New Methodist pastor takes long road to town
The new pastor at Gothenburg’s First United Methodist Church comes from a long line of the ordained but he spent most of his formative years ignoring the call to serve.
“I ran from the call,” Joel Plisek said. “I did not want to be a pastor. I begged the Lord to give me anything but this.”
His maternal grandfather and dad both minister but he found himself at Wayne State College for something else. He started degrees in criminal justice and early education. Neither of those paths, however, led him to happiness.
Plisek took classes and worked at Subway. He considered leaving school and taking a factory job before a retreat changed his direction.
Although there was no singular moment at the retreat when it clicked for him, Plisek discovered he was ready to answer God’s call.
He completed a third major, sociology, and went on to earn his masters of divinity at the North American Baptist Seminary, in Sioux Falls, SD.
It was a path with many turns and changes of direction, but if there was one person who had a better idea than anyone else where the journey would end, it was Plisek’s father.
“He said ‘It’s about time you finally agreed to it,’ ” said Plisek, recalling the conversation with his dad. “He knew. He never pressured me; he never was forthcoming with what he believed God was calling me to do.”
Gothenburg is Plisek’s fourth stop in the state since becoming a pastor. Chambers, Louisville and Ansley/Litchfield/Loup City make up the rest.
He’s been a resident of Gothenburg for three weeks, but that’s been enough time for the community to leave a strong impression.
“Oh, I love it,” Plisek said. “It’s a great town. It’s just very friendly. They have a lot of stuff going on in this community which is really exciting.”
The new pastor is eager to become better acquainted with the community he will serve. He especially enjoys working with the elderly and children.
“I love working with kids in youth group, camp, vacation bible school,” Plisek said. “I will go to crazy lengths, like with the dunk tank, to bring them Christ.”
The mention of the dunk tank dates back to his last location, but he’s still a walking reminder of the events. He was seated inside the tank during vacation bible school when it tipped over. He broke his ankle and is still using a protective boot.
While he hopes to avoid injury working with youths in Gothenburg, he is planning some adventures.
The plans include taking a service trip to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and attending a conference in Orlando, FL, in 2015.
Back home, Plisek will use different experiments to try to capture the youths’ attention and parlay the reaction into a message about God.
Assisting children is what led Plisek to study early education. Helping people and his appreciation of “cop shows” led him towards criminal justice.
Now as a pastor, he can serve both children and adults and still sneak in an episode of “Cops.”