Pastor home again at Nazarene Church
Members of Iola Church of the Nazarene, 1325 N. Walnut, got more than they bargained for in filling their pulpit with the Rev. John Comstock. He started on Nov. 25.
Darren Baldwin pastored the church from 2011 until he left a few months ago. That led the congregation to turn to Comstock, who had taken the role of a supply pastor — one who fills a pulpit when needed — upon retirement in 2012.
Since the Rev. Comstock began his ministerial journey in the mid-1980s, wife Karen has been at his side, providing support.
He was born and raised in Colony, so although they live in Ottawa, the new assignment was something of a homecoming. More so for Karen. She grew up in Iola as Karen Coblentz, in a two-story house on East Lincoln.
Not only is Karen a former Iolan, she faithfully attended the Nazarene Church at 309 S. First St. and then the new facility when it opened in 1966 on North Walnut Street.
The Comstocks graduated from high school in 1965 — he Colony, she Iola — and were married in 1967.
“I have lots of good memories” of the church, Karen gushed. “It’s exciting to be back in Iola,” and in the short time here, “we’ve had a lot of new people coming to services.”
Growing a church and its congregation “is difficult because there’s so much competition with many things going on seven days weeks and kids involved in so many sports,” she said.
However, “people need to set their priorities and put their church first,” Comstock added. “You can read the Bible and pray by yourself, but you need fellowship with other Christians.”
They have three children and 12 grandchildren.
MINISTRY was not at the forefront for the Comstocks early in their married life.
He graduated from ACC and completed requirements for a degree at Emporia State University in 1969.
Comstock worked at Comstock Lumber in Colony and then owned Comstock Lumber and Home Center in Fort Scott, “before the Lord called me to preach.”
He completed ordination studies and was at churches in Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Missouri prior to retirement.
Among his first ministerial tasks years ago, with the aid of Karen, was to reopen a Nazarene Church in Erie. Each week the Comstocks trekked 55 miles from their home in Fort Scott to nurse the church back to its feet.
His mission, now and always, has been, “to help folks find the missing ingredients of their lives that will help them find a better, more fulfilling life for now and eternity. Using God’s biblical truths we try to help folks who struggle with personal hurt, emotional pain, loneliness, discouragement, addictions and life decisions.”
Iola Church of the Nazarene services are at 9:45 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Wednesdays. All are welcome.