From student to teacher

Charles Owens

JIM CROSS/Mitchell County Press News

OSAGE | For anyone, starting a new job can be a bit stressful.

However, starting a new job as a full-time minister just nine days before Christmas could be considered even more stressful.

Such was the case for Pastor Charles Owens, the new minister at the Osage United Church of Christ.

Not only was it nine days before Christmas, it was also just two days before his birthday.

Owens, a 2013 graduate of United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, Minn., originally intended to be an art history major with the goal to become a museum curator. He is a graduate of Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School in New Ulm, Minn.

It was during his undergraduate studies at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., that his career direction changed.

In 2009, while at Gustavus Aldolphus, Owens planned to study art history in Italy, but things didn’t work out and he decided to travel to Thailand instead.

“I wanted to go someplace warm to study,” he said. “So, I filled out the paperwork to teach in a Thai juvenile prison.”

Owens said his classroom was a 25 foot-by-75 foot steel cage in the middle of the prison compound.

“I lived with a host family that didn’t understand English too well,” he said. “Communication was hard.

“I was 21 years old and thinking about life.”

During that time, Owens said he began to ask himself, “What are my gifts?”

“I decided everything wasn’t about me,” he said. “I felt the hand of God pushing me towards ministry.”

Since graduating from seminary, this past spring, Owens spent a month backpacking across Vietnam.

“I’ve been to Asia two times,” he said, “once every two years. I enjoy my trips to the continent.”

Owens then spent time as a fill-in minister at a church in Alexandria, Minn., while the minister was on sabbatical.

It was on Dec. 8, everything changed for Owens.

“I preached a ‘call sermon’ that Sunday,” he said. “Immediately following the service, the congregation took a vote. The next thing I knew someone walked up to me and said ‘you have the position.’ ”

Owens said the past few weeks have been very busy, especially starting his new position during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

“Looking at the Christmas Story, Mary and Joseph were homeless, their baby was born among animals,” he said. “It was a poorly planned and haphazard time in their lives.

“That is kind of how my life has been.”

Owens’ Christmas sermon was titled, “Christmas in the Spirit of the Original.”

Finding himself in a church that has a lot of history, Owens said he plans to spend the first year just “listening and learning from the people of the church.

“This church has been here a long time, there’s a lot of history to learn.”

Owens is living in Mason City to be close to his grandparents.

His longtime girlfriend, Kate, recently graduated from college with a degree in illustration.

He said she hopes to someday be a freelance illustrator.

“I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing without her,” he said.

“It’s strange, this is the first time in 20 years that I‘m not in school,” he said. “Instead, I’m starting a new career.”


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