By Pamela Nielsen
“You’re here today because our church has said, ‘We’re not giving up on rural America,’ ” proclaimed LCMS Missouri District President Rev. Ray Mirly, who preached the installation sermon for the Rev. Todd Kollbaum, new director of Rural and Small Town Mission (RSTM) for the LCMS Office of National Mission. “The people of rural and small-town America need to hear this Good News message: Christ is arisen!”
Slightly over half of the 6,600 LCMS congregations are in rural or small-town settings, making Rural and Small Town ministry a priority for the Office of National Mission. In his sermon, Mirly explained that the task for Kollbaum is to “equip districts and leaders within districts” with what they need to reach out to the people in rural America.
“How unique and important this ministry is, how many people in rural America don’t know Christ,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison following the installation, as he reflected on his own experience as a pastor in rural Iowa.
Kollbaum will oversee the development of resources, leadership training and ministerial-support programs to equip congregations in rural and small towns for local and regional outreach and engagement.
“The work of RSTM is critical in the strengthening of congregations in the LCMS,” commented the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the Office of National Mission. “Todd brings so many wonderful skills to the task. His own experience and eager desire to see our rural and small-town congregations thrive make him excellent for the position. The LCMS is recommitting itself to work in rural and small-town parishes, believing they have wonderful work to do in their communities. There are challenges, but the Lord is faithful and will bless His church.”
Before accepting the call to RSTM, Kollbaum served as senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, a rural parish in Cole Camp, Mo., with a population of just over 1,000. He has served the LCMS Missouri District as chair of the district’s Rural Small Town Ministry Task Force since 2011.
A 2004 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Kollbaum also holds a degree in business administration and marketing. Prior to attending the seminary, he held leadership positions in the health care industry, serving as a nursing home administrator in Iowa and South Dakota, and then as an administrative consultant for two hospitals and nursing homes in Wisconsin.
Kolbaum and his wife, Angela, have five children — four are past, current or future students at Concordia University Nebraska in Seward, Neb.
Deaconess Pamela Nielsen is associate executive director of LCMS Communications.