TUPELO – The move from traditional Lutheran country to the Bible Belt will be a big change for the Rev. David Mac Kain, but he’s traveled enough to appreciate good old Southern hospitality.
“I lived in nine states and probably 30 cities, but I’m settling in nicely here,” said Mac Kain, 47, who was installed July 11 as the new pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Tupelo, a member of the conservative Lutheran body called the Missouri Synod.
The father of four comes to Tupelo after serving 12 years as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Victor, Iowa, and two years at a church in South Dakota.
He graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Ind., and was ordained in 1995.
Mac Kain’s father was also a Lutheran minister, so his family traveled a lot when he was a boy, but he considers Cleveland his hometown.
As Holy Trinity’s sixth pastor, Mac Kain replaces the Rev. R.L. Kreitenstein who, before his spring retirement, served the parish for 22 years, the longest tenure of any minister in the church’s 52-year history.
Regional jurisdictional bodies in the LCMS are called circuits, and there were so many Lutherans in Iowa that the circuit in which Mac Kain last served covered just one county. In Mississippi there are far fewer Lutherans in a circuit. Here the circuit spans most of the state and even some of the Florida panhandle, with 22 churches in all.
The closest LCMS church to Holy Trinity is Our Savior Lutheran Church in Columbus.
The LCMS, with headquarters in St. Louis, today has about 2.5 million members nationwide. It is the second largest of the churches that carry the Lutheran name, exceeded in number only by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with about 5 million members.
In contrast to the ELCA, the Missouri Synod maintains an exclusively male clergy and a traditional approach to liturgy. At the denomination’s convention in Houston, Texas, this week, LCMS delegates voted out three-term incumbent president, the Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, who had come under fire from traditionalists for what they saw as his increasingly postmodern approach to church, one they felt diluted the teachings of the tradition’s founder, Martin Luther.
A conservative ethos has always pervaded Holy Trinity, a community of 130 in which Mac Kain estimates the average age to be around 50. He’s committed to honoring that conservative tradition.
“I want to continue the good work pastor Kreitenstein has done here,” said Mac Kain.
As for the future, Mac Kain said numerical growth within the parish would be nice, but it isn’t a top priority.
“The important thing is to maintain our confessional Lutheran identity, which is our distinguishing mark,” said Mac Kain. “I consider spiritual growth more important than numerical growth.”
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal