Pastor says move to Poulsbo was ‘a God thing’

POULSBO — “Everyone always asks, ‘How in the world did you get here?’” laughed Brad Cramer, the new Youth Pastor at the Poulsbo Church of the Nazarene.

Cramer’s answer: It was a God thing.

With less than six months on the job under his belt, Cramer still chuckles thinking about the road that led him from Kansas to Poulsbo. But, he says, somehow, he knew he was called to be a part of Little Norway.

“God led us here,” Cramer explained. “He opened up the door.”

In early 2004, Cramer was a recent college graduate, had spent a year in active duty in the Army to become a chaplain and he was also contemplating attending seminary. But a job listing for a youth and associate pastor job at a town across the nation caught his eye one day and he applied. But there was just one snag.

“I got this e-mail saying I wasn’t going to get the job,” Cramer recalled. “So I sent one back saying I had some experience and I was very passionate about it. They had a lot of other people with more experience and God led them to other churches and that was what opened the door for me.”

Several months after applying, Cramer was offered the job at Poulsbo Church of the Nazarene and accepted it. Now came the next challenge. He and his wife Natalie were married Sept. 18, 2004 and 10 days later, packed up a Jeep and a U-Haul and headed for Washington. Cramer laughed relaying that they spent their honeymoon in a U-Haul driving cross country.

“Not only was I newlyweds with my wife, but I was newlyweds with the church. It was sort of a double shot,” Cramer said.

But challenges aside, Cramer said his arrival in Little Norway has been nothing short of a miracle. Despite his inexperience, he said the congregation at Poulsbo Church of the Nazarene welcomed them with open arms. They found the couple a house before they even arrived, held a food drive to fill their cupboards and took up a love offering to help cover their relocation expenses.

“It’s a very giving and very loving church,” Cramer commented.

Cramer holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Mid-American Nazarene University in Kansas and has been a member of the National Guard for eight years. He said he’s considering attending seminary and recently interviewed with Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle. But since he likes to say ministry takes many forms, Cramer said not having attended seminary isn’t what he considers a handicap. He believes God uses his talents in the ways that are needed.

“I’m looking into seminary and I was even contemplating it before I came here but I felt called here to test the waters so to speak,” Cramer said.

One of the biggest areas where Cramer feels his talents are being used is with the youth of Poulsbo Church of the Nazarene. For some time, the congregation had not been able to support a youth group of its own, so many of the youngsters attended at St. Charles in Poulsbo. But eventually, the folks at St. Charles told the youth that they needed to be working in their own congregation and Cramer has been helping revitalize that group.

Many of the Nazarene youth have participated in mission trips through other groups or school but Cramer is in the process of planning the first one through the Church of the Nazarene for this coming fall. The group plans to go on a work and witness trip to the Sun Valley Indian Reservation in Arizona. But no matter whether it’s pulling weeds at their own church or building houses for the homeless, Cramer said the main idea is to get the kids interested in using their talents for ministry.

“We’re not going to save the world but we are going to learn something,” Cramer said. “It’s not a life lesson we’re trying to learn but what are our gifts that God has given us.”

Though Cramer uses techniques out of such modern texts as “Coffee Shop Theology” and “Revival’s Golden Key” with the youth he works with, his emphasis is on traditional. He believes youth are often under served in church communities, which leads to large numbers dropping out of their faith later in life. But he said he wants to give them a deeper relationship with God rather than overemphasizing secular culture.

“Some of the times, youth groups are MTV — they’re Jesus is your homeboy,” Cramer said. “We’re not like that. But if they want to hear about who he is, this is the place.”

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