Pastor considers himself bit of a renaissance man.
From playing guitar to restoring old vehicles, Jeff Thurman has a little bit of expertise in a whole lot of areas.
The former University of Nebraska-Lincoln track athlete is currently training for a half-marathon while he restores a 1990 Plymouth Laser, compiles thoughts for a second book and brings God’s message to the people of the First United Methodist Church.“I guess you could say I’m somewhat of a renaissance man,” the Methodist minister said.
All of Thurman’s talents and interests, though, come back to his calling as a minister.
After graduating from high school in Nebraska City, Thurman studied journalism at UNL while running the 800 on the Husker track team.
Involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, Thurman was convinced that working as a CCC staff member would be his next step after graduating in 1979.
When that didn’t work out, he packed up and moved to Wilmore, KY, to attend Asbury Theological Seminary.
With a theology degree in 1982, Thurman received his first placement in a church in Harrison where he met his wife, Linda.
While raising their family of six children, the Thurmans moved several times in Nebraska.
“Methodist ministers don’t stay put long,” Thurman said.
He has led churches in Silver Creek/Fairview, Harvard, Stromsburg/Polk and McCook.
For the past two years, Thurman led a team which was working to build a new congregation in northeast Lincoln.
When that didn’t come together, he was placed in Gothenburg, beginning work on July 1.
“We love Gothenburg,” he said. “Having lived in Stromsburg, we are familiar with the Swedish community.”
Thurman recently added published author to his list of many accomplishments.
His e-book “Jesus Through the Eyes of Peter,” published by Prairie Muse Publishing in July, provides a narrative that reveals the day-by-day transformation of Simon as he becomes Peter.
Thurman said the book only took a few weeks to write but 10 or 15 years of research.
“It started as a sermon series,” he said, “and it expanded into a book.”
Thurman has another book in the works, this time a Christmas story.
Foremost on the to-do list, though, is to grow the church.
“I think you have to love the people, offer good services and pray,” he said, “not necessarily in that order.”
Prayer is an emphasis, he said, noting that most people pray one minute or less a day.
That’s why Thurman encourages parishioners, especially at the church’s contemporary Sunday service, to use the music of the praise band as a concert of prayer rather than simply listening as a spectator.
Thurman enjoys adding guitar music to his message, saying preaching and playing are the best parts of being a minister.
One of Thurman main hobbies is restoring old vehicles. He recently finished the dark green 1952 Chevy pickup he drives around town daily.
In addition to a multitude of other interests, Thurman enjoys playing tennis and golf in his spare time.