Lundula leaves UMCL, but stays in Le Mars
LE MARS — The Rev. Dr. Michel O. Lundula has served as pastor at United Methodist Church of Le Mars since July 2016.
On Sunday, June 19, he gave his last sermon as pastor of the church.
Lundula has been appointed district superintendent of the Camp Clear Lake District by Iowa Conference Bishop Laurie Haller.
“That district includes the northwest portion of Iowa and used to be the Northwest District. They changed it a few months ago to Camp Clear Lake,” Lundula explained.
The district covers an area from Mason City down Interstate 35 to just south of Highway 20, west and north to the Iowa border and includes 157 congregations.
“My new position involves the supervision of churches and clergy and offers support to the congregations and church leaders to fulfill the mission of the church,” he said. “I am representing the Bishop in northwest Iowa.”
Able to Still Call Le Mars Home
While the new position covers a large territory, Lundula and his family will continue to live in Le Mars.
Previously the district had an office in Storm Lake, but that was closed a few years ago, enabling the district superintendent to have a choice in where they live.
Lundula had previously served the community of Nashua United Methodist Church in Nashua and Republic Community Church in Ionia from 2008-2014, and came to Le Mars from Dubuque where he served St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, from 2014-2016.
Lundula is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the central region of Africa. His wife, Berth, also grew up there.
He started serving in the church before he came to America, but was not yet ordained until his move to Iowa in 2008.
The couple has four children, John, 15, Nanzy, 13, Benjamin, 11, and Lucie, 8.
While serving UMCL, Lundula became an American citizen in September 2019.
A Supportive Congregation
Lundula reflected on his work in serving congregations as a pastor.
“I enjoyed my time in local congregations. Talking about this congregation, as well as many others places I served, I can say that this church has been my family. UMCL has been my family. So I enjoyed the support from the congregation and also the willingness to partner with me to fulfill the mission of the church,” he said. “I didn’t do everything the Lord put in my mind or in the congregation by myself, but we made it to do the work together.”
He described the people of UMCL as being loving and supportive.
“Even when I lost my father, even though it was a thousand miles away from here, I didn’t feel alone because the people of United Methodist Church of Le Mars were by my side. Even though it was the time of COVID, this congregation was and will always be my family and I will never forget them from those moments of grief in my life, and the support to do the work of God,” he said.
Looking Forward to the Challenges
Lundula said he recognizes his position as district superintendent will be very demanding and he will be away from family most Sundays.
“With 157 churches, I have to be somewhere. I don’t just have to be there when there’s a problem. I would like to worship with those brothers and sisters in different areas to offer my support to them, to celebrate with them, to cry with them, to encourage them. But sometimes it is difficult to be everywhere, so looking at the number of churches, I would like to be at different places to do the work of the Lord,” he said.
His family, however, will continue to make UMCL their church home.
“In the Methodist Church, as pastors we don’t belong to the local church, I am a member of the conference. So my membership is not with this church, but my children will continue to be here, to enjoy, to grow, to learn, with their friends and the leaders here. As for myself I can come here as the father when my children have programs, to participate, but not as a pastor,” he continued.
Lundula has made it clear to the UMCL members that his relationship with them will change as he will not be their pastor.
“But I will be a friend. You cannot disconnect that. I will be the friend of everybody and remember all those great moments we have spent together,” he said.
He added he and UMCL celebrated the lives of a number of people who were not part of the UMCL family, such as weddings.
A Simple Decision
Lundula said the family made the decision to stay in Le Mars for several reasons.
“The bishop gave us permission to choose where we would be and we chose Le Mars because of not only that we are in Le Mars, but we see our children doing a good job. We like the school here. It has great teachers and so we are more involved in the school. The choice was easy to make,” he said.
Lundula also shared the family’s appreciation to the community through the years.
“My famiy and I have been blessed not only with the church, but with the community. We want to thank the community for welcoming us and supporting us in the past six years here. We really felt welcomed and embraced in the community and we feel at home in Le Mars,” he said. “We want to say thank you to those who knew us and supported us in one way or another. We say thank you not only to the local church but also to the community. We will continue to be a part of the community, to serve one another in Le Mars,” he said.
A new pastor for UMLC has yet to be appointed.