Central Presbyterian Church in Nevada officially welcomed Pastor Caleb Suydam to the community February 15.
"The people here are just fantastic," said Suydam. "They’re dedicated, welcoming and just a joy to be around. Walking through downtown I feel there’s life here. It seems like [Nevada] is always trying to move forward."
Despite the feeling that he was called to ministry since age 11 in Farmington, Ill. and remembering that his ears perked up every time a pastor spoke of vocation in the church, Suydam, 27, first struck out on a different career path. He earned a political science degree from Northern Illinois University and was given a glimpse into his potential future during his junior year.
"I vividly remember sitting in a meeting for a student political organization and seeing how busy and stressed out some of my friends who worked for legislators were," said Suydam. "I thought, ‘If I’m going to work 60 hours a week, it should be something I enjoy.’"
After graduation, Suydam finally relented to the callings he felt and attended the University of Dubuque’s Theological Seminary, where he received a Master’s of Divinity in May 2013.
In addition to following the path he feels God chose for him, Suydam crossed paths with a fellow theological student named Jenny while visiting the Dubuque campus in the spring of 2009. She had also recently changed educational paths, switching from music education at the University of Northern Iowa to pursue her own calling. The two were seated at the same table when prospective students were given a chance to gain feedback from current students. They kept in touch over the summer and found that they would be spending more time together as the result of a required Greek course in August. The couple married in August 2013.
"We were the only ones there under 30 and without kids, so we hung out a lot. As they say, one thing led to another," said Suydam with a smile.
Though he is less than a month into his first pastorate, Suydam has already found that there is much more to his post than preaching a message at the Sunday worship service - including some aspects that didn’t occur to him, such as overseeing maintenance of older structures - like the one at 523 Fifth Street. Also, this past summer he followed in his wife’s footsteps and interned at Unity Point St. Luke’s in Sioux City, where he learned a great deal about pastoral care for those in the hospital.
"It can be a step out of your comfort zone," said Suydam of some of his experiences. "But it’s amazing when people share their lives, their fears and their hopes with you. It’s a privilege."
Suydam will lead a congregation of about 100 members and is looking forward to becoming part of the vibrancy he feels in the community of Nevada and central Iowa. He feels God has something wonderful in store for the people in his new home community and that is part of the reason he was called to serve here. His goals for the church include helping people grow in their faith as well as for he and his congregation to be a positive presence in service of the community – anything from visiting those in the hospital to pitching in at volunteer events.
Suydam believes that a big part of helping people grow in their faith is to help them achieve a better understanding of the Bible. Central Presbyterian Church will hold Bible studies on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.
Suydam relocated to Nevada from Greene, where his wife Jenny currently holds a pastorate. The couple will live separately until June when she will join her husband in Nevada. Both recently graduated from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (Jenny in December 2012 and Caleb in May of 2013).
In his free time, Suydam said he enjoys outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, especially waterfowl hunting, as well as attending and performing in live theatre productions.
Sunday worship services are held at 10:30 a.m. with Sunday school for all ages at 9 a.m.