New Presbyterian pastor settles in to job, town

Published 9:20 am Saturday, March 13, 2010

FRANKLIN—The Rev. Kent Leydens, the new pastor of Franklin Presbyterian Church, arrived in town in late January, but he already feels at home.

“The people have just been wonderful – very gracious and very open,” he said.

Leydens grew up in a small town in southeastern Iowa that wasn’t too different from Franklin.

“In some ways it feels very familiar, just the physical town itself,” Leydens said.

After graduating from college, he lived in Kansas for a few years before moving back to Iowa. In 2001, he graduated from seminary, was called by a church in Iowa and was ordained.

Presbyterian churches select their pastors through “a very involved” call process, Leydens said. Churches work with the local governing body to search for and eventually call a pastor.

Although he was serving at a church in Iowa at the time, Leydens said he had accomplished what he had planned to there and was looking for another call when he heard from the Franklin congregation.

“I never felt geographically limited,” he said. “I wanted to be open to wherever the call might come from, and I felt just a very strong relationship with the folks from this church that I spoke with from the beginning.”

Leydens officially became pastor at Franklin Presbyterian on Feb. 1. He has been impressed with the strength in worship, leadership and mission of the congregation.

“I believe this is a very healthy and a very vital congregation, and there are people in this church that have tremendous gifts that they’re willing to give,” he said.

Leydens visited Franklin twice before receiving the call. His first visit was in the aftermath of International Paper Co.’s announcement that it would close the local paper mill, the community’s anchor employer.

“My hometown had gone through a similar experience, so not only could I see how shocked and grieved people were; I certainly understood what they were going through,” he said.

Leydens saw first-hand how the church rallied to respond to the IP announcement, despite concerns and questions about how it would affect the community.

“There is the gospel in action; they wanted to respond,” he said. “It was a beautiful spirit here.”

Leydens lives in Franklin with his wife, Julie, and their adult son Jon.

“The church has been gracious to all of us,” Leydens said.

He said the doors of the church are open to all who want to worship.

“We welcome anyone and everyone to come and to enjoy this community faith as much as I have,” Leydens said. “I just feel very uplifted to be here and be a part of this community and a part of this church, and I’m ready to share that with everyone.”