Before Pastor Delbert Beard left Eads for Oklahoma, he said he felt completely comfortable with the man who was taking his place. “He’s going to do just fine,” Pastor Beard said. It appears he was exactly right.
Pastor (“people can just call me Mark”) Imel came to Eads on the 20th of June, and already he seems to be fitting right in. “I’m very excited about getting to know the people,” he says with a youthful kind of energy. “I’m just happy to be here, serving the Lord.” He also is extremely grateful for getting to know Delbert Beard. “I have the highest respect for him,” he says. “He’s a very good man to follow.”
Pastor Imel has been in the ministry since 1980, earning his Bachelor of Science from Nebraska Christian College in 1981. Then, 18 years later, he went on to earn his Masters of Arts in Practical Ministries from Cincinnati Christian University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He and his wife, Deb, have been married for 35 years and have three grown children together. Their eldest, Molly, is married with two children and lives in Gillette, Wyoming. Emily, their middle child, is 30 and lives in Nebraska, and John, 26, lives in Manhattan, Kansas.
Given his background, it’s no surprise that Pastor Imel feels right at home in this environment. Raised on a farm in southwest Iowa, his entire career as a minister has been in churches located in rural communities, including churches in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and even Julesberg, Colorado back in the 1990s. He says he’s always liked small towns and not just because of his background. “I think rural people are just…good people. They’re very friendly and welcoming.” He adds, after a moment, “I think I would feel totally lost in a big city.” When asked if he thinks ministering in an urban church would be much different than a rural church, he says, “I don’t know if it would really be that different. I mean, you’re only going to know so many people in your life. There are only going to be so many people who you know really well. That’s true, no matter where you live.”
Prior to coming here, Pastor Imel was in Belleville, Kansas for fourteen years. “I was very happy there and the people were wonderful, but we were looking for a change.” Then, one day, he heard about Eads through a website in Missouri. “So, I called and left a message and got a call back right away. I guess I must have seemed okay because we worked things out pretty quickly.” When asked if it was difficult to leave a church after serving as pastor for so long, he answers, “We still have friends there. We stay in touch. In fact, some people came here just a few weeks ago. It’s like I tell them, ‘Good-bye is not forever,’ and in the Lord, I will know them forever.”
And how does it feel to be in Eads? “It feels good,” he answers. “Deb likes it, too. She’s hoping to substitute with the schools. We’re both feeling very excited about being here,” he says, adding, “I feel God wanted me here.”
It seems other people feel the same way, as well. As Dawn James puts it, “I think he’s going to make a real contribution.”