Mountain Road Church welcomes new pastor

Saturday , October 28, 2017 - 5:00 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

FRUIT HEIGHTS — An international search for a new pastor ended with someone already at the church.

Mountain Road Church of Fruit Heights will install as its new pastor, Rev. Don Krafft, the church’s interim pastor and formerly of Grace Presbyterian Church in Layton. The installation service will take place 10:30 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 4.

The only Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Utah, Krafft met the requirements to switch over from the Presbyterian Church in America after a review by the leaders of the EPC.

Krafft began serving as the Mountain Road Church’s interim pastor in January as the congregation continued a two-year search for a new leader and members of the Mountain Road search committee decided he was a good fit to stay on permanently.

“His experience kept rising to the top of the pile of all the people we were looking at,” said Jim Wypijewski of Kaysville, who was part of the search committee and a member of the church since 1993. “The search went out countrywide. We had candidates even from Canada and Mexico. In the meantime, the congregation was falling in love with Don.”

Wypijewski said the seven-member search committee met about 75 times before voting unanimously to recommend Krafft for the position.

Once the congregation had Krafft’s name for a vote, he received a 93 percent approval rating.

Members say they are happy with the choice.

“He has long-term plans,” said Wypijewski. In the church’s 27-year history, Krafft is only the third permanent pastor.

The previous two pastors both retired from the church. Wypijewski believes having pastors serve out their careers with the congregation is a good sign that the church is a good place for leaders to find themselves.

A deeply religious man, Wypijewski said Krafft is very Biblical in his preaching and gives real-life examples.

“He is a deeply caring person,” he said. “He cares about what happens to people in the congregation. He makes a lot of hospital visits and contacts people.”

Among those Wypijewski has seen Krafft reach out to are visitors who have come to the church and relatives of members.

“He has been mentoring a few people who have been thinking about joining the church,” Wypijewski said.

And when a crisis arose in the congregation shortly after the vote to install him, Wypijewski said the way Krafft handled the situation reassured the congregation that they had made the right decision.

Brett Heikens of Layton, chairman of the search committee, said he is impressed with Krafft’s extensive background.

“He’s got a lot of experience,” he said. “His background is fairly extensive.”

Heikens said Krafft’s work at several churches has included starting congregations from scratch and working in large churches.

“He has learned a lot of skills that were important for our search committee,” Heikens said.

“He’s a compassionate individual and a dynamic preacher,” Heikens said. “He has a real heart for Utah. ... And working with the uniqueness of the culture with the predominant LDS faith.”

Layton resident Dr. Shannon Burke, chairwoman of the board of deacons at Mountain Road Church, said she likes Krafft’s grace-based ministry.

“He has great people skills,” she said. “He is a fun person to be around.”

Among his skills are encouraging others, Burke said. “He is good at helping people.”

As an interim pastor, she said Krafft was able to encourage the congregation and bring hope.

“He is incredibly caring and incredibly hard working,” she said. “He came in and was willing to do what needed to be done. ... We are just really excited about the future of Mountain Road right now.”

Krafft also is happy about staying in Utah.

Having served at Grace Presbyterian Church for 12 years, Krafft said he has fallen in love with the state.

“We really got captivated by the beauty of Utah, the mountains,” Krafft said. “It’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family.”

Krafft also is noted for offering weekly sermons at Snowbasin called “Sermon on the Mountain.” He plans to continue that service also.

“I preach in an expository way,” Krafft said. “I typically preach through a New Testament book and an Old Testament book and go back and forth. I rotate between Old and New Testament and preach through it verse by verse, chapter by chapter.”

Among his goals are to get along well with neighbors of the church, he said. 

Members said such efforts will continue a long tradition of church members serving alongside members of the LDS faith.

Wypijewski said when the church began operating out of its building in 1993, members of a local LDS ward helped pay for the building and helped landscape the premises.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

 

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