Two Much Loved Local Pastors Announce Departures

The congregations at both Our Savior Lutheran Church in Flandreau and Flandreau United Methodist learned this past week that their pastors will be leaving in the coming months for new roles.
OSLC’s Pastor Alan Blankenfeld announced a couple of weeks ago his new role as a Rural Ministry Liaison.
“I will visit rural congregations that are currently without a pastor, I will stay in the community for two weeks, meeting with and listening to the church members and walking with the congregations as they look to the future. Every church in the synod is important no matter the size as all are called to go about the work of God in their community, the synod and the world. Together, we will explore how they can continue in that mission,” he told The Enterprise.
Blankenfeld believes that the time he spent farming before entering the ministry helps him better understand what rural churches are facing. He hopes it will be a common thread that allows him to enter into their midst and work with them. His last Sunday at Our Savior’s will be January 9th. Blankenfelf will be based out of the synod office in Sioux Falls, however most of his time, he said, will be traveling throughout the state and getting to know people.
“I love this congregation and the community and it wasn’t an easy decision. I will be in the area, as I will continue to work with Helping Kid Round First, Moody County Cares and I will continue serving as Chaplain for Moody County Emergency Services. You will most likely see Diane and I at some sporting events too.”
Just blocks away, UMC’s Pastor Amber Laffey is planning to step away from ministry and return with her family to her husband’s hometown of Tripp.
“Through a lot of prayer and discussion, I discerned that the expectations of a full-time clergy appointment weren’t realistic for me at this time and season in my life due to the nature of my husband’s career and the needs of our four children,” Laffey said.
She plans to continue to serve at Flandreau UMC until the end of May while she works with her husband, Tyler, to move closer to both of their parents and grandparents.  
“I absolutely love Flandreau and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. This town’s diversity is something so special and beautiful and I hope it is something that continues to be celebrated! There are amazing businesses run by people who love Flandreau and its people that I will for sure miss. We will also miss the amazing people who have cared for me and my family while we have lived here.  And we for sure have the best Hispanic food in the entire state.”
Laffey said that during her time in Flandreau, she learned that the one thing she most dreaded about serving as a pastor – doing funerals – actually became one of her most favorite things to do in ministry; walk alongside families in their grief and then honor their loved ones with a beautiful funeral service. In the short time she has been in Flandreau, she has, had the privilege of officiating 10 funerals.
“I am so thankful for this church that has supported and encouraged me in my first full-time clergy appointment. Our congregation does an amazing job of doing life together and supporting each other through the good and the bad. My prayer and hope is they continue to do that no matter who their pastor is,” she concluded.


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