Greetings from the Vojta family!
Gail and I are excited about starting this next chapter in our lives with the people of Zion and St. Michael’s. I will begin my ministry with you on Monday, December 11th. Here are some things you might want to know about us as we begin our ministry together.
- The name Vojta, is pronounced Voy-ta. It is a Czech/Bohemian name. People generally call me Pastor Dan, Rev. Dan, or Pastor Vojta. I am not particular; I will answer to them all!
- Gail and I have rented an apartment in Horicon for six months. During that time, we will be selling our home in Burlington and looking for a new home in the Horicon/Hustisford area.
- My phone number is 262-510-3915. I encourage you to call me 24/7/365 if you are in need of pastoral care/prayer, if there is an emergency, or if you know somebody who has been admitted to the hospital. I do welcome calls at night, and I have found that the best policy is: “when in doubt ..call”.
- My wife Gail is a chemistry professor at Carroll University in Waukesha. She will be commuting during the school year.
- Gail and I met at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. We’ve been married 31 years.
- We have two sons, David and Joel. David is 27 years old and runs a paper folding machine for QuadGraphics in Burlington. He will continue to live in the Burlington area while he hangs out with his girlfriend Heather. They attend her Baptist church in Kenosha. Joel is 23 years old and is a recent graduate of Concordia University in Mequon where he majored in computer science and multimedia. He is currently in the Master’s degree program in Data Science (Computer Science and Statistics) at UW Milwaukee. He currently attends an LCMS congregation near campus.
- We are really looking forward to getting back into small-town/rural ministry. My first call was to Peace Lutheran, a country church in West Burlington, IA. My second call was to Trinity Lutheran, which is a large church in the small town of New Hampton, IA. My last call was to Peace Lutheran, a small suburban congregation in Burlington, WI. We are a very mellow couple, and we like being out in nature.
- I was an only child, but I’m very close to my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my cousins’ children. My father loaded trucks at a dairy in Los Angeles and my mother was a secretary in Minneapolis. They both died in 1989. My parents separated when I was three years old. I lived in a small town of Wells, MN, Minneapolis, MN, and in Salt Lake City, UT. I spent most summers with my dad in Los Angeles.
- Gail grew up in La Grange Park, IL. Her father was an engineer and her mother was a housewife. She has an younger sister in Tacoma, WA and a younger brother who lives in Naperville, IL. Her parents also live in Naperville. Her family has both German and Czech ancestry, so Gail enjoys any meal with sauerkraut!
- Over the years I have worked as a juvenile probation officer in Faribault, MN and a suicide prevention counselor in Minneapolis. I worked at the VA and flew around Minnesota as a flight medic (E4) in the Army Reserves/Minnesota Army National Guard. I also served as a chaplain at Stillwater prison in Minnesota and in the Navy Reserve Chaplain Corps (O3). I attended graduate school in counseling at Iowa State University, and became a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at the Family Therapy Training Institute/Aurora Family Service of Milwaukee. More recently I volunteered as an EMT in the local rescue Squad. I also served on the Board of Directors for a local social service agency, Love Inc., for 14 years.
- I became a Lutheran in a very conscious way as a teenager in Salt Lake City. I spent much of my teenage years reading the Bible and talking to every religious person I met about what they believed and why. I affirm the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions as the clearest teaching of God’s word. I have a strong commitment to preaching the Bible as God’s word. I believe that following or rejecting Jesus Christ has eternal consequences. I believe that putting your trust in Jesus alone and following him in a life of selfless service is the most exciting adventure a person can have. I love to help others understand just how good the Good News of Jesus Christ really is. I also have strong sense of God’s providence and the apostle Paul’s comforting exhortation in Romans 8:28 is never far from my mind.
- I love praying with people and studying the Bible. If you or anyone you know needs prayer, please call me ASAP. If you or anyone you know wants to do a Bible study, please let me know and we will start one.
- I believe it’s the pastor’s primary job to preach and teach the word of God with conviction, and to equip the people of the Church to become more faith-filled and effective disciples of Jesus. I assume that the Holy Spirit is at work through preaching and the sacraments to bring us all to a greater knowledge of our sin, a greater sense of awe at God’s grace given to us in Jesus, and a growing passion to serve the least and the lost out of gratitude for what Jesus has done for us.
- The wisest pastors I have known have lived by the rule that you should observe, and listen to the members of a church during your first year there. I think that’s wise advice to follow, whenever possible. Just having a new pastor can be stressful enough. But I think we have to be honest that there will probably be some changes, but my general practice has been to add things rather than take them away.
- I hope to spend a great deal of time visiting people in the first year and half of our ministry together. I really enjoy having fun with people and getting to know them better. I also think that God wants us to have a not so hidden agenda when we get together as brothers and sisters in Christ, namely I think God wants us to pay attention to how God is at work in each other’s lives: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10. So when I meet with people I am always trying to sort out what their gifts, passions, and personality might be. GIFTS tell us WHAT God wants you to do. PASSIONS/INTERESTS (young people, the sick, world missions etc.), tell us about WHERE God is calling you to focus your service. PERSONALITY (introversion/extroversion, or level of spontaneity) tells us about HOW God is calling you to serve.
- I also need you to help me understand these communities that God has called us to serve. So I’d like to know: What are some of the strengths of these communities? What are some of the biggest struggles facing your neighbors? Why are you an active member of this congregation? How can the people of our congregation help you know Jesus better and serve our neighbors more effectively? What advice would you give me as I start out?
- I know that the journey of developing a collaboration between the two congregations that points others to Jesus will be one that is filled with both joys and challenges. I believe that we need to commit ourselves to pray, pray, and then pray some more. I believe we need to experiment, and take time to figure out what works. Along the way people in leadership need let people know what’s going on, and highlight all the things this new partnership enables us to accomplish as we seek to draw more and more people to follow Jesus in this world and the next.