Michael Klatt, Pastor of Care at Peace Lutheran Church, was caught off guard this July when he got the call to be a pastor at his home congregation at Minnesota, where he was baptized, confirmed and ordained.
After 29 years, Klatt will give his last local service on Sunday as he is returning to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Elmore, Minnesota.
“It’s really an honor to go back there. It doesn’t happen very often where someone gets called to be back to their home church as a pastor,” Klatt said. “I’m really looking forward to that. I’m really going to miss the people here, though.”
In Columbus, Klatt has been involved with introducing more contemporary services in the 1990s and starting a mission trip to Canada, as well as Peace Lutheran's daughter congregation, the 1C Mission Church.
In addition to preaching, his second passion is sports, and he played basketball at the YMCA until he retired from the activity at age 61.
“I had played basketball, in college (and in) seminary so I just kept playing,” Klatt said. “So people would see me more as a person than just the guy that would wear a white robe on Sunday morning in church, for example.”
Klatt was also involved on the YMCA board as ministerial representative and chairman.
Over the past three decades, he became a Huskers fan as well.
“I’m not looking forward to leaving the Huskers behind,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having more Minnesota people to cheer for the same team that I’m cheering for.”
One of his sons, Caleb, was even in the Husker marching band.
“We always teased him he was the camera magnet because every game that they were on TV, we would see him,” Klatt said.
Although there have been successes and special moments, Klatt has faced challenges. Such as serving as the only full-time pastor at a few different times while the church was growing.
“Being the only pastor for a larger congregation is a difficult thing,” said Pastor Cory Burma, a colleague and friend.
Klatt is a very caring man, Burma noted.
“You know he is a man with a great memory. He remembers people’s names. He might not have seen them for 15 years but he can still put that name with a face, (it's) amazing ability to do that,” Burma said. “(He) loves the people here. (He) knows the people not only of the congregation but of the community pretty well.”
Burma said he was surprised when Klatt received the call but not shocked he took it.
“I know that he loves it up there, he loves the people there,” Burma said.
Klatt has made an impact on the community here though, he added.
“I’m sure if you counted up the number of baptisms and funerals and weddings that he did while he was in Columbus that each of those would be well in the hundreds,” Burma said. “So just how he touched so many different lives in that way, I think, is a big thing and a unique thing that a pastor would spend almost 30 years in one place.”
Klatt agreed that he was able to touch many lives.
“I’m really going to miss the people of Peace,” Klatt said. “Over that many years, you got really got used to (touching) a lot of lives in a lot of different important ways, so it’s hard to leave that.”
Peace has been a special place, Klatt said.
“My home congregation … they’re a smaller, rural church, but a lot of committed Christian people that have been wonderful…When I first came to Peace I said to my parents, ‘Peace is like a bigger version of my home church,’” he said. “My parents said the same thing the day after they came to visit here.”
As much as he will miss Columbus, he is still looking forward to the future.
“I’m very excited to go back to my home church and minister to the people there,” Klatt said.
Carolyn Komatsoulis is a reporter for the Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at email@example.com.
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