CAMANCHE — Ben LaGrange, 39, hopes to expand programs at St. Mark's Methodist Church in Camanche.
Ben started at St. Mark's in August as a student pastor. Residing in Bettendorf, he is attending seminary at the University of Dubuque.
For the past 15 years, Ben has been involved in youth groups and bible study groups, but he never expected to go into the ministry. A couple years ago, he felt called by God.
"There's nothing special about me," Ben said. "I'm a man with a bible and a mouth."
During the time he was called, everywhere Ben went, he was coming across Jeremiah 29:11, talking about God's plan for his life. Whether on billboard, from a person on the street or in a sermon by a minister who was a dear friend, this message kept coming back to him.
Around the same time, two friends experienced deaths in their families without a minister of their own. After serving as pastor for the two funerals, Ben decided that is what God wanted him to do.
Ben's family has been supportive of this choice. He and his wife, Tracy, have two children, Bella, 10 and Elliott, 7. Whenever she feels he is studying too hard, Bella will bring him a cookie to cheer him up.
Since joining St. Mark's two months ago, Ben has started looking into ways of expanding the church's outreach and work, including monthly projects.
This month, St. Mark's will be collecting shoes for children as part of the Shoes for orphan Souls program, something Ben has been involved in for five years. New children-appropriate shoes can be dropped off at St. Mark's, Christ Church in Davenport and Dollar General in Camanche.
From 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 19, the church will also bring skating to area youth with the traveling group from the Quad-City based Skatechurch. This program offers skating ramps and tricks to entertain area children. More information on the organization can be found on Facebook.