Talk Story with Cindy Arndt

Cindy Arndt arrived Oct. 1 as the new pastor at Lihue Lutheran Church.

She can already say she loves it.

“I think the people here are wonderful. Of course, the aloha spirit is filling the air all the time,” she said. “I’ve never really met people that work together so much and are so understanding of each other. I like them a lot.”

Arndt, who moved from Lacrosse, Wisconsin, takes the place of Pastor Paul Kirchner, who had served as pastor of the church since 1998. She’ll guide the church, along with office manager Noreen Javinar, that has a congregation of about 125 people. The church is in a beautiful setting at the top of Ho‘omana Road, where a parsonage serves as home to Arndt and her husband, Larry. Between them, back on the mainland, they have a blessed family of six children and 13 grandchildren.

The sanctuary is simple, yet stunning, with stained glass windows, a mural of Christ on the wall above the altar, surrounded by pillars with gold trim. White benches and a balcony offer sanctuary seating for two Sunday morning services at 8 and 10. Lihue Lutheran Church is holding three Christmas Eve services.

The congregation was started in June of 1881 with the arrival of a group of German immigrants, who came to work at the Lihue Sugar Plantation

Arndt loves the history of he beautiful church, which is a replica of the original edifice built in 1885 and destroyed by Hurricane “Iwa” in 1982.

How did you end up here?

We’ve been coming to the island for a number of years. My husband Larry’s cousin lives here and every year we would come to church when we were here with Larry’s cousin. I got to know the congregation and she was in a leadership position at the time. They were looking for a pastor and asked me to sit in. I got to know the people pretty well. They asked me to come. I had to think about it, pray about it more than anything. And so we made the change to come here.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I have been ordained for 20 years. I studied at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. And then I studied at Luther Seminary of the Twin Cities. Then I went down to Wartburg Seminary in DuBuque, Iowa. I received a master’s of divinity.

What led you to this career path?

I started out as a young person in the United Church of Christ and they asked me to preach. That’s when I got interested. And I finished my college degree and went to seminary after that. I came back to being a Lutheran. I just felt the call ever since. And these people have pretty much called me. And God called me first. I go where I’m needed, I guess.

What do you enjoy most about this work?

I almost have to say it’s working with caring and loving people to the glory of God. That’s the center for me. To have that be what brings us together, which motivates everything we do. Going out there. This church is so good at doing mission work. That’s been a real joy for me, to be that involved in the community that way. And of course, the Sunday services are always that time of worship. And children. I love children. I just love people.

How was the transition leaving family on the mainland to move here? What helped with that adjustment?

FaceTime. That gets us through the hard times. It’s just that we enjoy the people here so much. We miss our families but yet at the same time, they’ve made us feel right at home.

Does Lihue Lutheran Church have many ministries?

There are ministries for men, women and children. We do the Mobile Munchies on Thursdays. We do the God’s Grinds once a month for KEO. They make quilts. And the youth are very active. They’re going to go to the national youth event in 2018. We’re raising funds for them to be able to do that.

What is the size of your staff here?

Me and Noreen. We have a lot of volunteers, too.

How important is your faith in your life?

My faith is number one. I live and breath by my faith. It’s the most important thing. God is leading us and guiding us and just being there for us. Love. Love is important. My faith is my bedrock.

If you could tell our readers one or two things about you or Lihue Lutheran Church, what would they be?

The church is such a welcoming place. That is one of the things. There is a place for people to fit in of all ages. We could welcome anybody here. One of the things when I interviewed here, they wanted to know I was open to people of all kinds. So that’s one of the most important things at this church. We are the church of all nations. Anybody can come here and feel loved and accepted for who they are.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I would say my favorite Bible verse is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:5) That to me encompasses all of us.

What do you do for fun, to relax?

I like doing projects around the house. Getting settled in here. I like running and walking and going to the beach. Gardening and learning about the different flowers around here. Right now, I left most of my hobbies back in Wisconsin because we didn’t move everything. I do stained glass but that was too much to bring.

Do you find most people are aware of the long history behind this church?

We have a lot of people coming in and taking pictures of the church. The tours are coming up here all the time. It’s fun to stop and talk to them once in a while. Where you from, what brings you here. You meet people of all kinds. One person said they were German and had been to Germany. They were looking for some more ancestors out in the cemetery and tracing those roots back. It’s just fascinating. There is no place like this.

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