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Divine intervention brought Pastor Justin home

It seems divine intervention played a role in bringing Justin VanOrman back to Mobridge to be closer to his aging father and join a parish in need of a leader.
“God’s fingerprints are all over this one,” said Pastor Justin, who is the new pastor of the Mobridge Trinity Lutheran Church.
It seems there has been some heavenly intervention at several junctions in his life, including leading him down the path to the ministry.
He is the son of Robert and the late Joyce VanOrman. Born and raised in Mobridge, he is a 1989 graduate of Mobridge High School.
Pastor Justin did not set out to be a minister. In fact, he went to Northern State College (now Northern State University) to become an elementary school teacher. After graduation he worked at the Bethlehem Pre-School in Aberdeen as the director and head teacher for a year.
It was there that the pastor at the school encouraged him to go into the ministry. Pastor Justin followed that advice and entered the Lutheran Seminary in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1995.
After he graduated in 2000, he decided that he really did not feel the calling of the ministry at that time and took a job working as an admissions counselor at the seminary. In 2001 he took a job as an admissions counselor for the Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. For two and half years he toured the country with a group of colleagues speaking to and evaluating seminary candidates.
Pastor Justin said he enjoyed the job and the many states, countries and cultures he was able to experience during this time. He purchased a home with acreage and settled into a contented life.
But there was something that tugged at him on nearly a daily basis, in his home office in Columbus.
“I kept passing this bulletin board with a poster that said ‘rural church looking for a lay-minister,’’ he recalled. “I finally understood that it was my calling. I called Mr. Ryan and said I think I’m supposed to call you.”
He traveled to Junction City, a village of about 800 people, to lead the worship of the church of up to as many as 60 to 100 people on any given Sunday.
In January of 2003, he was encouraged to become a part-time pastor for the parish and sought approval from the church to become ordained. He was still working full-time with the seminary and traveled to rural Ohio on the weekends.
In June of 2003 another parish looking for a pastor called him with an inquiry.
“’Would you mind coming over to our church to preach and see if we like you,’ is what they asked,” he laughed. “Apparently they did.”
Pastor Justin quit the seminary and became the minister for both parishes.
During his time in Ohio he often came home two or three times a year to visit his parents. When his mother became ill, he spent more time here. When she passed away he knew his father would need help. Pastor Justin moved his father into the Mobridge Care and Rehabilitation Center and began planning to find a new job somewhere close to his dad.
“I had no intention of moving back here, but I put my name in to the bishop to find a job in South Dakota,” he said. “He told me he had a rural community in northern South Dakota that would be a fit for me.”
He sold his home in Ohio and moved to Mobridge in April 2018. He was both thrilled and a bit apprehensive when it was the Mobridge Trinity Lutheran Church where he would land; he knew most of parishioners on a close basis.
“They have all known me since I was a kid. I have some of my parishioners as classmates or teachers,” he said. “It is hard not to call them Mrs. or Mr.”
Pastor Justin said it has taken some getting used to them calling him “pastor” but the people in his church are great individuals and are committed to the mission of the church.
“I am glad to be home and thankful for the opportunity to work with the people of this community,” he said.
He is settling in with his four “Fur babies,” his dog Angel Gracie and three cats, Agnes, Annie and Asher. There is a divine intervention story with each of his pets also, but that’s for another time.
As for cooking, it is in his blood. His parents both worked at the Fireside when he was a kid and he started working at the Dakota Country when he was in the seventh grade until he was a senior.
His favorite meals are lasagna, chicken Alfredo and homemade pizza. He also adds his expertise to making healthy snacks for his pets
– Katie Zerr –


Angel Gracie’s Dog Biscuits
Peanut Butter Pumpkin Treats:
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3 Tbsps. of all-natural peanut butter
1/2 cup oats
3 cups whole wheat flour, brown rice flour (I grind my own flour)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin and peanut butter and then stir into the combined flour, oats, and cinnamon. Pour onto a floured surface and roll dough out to 1/2” thickness. Cut out using a cookie cutter or into treat size squares with a knife.
The dough will be sticky and may require more flour. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown.

Sweet Potato Treats
1 cup of canned sweet potato (you can substitute fresh if you want)
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour, brown rice flour, or oatmeal flour (I grind my own)
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix ingredients together until dough forms. More flour may need to be added. Roll dough into small balls and place on cookie sheet and press down to about 1/4” thickness. Or add enough flour so you can roll it out and use cookie cutters.

Apple Carrot Treats
1 cup of whole-wheat flour, brown rice flour, or oat flour (I grind my own)
1 cup of grated carrots
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix ingredients together until dough forms. More flour may need to be added. Roll dough into small balls and place on a cookie sheet and press down to about 1/4” thickness. Or add enough flour so you can roll it out and use a cookie cutter.

Agnes, Annie & Asher’s Kitty Treats
Feline Favorite Treats:
1 Tbsp. catnip (optional)
1 10 oz can of tuna or salmon (water packed)
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 egg
1 cup of old fashioned oats
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Drain your canned tuna or salmon, reserving about 3 tbsp of the liquid. Dump the old-fashioned oats into a food processor pulse until powdery.
Add all of the other ingredients to the food processor and pulse until the mixture forms a ball of dough. If it is too sticky, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add a bit of water. Using the small end of a melon baller, scoop the dough into a ball and place on a cookie sheet. Use your thumb or bottom of a glass and lightly press the ball flat about 1/8-inch thickness.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the outside. If your cat prefers harder treats, bake them longer.
Cool completely before storing or giving them to cat.

Justin & Mike’s Knock-Off Zuppa Toscano
1-pound Italian sausage (I prefer mild)
2 or 3 large potatoes – washed and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
6 slices of thick cooked bacon, chopped
2 chopped garlic cloves, minced or 1 Tbsp. minced from a jar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes or more to give it a kick
2 cups baby spinach
2-8 oz cans of chicken broth and chicken bouillon for extra flavor
1-quart water
2 tsp. cornstarch or flour with enough water to make a paste
1 cup heavy whipping cream (room temperature)
Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces and cook in soup pan until browned over med-high heat.
Add onion, garlic, pepper, and red pepper flakes to sausage and cook until the onions
are translucent and the aromatics of the seasonings blend together.
Reduce heat to medium and add the sliced potatoes to the pot. Slowly add the chicken stock and water and stir. Add chicken bouillon for extra flavor if the chicken stock is weak.
Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork tender. Add flour or cornstarch paste and simmer for another 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to lowest setting and sprinkle in the chopped spinach and cooked bacon (chopped). Slowly pour cream while stirring.
Check for taste.
Serve with a salad and hard roll or nice rustic, crusty bread. Prep Time: approximately 20 minutes
Total Time: approximately 1 hour. Serves: 4 to 6

Pastor J’s Holy Communion Bread
Unleavened bread that I’ve made for the celebration of the Eucharist.
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup robust molasses
1/2 cup oil (do not use olive oil)
1/2 cup cold water
Mix all ingredients together in the order listed above. Dough will be sticky. Turn out onto floured surface and knead the dough 4 to 6 times. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll into circular shape to 1/4 inch thickness. Place the four loaves on a cookie sheet. Using the backside of a kitchen knife, score a cross on the top of each piece for easy fractioning during the communion service. Bake 10-15 minutes. Do not over bake or bread will become hard. You may also cut the loaves into even bite-sized pieces for easier serving and less crumbling.