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Russell Jensen

I have had the joy of serving as pastor of Maplewood Mennonite Church since August 28, 2016.   I’m a ‘Kiwi’, from Auckland, New Zealand, and my wife, Denise, is a ‘Hoosier’ from Elkhart, IN.   We met while volunteering as young adults at Immanuel House in Israel.  Our story is a little unusual, but we’re comfortable with that, and so are our three married daughters who are proud of their dual nationality.

I was raised attending Baptist churches in NZ.  I grew toward faith through my childhood and teen years, and became a committed follower of Jesus during my first year of college.  During my college years I became aware of a growing sense of call toward pastoral ministry, but was in no hurry to attend seminary.  After graduating from Auckland Teachers College, I taught for three years and then travelled the world for three years, including a year in Israel, during which time that drawing toward pastoral ministry only deepened.

Denise and I married in Elkhart, IN, in 1978, where I worked in construction by day and attended evening classes at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.  We moved to NZ in 1980, where I further prepared for ministry at NZ Baptist Theological College.  Upon graduation, we moved to Wellington, NZ’s capital city, where I served my first pastorate at Karori Baptist Church.  Since then, I have also served at Middlebury Church of the Brethren, Middlebury, IN, and Belmont Neighborhood Fellowship, a daughter congregation of Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart, IN.

Denise and I enjoy walking, for both health and pleasure.  We have walked across England and Scotland, and have enjoyed hikes in Switzerland and Israel.  We are also ‘High Pointers’, and have reached the highest points of 33 states… so far.  Walking reminds us of the more important journeys we are each on, the journeys of life and faith.  As a pastor I am privileged to walk alongside and encourage fellow ‘pilgrims’, as we together seek to follow Jesus.  If you’d like to begin this journey, or you have but need fellow travelers to ‘walk’ with, I invite you to come and join us on the journey!

‘Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths’. Psalm 25:4


Steve Hite

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