Stateline Strong: Local pastor extends reach from one church to hundreds

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A Belvidere pastor proves the plans for our lives are always subject to change.

After all the songs are sung and the prayers are prayed, there is silence in the sanctuary at Immanuel Lutheran in Belvidere.

“We gather around God’s good gifts, then we scatter,” said Pastor Allan Buss.

As the bells fade and the pews clear, there’s a message each person takes away from the pulpit and the man standing behind it for almost 18 years.

“He’s kept the main thing, the main thing,” said John Haig, a member of Immanuel for 11 years.

“all through his ministry here he’s always kept the main thing the main thing,” Jan Tyler said. She’s been a member of Immanuel’s congregation for nearly 60 years.

For Pastor Allan Buss and his congregation, the “main thing” is connecting people to Christ for life.

“it’s not about him, it’s about Jesus,” explained Haig, “and that’s why he always points to the cross because he’s just here to help connect us to him.”

It’s a connection that turned into a calling at an early age for Pastor Buss.

“My eighth grade teacher actually wrote on my report card, ‘pursue work in the church’,” smiled Pastor Buss. Buss graduated from Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin. before heading to northern California for his vicarage. In 1990, Pastor Buss led a flock of faithful in Gilberts, Illinois and a decade later, found a new one in Belvidere.

“I have learned how to be a good pastor on a good day because of the people I’ve served,” said Pastor Buss.
His service extends beyond Immanuel’s sanctuary.

“He’s everywhere,” laughed Belvidere Fire Chief Al Hyser. He’s worked with Pastor Buss for nearly a decade as he serves as a chaplain.

“He’s been to just about every ceremony that we have whether it be a swearing in or a retirement,” explained Chief Hyser. “Recently, we just put a new fire engine into service he was here for the dedication of that. He blessed it.”

Now the firefighters are giving Pastor Buss their blessing because the man who often sits across the breakfast table from them, is now packing his boxes for the next move in his ministry.

“For all these years I’ve been saying to trust God,” explained Pastor Buss, “so now I get to trust even though it’s not clear.”

Pastor Buss is taking over as the president of the Northern Illinois District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. He’ll oversee more than 200 churches.

“You are responsible for in some way for spiritual care for professional church workers, to cast a vision, to help churches make wise choices, to hold people accountable to the teachings of God’s word,” said Pastor Buss.

Following his final message at Immanuel, there were mixed emotions from those who have watched the once green and mustached minister, grow their congregation in numbers and spirit.

“It’s a blessing in a way but it’s hard to see him leave,” said John Lempke and Richard Davis, members of Immanuel Lutheran Church since 1979.

“He’s guided us through our highs, he’s guided us through our lows and he’s always been there for us,” Haig added.

Songs of that sentiment are drowned in sound as members look to Pastor Buss to ring in a new future for  hundreds of other flocks.

“They’re going to be so blessed and they’re going to enjoy the blessings we’ve had over the last 17-and-a-half years,” said Tyler.

Pastor Buss will be installed as the President of the Northern Illinois District on June 3rd.

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