By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Pastor. Teacher. Career Development Coordinator. But above all else, father!
Craig Stadtmueller takes on many tasks in life. For the past three years, he’s been the co-pastor at the Berean Bible Church outside of Monticello, along E-16. Stadtmueller’s path to becoming a pastor is quite interesting
Working as an IT for a pharmaceutical company in Chicago, Stadtmueller said he became the unofficial counselor.
“I was the one people came to with their troubles,” he said.
With several friends in the ministry, Stadtmueller, who was single at the time, said he was new to his faith, but felt something pulling him in another direction. He researched several seminary colleges in the U.S., but landed on a four-year program in Australia!
“I looked at schools here,” said Stadtmueller referring to the U.S., “but Australia had what I was looking for. I appreciate their view of the Bible, what God is doing in the world.”
A few months before he moved to the “Land Down Under,” Stadtmueller met his now-wife Lisa. They decided to keep their relationship going while he was away. When he came home for break, they got engaged and Lisa moved with him to Australia. The two spent three years there as Stadtmueller finished his schooling.
In describing Australians, Stadtmueller said the majority of them do not have a religious affiliation.
“They have a rich Christian history, though,” he said. A small percentage of Australians are Christians today.
After looking for and applying for a home church in the U.S., the Stadtmuellers came back to Monticello for a visit. They missed the close-knit community feel and being around friends and family, that they decided to stay. Stadtmueller grew up about 6 miles outside of Monticello.
The Berean Bible Church agreed to take on a part-time pastor in addition to Mike Martin, who started the church. Interestingly enough, Martin was Stadtmueller’s high school Spanish teacher.
“The church has an intimate, family setting,” said Stadtmueller.
Stadtmueller describes his role within the church, aside from preaching, as “teaching the Bible.” He said he and Martin are “very like-minded.”
Having lived and work literally all over the world and the U.S., Stadtmueller said he wants to take what he learned elsewhere and bring it here to Monticello.
“People are confused what Christ is all about,” he said. “This community did so much for me growing up, my main focus is to bring the message to them.”
He is doing just that. Stadtmueller visits area churches and non-profit groups, speaking about his passion. He’s spoken to MOPS and MomTime, as well as at Wayne Zion Church and even during the Iowa Firefighters Association convention in Monticello last September.
To add to his list of chores, Stadtmueller recently took on a new job at Kirkwood’s Jones Regional Education Center, Career Development Coordinator. Lisa Folken who was promoted within JREC previously held the position. Stadtmueller has been teaching at JREC for the past few years. He taught computer courses and “How College Works,” a class on preparing high school students for college life.
“I enjoy the student interaction,” said Stadtmueller about working at JREC.
With his new position, he will be visiting high schools, students and parents, talking about the opportunities Kirkwood has to offer. His job also entails career counseling.
“Kirkwood is not what it was when I graduated,” said Stadtmueller. “Today, there are so many opportunities.”
Sold on what Kirkwood is all about, Stadtmueller is a strong proponent in attending community colleges.
“I help get students thinking about the courses and how they can be applied,” he said.
Working with eight different high schools in the JREC area, Stadtmueller said JREC is a strong model for how rural education works.
“I want to raise awareness in Monticello about what JREC has to offer the community.”
When he’s not working for pay, Stadtmueller helps his father, Richard, on the farm from time to time.
“When I came back, I knew I would be out there and get into farming again somehow,” said Stadtmueller. “I have a deep appreciation for it.”
After renting a home in Monticello for a few years, the Stadtmueller family recently decided to remodel a ranch-style house outside of town. Craig and Lisa said they wanted more space for their two young kids, Jessica and Brandt, to run around outside.
“We’ve always been interested in looking for something outside of town,” said Stadtmueller, “a place to put our own touch on.”
A fixer-upper on Stone Bridge Road was the perfect fit for this family. Enjoying the outdoors, they have room to run around, play with their kids and take in the scenic countryside, a view they didn’t have in town.
When Stadtmueller isn’t behind the pulpit, behind a desk at Kirkwood or lending a hand in the community, he takes his family camping, hiking or hunting.
“We’re a very outdoorsy family,” he said. “When we go hiking, our kids discover everything.” Even in their own backyard, young Jessica was amazed at the different rocks she found under the porch and the cross-shaped twig she saw.
“I love being out here with my family,” said Stadtmueller looking out at their home in the country. “Living in Monticello, the people are so nice and friendly and welcoming. It’s rare to find a community like this.”
PHOTO: The Stadtmueller family enjoys spending time outdoors with their children any chance they get. With a busy schedule, Craig makes sure to take the time to be with his family. From left, Lisa holding Brandt, Craig and Jessica. (Photo by Grace McClusky)