New Pastor Bozarth has high hopes for Blackwell's faith

by Charles Gerian

Pastor James Bozarth is a new face at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Blackwell, and he’s wasted no time making himself at home.

Arriving in June for his ornation, Bozarth said the congregation and the community have been nothing but welcoming to him and his family.

“My first big event with the church was the 4th of July celebration, and it seemed like the whole town came out. It was a very wholesome sort of old-fashioned gathering, and they had just over 200 people show up, which was especially awesome considering how hot it was this past Independance Day,” he said.

“The congregation is loving- they’ve been loving ever since I got here. And the community, Blackwell, has been so fantastic. I come from bigger areas- larger congregations- and you might see someone one time and never see them again. Here, I’m on a first-name basis with people. I’ll see them around town at the grocery store and get to stop and talk to them, be a part of their lives, really. It’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced, It’s really awesome.”

“I always make time for people,” said Bozarth, “I firmly believe in loving thy neighbor, and there’s a lot of neighbors here to get to love.”

Trinity Lutheran, located on Vinnedge and 1st Street, is one of Blackwell’s oldest churches.

Bozarth said that the history around it is impressive, as are all the programs the church offers.

“I’m still learning a lot about what the church does through the year, but it’s all about people and connections. The minute I got here I was making connections, I was listening to stories, getting to know people. And that’s what Trinity Lutheran is about.”

Bozarth said that Trinity was currently preparing for Back to School baskets for Blackwell teachers with sweets and notes of encouragement and blessings for the upcoming school year.

Trinity also offers a food bank on Friday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon as well as a quilting group that meets Friday mornings as well.

The church was also named the Blackwell Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Month for August.

“We’re currently preparing for a program starting August 30 called ‘Faith Foundations’, and I’m encouraging everyone to attend, regardless of their beliefs. That’s what the program is about, the foundations of faith. I want to engage with people that maybe have questions or reservations about faith, and I want to talk to them about that. Everyone is welcome.”

Foundations of Faith will meet Wednesdays starting August 30 at the Trinity Lutheran Church at 6:30 p.m.

Bozarth has been married to his wife, Heather, for 13 years, and they have three

children: Avin, Adalyn, and Arwen.

He was baptized in the Lutheran Church and was raised in Love of Christ Lutheran Church in Mesa, Arizona . Following college and marriage, he and his wife settled in Warner Robins, Georgia, and found a cozy church called Mount Calvary.

“We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Warner Robins, made many friends, and were deeply involved with Mount Calvary and her work in the community.”

After Georgia, they left for Arizona.

“We started anew in Arizona to be closer to my side of the family. It was bittersweet, as Heather’s parents currently reside in Blanchard. We spent the next four years building relationships and worshiping at Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church in Gilbert, Arizona.”

“I credit my senior pastor for encouraging me to make the transition to Concordia Seminary

located in St. Louis where I trained for the last four years,” he said.

“Before entering the Seminary, I was employed as an engineer in the aerospace and automotive industries for 11 years with a focus on structural analysis. I worked on many Air Force and Navy aircraft and even found myself on a few helicopter flight tests. In my last position, I served as the Head of Continuous Improvement for a company whose focus was researching and developing 3D-printed electric autonomous shuttles using the world’s largest 3D printers.”

Working in Wichita on aircrafts, Bozarth said it got him acclimated to the area.

“Now we’re close to my wife’s side of the family in Blanchard, and that’s awesome,” he explained.

The key to being a pastor in Blackwell, Bozarth said, was treating Blackwell as a collection of individuals with a focus on the “individual”.

“This is a town, a people, with their own history and stories, with their own struggles and their needs, their own interpretations of faith. It’s important to account for the individual in a congregation as much as it is to account for the congregation as a whole.”