Andrew Finch – Putting his imprint on the community

New UMC minister is passionate about community

Community outreach is one of Andrew Finch’s passions.

The new pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Hiawatha says he wants to bring the message of Jesus back to the roots of the community.

Pastor Finch was born and raised in Omaha, Neb., where he graduated from the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a Bachelor’s degree in religious studies. He is currently finishing a Master’s degree in theology from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colo.

A minister since 2009, Pastor Finch was ordained into the Baptist ministry and served three churches in the Omaha area. Seven years ago, he was approached to pastor a Methodist Church, where he stayed for four years in the Omaha area, and then was transferred to the First United Methodist Church in Lebo, Kan.

He remained there until July 1, he was transferred to Hiawatha to fill the position assigned to him as Pastor Jacob Cloud was reassigned after a couple years serving UMC in Hiawatha.

And Pastor Finch has felt right at home since arriving. He got involved with a bang with Vacation Bible School hitting his second week.

“We had around 60 kids,” he said. “It was a good beginning.”

Pastor Finch said he is very active in the terms of building relationships so people can create space to find God.

“The last month I have really been getting to know everyone here and finding out their stories and how I can help join in their journeys,” he said.

Since coming to Hiawatha’s First United Methodist Church, Pastor Finch said he has been working on more community outreach. They recently had a Labor For Your Neighbor Day, where congregation members went out into the community and worked for people — whether organizing their garages or mowing their grass and clipping bushes. He said it was a great way to expand those community relationships and share the love of Jesus with the community.

“We spent the day loving and putting our imprint on the community,” he said. “I believe in traditional church as being a beacon of light for people.”

He said the event involved 75 to 80 people from the congregation, including children. The goal is to have these events quarterly.

The church’s youth group is working toward a spring break trip to Houston for Hurricane Relief for 2019 and has some events planned. One such event is a drive-in movie night on Sunday, Sept. 16, where they will show “The Greatest Showman” at 7:15 p.m. and “Rampage” at 9:10 p.m. The youth will serve concessions as a fundraiser for the mission trip.

Pastor Finch said everyone is welcome to their drive-in movie — which will be held in the parking lot on a big outside screen for a full “drive-in movie” effect. One more way to reach the community, he said.

“You have to think outside the box to bring people to Jesus anymore,” he said. “Traditional ways don’t always work.”

The UMC uses this philosophy in their service approach — offering a traditional Sunday morning service at 8:30 a.m. with a blended service at 10:45 a.m. The message is the same, but the delivery and music might be a little different. The church has a praise team, bell choir and a choir to share music during services.

Wednesday night’s is for youth at the church — with Chris Diller heading up youth group with fifth and sixth graders at 5:30 p.m., seventh and eighth graders at 6:15 p.m. and high school from 7:45 to 8:30 p.m.

Pastor Finch said the church also sponsors the Community Latchkey for kindergartners through fourth graders from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. for the past 26 years. They also sponsor Happy Days Preschool for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds.

Pastor Finch said he enjoys living in Hiawatha with his wife, Meagan, and their children preschooler Alanna, kindergartner Destiny and high schooler John, who is a kicker for the football team and a soccer fanatic. Pastor Finch said they have been busy getting acclimated with the community and being involved.

“I love outreach and mission work and helping the community,” he said. “Let’s get back to our roots — the community. You are part of our family and that means we help out.”