When Pastor Robb Kosky took on the leadership role at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Waterloo 22 years ago, he and his wife had only been married a few months. The members have seen his family grow to include three sons, two of whom have already graduated high school and one still attending high school, just as Kosky has seen the families of the church community grow.
After more than two decades, Kosky will give his last sermon as the church’s pastor on Sunday; starting in February, he will serve as the pastor of Lakeview Lutheran Church in Madison.
A representative of the Synod will take part in Sunday’s service, which will include an ascending service. The pastor explained this will mark a change in the relationship between himself and the congregation; it releases him of his duties as pastor at the church while at the same time releasing the church members from calling on Kosky as their pastor.
“When I first read through that part of the service, it was really moving,” he said. “The idea of the congregation of releasing me from being their pastor, from having that responsibility and really wishing me well; to go on and move into the future. And then me allowing them to move into the future without me.”
The pastor also wants to ensure the congregation is prepared to move forward in Kosky’s absence by working with the church council to get a few pastors to preach for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church before it obtains an interim pastor.
As Kosky and the Waterloo church look toward the future, the pastor also reflected on his more than two decades leading the church.
“St. Paul’s has been a part of our life since for our whole family and whole marriage and our whole lives are kind of wrapped up with the congregation in that way,” he said.
Kosky recalled when his wife was pregnant with their twin sons and ordered to six weeks of bed rest. During this time, the Waterloo congregation and members of Bethel Lutheran Church, where his wife was serving as the pastor at the time, brought meals to the family.
“They helped take care of us.… It was really amazing how they reached out,” the pastor said. “It was having people care for us, but also being involved in other people’s lives, with their births and their baptisms and weddings and funerals.”
Kosky recalls having many great experiences as the pastor, including high school mission trips when members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church would invite their friends to come with on the service trips.
“I’m always going to remember — and miss — working with the kids and the youth,” he said.
The pastor has worked with the seventh and eighth grade confirmation classes and recalls a message he saw from the group early last year, before coronavirus impacted gatherings.
“I use a chalkboard for my confirmation classes and sometimes the kids would draw on it before I got there,” Kosky said. “Last year, someone wrote ‘Pastor Loves You,’ on the board, but just that they know that and one of them would think to write it on the chalkboard was really moving.”
Kosky is proud of how the church’s members have continued to “live out God’s love for us” by welcoming all and not being judgmental or condemning.
“I’m going to miss all of the people,” the pastor said. “The church is really the people.”