Growing up in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, faith played a large part in Scott Busacker's family.
It still does. One needs look no further than the back of his new office door at Hope Lutheran Church.
Hanging on the back is his pastoral robe, which is bedecked with colorful stoles that mark different holy times in the Christian faith. Among these garments is a red stole for special occasions, which his mother made for him.
"So this is especially important to me," Busacker said gazing on the piece.
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But when he left to for college, he was undecided as to a path.
"I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for life," he said.
He would later graduate from University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota with degrees in both business and theology. But commerce was not his calling. It became clear that the pulpit was his passion. He enrolled at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.
It was while studying in St. Louis that he met his wife Megan, who is originally from Staunton. After graduating in 2009 with a master’s of divinity, the Rev. Busacker was assigned to a church in Harvel, Illinois, where he and Megan began their family, which includes son Max, 4, and daughter Claire, 2.
In February, Busacker accepted the call to become the new pastor at Hope Lutheran Church last month. He preached his first official service on May 5.
"I'm excited to have a new start. I'm excited to get to know everybody. Highland seems like a great community," Busacker said.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the church's move from Ninth Street to its current facility at 2745 Broadway in Highland. It will also be the first time the church has had a new pastor in 30 years. The Rev. Leonard Laetsch, who recently retired, has been shepherding the Hope Lutheran flock that long.
"I'm so glad that the name of our church is Hope Lutheran Church, and I sincerely want that to resonate that I am here to bring hope to the community, that we all need hope in our life today," Busacker said.
Busacker said the church can expect a pastor who values personal connections as one of the highlights of his job.
"It's a blessing to just sit and learn from people and build relationships," Busacker said.
In turn, he hopes others also learn from him.
In the coming weeks, Busacker will graduate with a doctorate of ministry from Concordia. To earn his advanced degree, Busacker wrote a 200-page thesis paper titled, "Examining What it Means to be a Faithful Christian in 21st Century America." He said the paper is an analysis of how the perception and meaning of being Christian has changed over time versus what it actually means to be a Christian.
Busacker said his congregation can expect the same kind of analysis — though not as lengthy — in his sermons.
"I want to make sure that God's Word written 2,000 years ago is still relevant and applies to our life today," he said.