Church celebrating pastor’s 25 years of service


Twenty-five years ago, Andrew Currao received a call from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Seymour to be its senior pastor.

He and his wife, Donna, stayed at a hotel near Shoney’s during their visit.

“The people of Seymour were just very gracious and welcoming,” Currao said. “The church was very excited. They had been through a little bit of a tough time at the time because within six months of each other, both of their pastors took a call. … There was a little bit of apprehensiveness with my reception because a lot of people were a little hurt over that because they were two pastors that they loved.”

Once they got to know Currao, they became less reserved and were very welcoming, friendly, kind and excited, he said.

On Oct. 1, the church members are planning a 25th anniversary event to celebrate Currao’s time serving at Redeemer. A dinner open to members and Currao’s family will follow the 10:30 a.m. service, and then an open house for the community will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

There will be a slideshow during the dinner and open house. Attendees are encouraged to write a note or card telling how Currao has encouraged, comforted or used humor to impact a situation in their life.

Currao said he was born in Upstate New York, and when he was 8, his father’s job changed, so the family moved to Beaver, Pennsylvania. He stayed there until graduating from Beaver Area High School and going to Concordia Bronxville in New York.

At the end of high school, Currao said he thought he would do some sort of church work while he went to the Lutheran college. He thought about public relations and then teaching and then youth work.

A few months into college, he met several others going into ministry and chose to switch majors and took preseminary courses. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in theology with a focus on Judao-Christian heritage in May 1987.

In June that year, he married Donna, who he met at church back in Pennsylvania. They moved to St. Louis, Missouri, so he could attend Concordia Seminary.

There, he took two years of classes before doing a yearlong vicarage at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Charter Oak, Iowa.

“Just really observe and see what public parish ministry is all about and experience and observe the different facets of what it means to be a pastor in the church,” Currao said of the purpose of the vicarage, which is similar to an internship.

After moving back to the seminary for a final year of classes, he earned his Master of Divinity in 1991. That April, he had received his first call to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ida Grove, Iowa. He was ordained at his home congregation in Pennsylvania on July 7, and he was installed at St. Paul on July 21.

“We associate the call into the pastoral ministry as a public call by God through the congregation,” Currao said. “It’s that first call that really brings us being called pastor. You taking that first call is accepting the call into the pastoral ministry. It’s a very public call.”

Currao was at St. Paul for seven years until receiving the call to Redeemer.

A year into Currao’s service at Redeemer, the church called an associate pastor out of the seminary.

“Over my 25 years here, we’ve enjoyed calling men from the seminary to be associates here. We’re on our fourth associate since I’ve been here,” he said.

“Most of the functions are the same,” he said. “Obviously, some of the administrative or some of the responsibilities ultimately fall on my desk as senior pastor, but there’s nothing that he’s really kept from doing in terms of the functions of a pastor. He can do it all. He is a full-fledged pastor, but he’s serving here as an associate because there’s a senior who is administratively over him.”

In terms of changes over the years, Currao said a new addition was completed in 2015. It includes Sunday school classrooms, a resource center, a nursery, a choir room and a youth room.

“Quite frankly, that was something the people of God decided and I just kind of stepped back from and let them do it,” he said. “It was a big project.”

While the church membership has grown slowly over the years, Currao said he has been more focused on the people’s spiritual growth.

One way that has been accomplished is Currao doing an annual servant event with the youth for nearly 20 years.

“Preaching and teaching the word of God has been utmost importance to me and for all ages,” he said. “We particularly want to make sure we’re passing on the faith, and that’s a great thing that I’ve tried to instill in people is passing on the faith.”

Currao said Redeemer has always made sure to offer opportunities to be in the word throughout the week.

“At one point, there was something at least once a day offered here that people could attend to be in God’s word and to learn and to grow in God’s word,” he said. “That has been important for me to keep offering those things.”

To this day, Currao remembers something a seminary professor once told him: “Love the word, and love your people.”

“I love God, love the word and love his people, so therefore, the goal has been to bring God’s word to bear in people’s lives,” he said. “I think that’s probably the overall sense of my goal and mission in ministry is to bring the word of God to people.”

Bringing that to bear in people’s lives has been a difficult job, Currao said, because people go through all types of struggles.

“They need the word of God, and where and when and how that word of God is brought to bear on their lives, it’s very difficult,” he said.

“I always feel like I’m behind. You’re never caught up,” he said. “There are always more people that need to hear the word of God, so that’s my job is to bring it to them. That has been my goal for 25 years is to bring the word of God to bear in people’s lives because I love them and I love the word. I want to bring you the word because of my love for you.”

Over the years, Currao has liked how Redeemer has been active helping and serving the community, helping such organizations as Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry, Community Provisions of Jackson County, Clarity, CrossLife Ministries and Jackson County United Way.

“Those have been important endeavors for this congregation,” he said. “It has been nice to work with them on that and to encourage that, just helping where we could within our community. Redeemer has always been there for that for 75 years, before I got here, so that has been good to see and know.”

One thing that Currao said drew him to serve at Redeemer was the opportunities for Lutheran education for his three daughters, Hannah, Emily and Abby. In Seymour, they were able to attend Lutheran school from preschool to 12th grade.

“We’ve really appreciated that opportunity. I appreciate that still,” he said. “That has been something that I think is awesome that this community has to offer people that desire that. I think that’s great.”

He also has liked being in the community with three other Lutheran churches, Zion, Immanuel and Peace.

“It has been wonderful to serve in the kingdom,” Currao said.

For all pastors, he said it should be about pointing to Jesus.

“This is really about Jesus. This is about pointing people to Christ,” he said. “That’s what my ministry, I hope, has been about is not pointing people to me but pointing people to Christ. I hope that I match other Christian pastors in that.”

So what about another 25 years?

“God willing. And not only god willing, Redeemer willing,” Currao said, smiling.

If you go

What: Celebrating Pastor Andrew Currao’s 25 years of service to Redeemer Lutheran Church

When: Oct. 1 (dinner open to church members and Currao’s family members after 10:30 a.m. service; open house for the community from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.)

Where: Redeemer Lutheran Church, 504 N. Walnut St., Seymour

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