GREENFIELD — The Blue family spent some of Labor Day weekend riding horses and four-wheelers with new friends.
They’re a long way from their previous home in Baltimore, but the Rev. Dr. Richard Blue Jr. is not surprised they’ve found connection quickly in Hancock County. As he and his wife explored pastoral opportunities, they interviewed with people of St. James Lutheran Church in Greenfield and could feel the warmth and see the potential.
“We felt like this was home,” he said. “We’ve really been loved by the community here.”
From growing up in Louisiana to today, Blue’s journey has spanned various types of churches, from baptism in a Presbyterian church, to education in various churches’ institutions: New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Lincoln Christian University, United Theological Seminary and The Institute of Lutheran Theology.
He was eventually drawn to the deep-rooted history of the Lutheran church, of “being able to share that historic faith that’s orthodox, that’s traditional.” Yet he continues to value working together ecumenically, from the theological conversations he and another pastor co-host for online viewers, to his recent attendance at local ministerial association meetings in Greenfield. He is an adjunct professor at United Theological Seminary in its contextual ministry program for new pastors entering into ministry.
Blue said St. James will be relaunching ministries for families, children and youth, “that kids get a healthy foundation of what we believe as Christians … sharing a faith that is rooted in the historic church.” He also hopes the congregation can help families dealing with recovery and addiction, particularly young people who’ve seen a cycle in their families and are trying to figure out how to stop it in their own lives.
He works to engage people online, too, offering virtual “Coffee with the Pastor” on Thursday mornings at askpastorblue.com, where he hopes to also launch a daily devotional and other resources. “I really believe in the use of technology for reaching people with the Gospel,” he said.
“I love people. I love meeting people where they are.” In an era when many are not going to church, “I’m trying to think outside of the box. How do we meet people where they are? We’re going to go to them.”
His wife, Amanda Blue, is also a minister. She works for Lifeline Youth and Family Services. She will be ordained in a service at 6 p.m. Friday at St. James. Amid interest at St. James in a healing service, such as one interim pastor Doug Gast led before the Blues came, Richard Blue said she will lead those.
He said the journey forward at the church will be a prayerful one.
“I’m a big proponent of hearing what the Holy Spirit has to say and where he’s leading us,” Richard Blue said, and “discerning whether our members are saying, ‘This is what the Spirit’s telling me.’”
Blue is not the only new pastor who’s arrived in Hancock County in recent months.
The Rev. Steven McPeek is an ordained elder in the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He came to Bradley United Methodist Church in Greenfield in July after three years at Trinity Church in Kendallville. He succeeds the Rev. Cyndi Alte, who retired.
McPeek is from Muncie and graduated from Ball State University. He worked in the printing business before entering the ministry in 1998. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary in 2003.
McPeek and his wife, Annette, married in 1988 and have two adult children. Son Brock and his wife, Leslie, are the parents of Brylie and Alexa. Daughter Danielle and her husband, Zac Schwartz, have a daughter, Jadyn.
According to a press release from the church, in 2019, McPeek received the Steven L. Bailey Award from the Youth Service Bureau of Huntington for his dedication to making a difference in the lives of youth and families. The release also said he is certified in Mental Health First Aid, Spiritual Direction and leading guided spiritual retreats.
He enjoys photography, getting outdoors, fishing, hunting, golfing, walking and spending time with family.
New leader at Gateway
Also, the United Methodist Church appointed the Rev. Kevin Smigielski as pastor of Gateway Community Church in Fortville. He succeeds the Rev. Matt Lipan, who now leads a non-profit in the Flagstaff, Arizona, area.
Smigielski is originally from South Bend. He’s a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and Duke Divinity School. He previously served 14 years in churches in Indiana and North Carolina.
He and his wife, Amy, have three children.
Smigielski is also head coach of the tennis team at Hamilton Southeastern Junior High School.