Pastor Andy Flatt-Kuntze was called to serve in Falmouth back in September and immediately had to tackle the job in a pandemic. While he said it has been going well, he looks forward to a chance to meet the congregation in person. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

FALMOUTH — The new pastor at Emmaus Lutheran Church, Andy Flatt-Kuntze, said getting to know his new congregation has deepened the love he has for Maine, but said the pandemic makes his work more difficult.

Flatt-Kuntze was born in Wisconsin but said he and his husband fell in love with Maine while serving a pastoral internship at the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston in 2016. When he had the chance to go to Falmouth he jumped at the opportunity.

“Basically, I was a hospital chaplain. We both fell in love with the state during that summer,” Flatt-Kuntze said. “I really loved my time in the hospital and it lets you know what people are really going through in the community.

Since he started on Sept. 20, he further fell in love with the area and his community despite doing Sunday services through Zoom each week.

“Coming to Maine, I like that with people what you see is what you get, people are very real with you and I appreciate that,” Flatt-Kuntze said. “There is a pride in being from here and living here and you can see it, but driving in I just felt like this was home.”

While getting to know the community, he still looks forward to the end of the pandemic and being able to meet his whole congregation in person.

“I think people are really missing community, having that time set on Sunday mornings is really important both for their spirituality as well as their social aspects of life,” Flatt-Kuntze said. “I am missing my parishioners; there are people who I haven’t physically met with yet. I’ve met them on Zoom and that’s kind of hard. It is a time to really reach out and check in on people, it’s high stress and an isolated time if we don’t remember to check in with one another and really touch base and see where we are at.”

The time is coming for him to meet them, though, with their first in-person worships starting Sunday, Oct. 18. Services will be at the church with limited capacity, but many members may still use Zoom to connect, given the spacing and their health or ability to get out. Still, digital service has had benefits, he said.

“People can join that couldn’t join otherwise. It is getting people back to church, really. I got ordained on Sept. 20 (in Falmouth) but served a church in Hawaii for an internship and we have people waking up at 3 a.m. from joining us, as well as people in Alaska where I served a temporary call.”

Before coming to Maine, Flatt-Kuntze got his Bachelor of Science in 2015 from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, then a master’s in divinity in 2019 from the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

“Today would not have been possible without the influence and encouragement of countless saints who saw a pastor in Andy, even when he had his doubts,” said church secretary Beverley Lindahl, in an email about the new pastor, looking at his previous experience. “As well as countless other experiences and opportunities contributed exponentially to Andy’s calling to ordained ministry.”

Emmaus holds services every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. via Zoom with Sunday school beginning at 8:30 a.m. Evening prayer service is every Wednesday at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Comments are not available on this story.