderful facility to work in.
The worship space can seat up to 350, and seats about 200 for The Shepherd's Table monthly meal.
The church is located in a building that served as a classroom building in the 1990s for Westmar University. The college closed in 1997.
At the end of his three-year contract, De La Rosa hopes that he has helped the church develop so he will be out of a job as a re-developer, and the congregation will be able to call someone to serve as a full-time pastor.
"That's the hardest part," De La Rosa said. "My wife Betty and I know we're here only temporary, here to serve, not lay down roots."
He indicated a number of things are in place for the members each week.
Sunday morning includes several opportunities for children and youth studies, wrapped around the 10 a.m. worship service.
Tuesday morning offers a women's Bible study at 6 a.m. Thursday morning has a men's Bible study at 7 a.m.
"There is a richness here for service," De La Rosa said of Rejoice! "My role is to make sure that is something that is fostered."