By JEN CARDINES
Pastor Daniel W. Hille has traveled to every state in the Continental U.S. and even foreign countries. He hasn’t spent more than six years at one address since he was in middle school, until he planted roots in Connecticut.
Now, Southington’s Zion Lutheran Church welcomes him as their new pastor, and his spirit is a perfect match for the local congregation, which is known locally for their famous apple fritters and known abroad for their commitment to mission trips.
“This congregation has a long history of really good mission trips, and I‘ve been doing that for a long time,” he said. “To come into a church that has a good public presence, and know that’s a skill set, I’m playing to my strengths.”
Southington’s newest pastor is no stranger to mission trips and being active in a community. Just last summer he took 14 youth volunteers to Romania to work with orphaned children. He once spearheaded a 5K road race, and he said that he enjoys creating big events for church communities.
Zion Lutheran was the perfect fit with its clothing drives, mission trips, and those fritters.
“Zion here is really a driving force in the Apple Harvest Festival because they do the whole apple fritter thing,” said Hille. “It takes a certain almost business mind and a ministry mind to understand how you operate that as a ministry and community event.”
The pastor went to college in Columbus, Ohio before attending a four-year Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) graduate program in Chicago. For the past six years he served as associate pastor at a church in Avon.
“It allowed me to develop skills I didn’t have and refine skills I did have,” he said about his work in Avon.
That work, he said, prepared him well for his new position, and he leapt at the chance to join the Southington congregation. He was approved unanimously by the congregation in late November.
“I’ve found there’s a really great ethos to the town, and I mean this as a total superlative,” said Hille. “It’s a hardworking town and it’s really proud about that. It’s such a proud town, and that I can get behind.”
Hille comes from a small North Carolina town with only 800 people, but he said that Southington feels like home with its easy access to highways, schools, stores, and entertainment.
The pastor welcomed the chance put down roots after a hectic two week transition from his previous job when he got married and moved…all within a 20-day period. The 6-foot-7 pastor brings his big stature, boundless energy, and commitment to a very active church community.
He said that his sermons will cater to everybody in the community.
“The hard part is that there are people in the sanctuary who are nine weeks old, and there are people who are 90 years old. And I have to hit every one of them,” he said. “Any good preacher stands there on this precipice with one foot in scripture and the tradition of faith, and the other foot in pop culture and the world in which we live.”
Zion Lutheran Church is located at 531 Woodruff St. The church holds services on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 8 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Sunday education hour for adults and children is held weekly at 9 a.m.