Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2005

From journalist to pastor

August 11, 2005

The Rev. Jim Hopwood's career path may sound strange to some: he spent 25 years as a journalist before hearing the call to serve God as a Methodist minister. But Hopwood, pastor of Lansing United Methodist Church, 107 E. Kay St., said he knew of four colleagues who took the same unlikely route.

"There's an old saying," Hopwood said with a smile. "Journalism will either drive you to drink or to God."

Hopwood said that's the nature of journalism, which he described as "a frustrating business. It takes idealists and turns them into cynics."

Hopwood worked as a copy editor for 15 years at the Kansas City Star, before, as he put it, "I felt the call of God to do something different. To my surprise, it involved becoming a pastor."

For years, Hopwood said, he'd felt "called to do something, but didn't know what to do with it. It didn't really crystallize until 1993."

So at age 35 Hopwood enrolled at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo., to earn his master's in divinity. He continued working part time at the Star while he attended the seminary.

Is there anything he misses about his old job?

"The pay is better," Hopwood said with a laugh. "But I don't miss the work."

Hopwood gets plenty of opportunity to write these days, he said, with sermons and other projects.

Although he's been a pastor here for eight years, Hopwood and his wife, Linda, only moved to Lansing a few weeks ago. He said he had stayed in Roeland Park initially so that his daughters could continue and graduate at the same high school, and then his staying there had become "a kind of inertia."

Name:

Jim Hopwood

Address:

614 Meadowlark Drive

Occupation:

Pastor, Lansing United Methodist Church

Graduate of:

University of Illinois, bachelor's in communications; Saint Paul School of Theology, master's in divinity

Family:

Wife, Linda; two daughters, Jennifer at the University of Kansas, Erica at Kansas State University

How long have you lived in Lansing?

I've been pastor of the church for eight years but actually lived within the city limits for only a few weeks.

What do you like most about Lansing?

It's a cliche but true nevertheless: the people are very friendly and supportive.

What do you do to relax?

Read, go to the movies.

What would surprise people about you?

I'm a second-career pastor. My first career was journalism. For 25 years I worked for newspapers in Illinois and Michigan and then the Kansas City Star.

What's the best advice you ever received?

Don't take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself.

To what organization or clubs to you belong?

Leavenworth Clergy Association (treasurer); advisory board of Friendly Visitors program of Catholic Charities, which helps elderly persons to live on their own; committees of Kansas City District and Kansas East Conference of United Methodist Church.

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