Farewell, Kelsey and Josh

News | July 8, 2019

Pastors Josh Kestner and Kelsey Fitting-Snyder are saying farewell as their two-year time at St. Paul comes to a close. Their work has touched the lives of many. Josh and his wife KD will be moving to South Carolina, where Josh will be campus pastor at University Lutheran Church in Clemson, and KD will be a nurse at a hospital.

Kelsey and her husband, Jon, will move to Waco, Texas, where Kelsey hopes to find a pastoral position and Jon will begin work on his doctoral studies in church music.

Farwell receptions will be held after each service on the weekend of July 20-21. If you’d like to donate to a gift for Josh and Kelsey, please write a check to St. Paul clearly marked for “Residents’ Gift.” The amount collected will be equally shared between the two. You’re also invited to send individual cards or notes to the church, or drop a written expression in the basket on the farewell weekend, July 20 and 21.

A few St. Paul people offered farewell wishes to Josh and Kelsey:

“Josh has shown great love for my family. He and his wife, KD, have joined us for dinners and Thanksgiving, and they have been great guests and lifesavers at parties. He has shown incredible patience with our 5-year-old autistic son, Leo. Josh didn’t push, and allowed Leo to get comfortable with him at his own pace. Now, Josh is essentially a Santa Claus to Leo. While Josh prefers fist bumps to hugs, he’s got one of the biggest hearts I know. He also has one of the most distinctive wardrobes. I’m blessed to have gotten to know Josh, and it’s an honor to call him and his incredible wife, KD, friends.” – Kris Voyna

“I have to say that Kelsey has been quite the influence in our lives. From the moment we met in our less-than-ideal or comfortable situation, she has been completely down to earth and kind to us. We clicked with her instantly. It probably helps that I feel she and I have similar personalities. There have been some firsts for us as well as Kelsey in our journey of friendship and faith, including our child’s memorial service followed by the baptisms of myself and our son. God gave us her friendship in a time we needed it. Apart from these major events in our lives, she has such a heartwarming smile to see every time we come to church. We wish her success, happiness, and love in her next adventures.” – Elizabeth Koranda

“How does one explain Josh Kestner to someone who has never met him? Friendly, yes. Funny, mostly. A bit unorthodox, for sure. He is also passionate about helping others, unapologetically honest and one of the best friends I’ve ever had. He cares more deeply about the world around him than anyone I know. He also believes in the goodness of people to make our world a better place. These qualities of his have made me a better person, one I could not have been without him. I never would have believed that someone who would be around so briefly could be so impactful on me. I can’t wait to see what Josh’s next chapter holds, but I know that he will make a profound impact on many more people, just as he did with me.” – Mike Reinholdt

“What makes Kelsey special is her ability to take her knowledge and share it with others in a way that is exciting and fun, even if you are totally ignorant on the subject. It was so true when it came to studying the book of Exodus in Heart. Soul. Mind. Being of the senior generation, most of the stories were familiar. I discovered a whole new perspective and meaning from them. Placing the stories historically, relating them to the New Testament, and tying them to modern practices made them not only interesting, but important in a more lively way. It has been fun to watch Kelsey grow since coming to St. Paul, and in her turn, she has helped me do the same.” – Jeanne Withycombe

Most valuable lesson learned at St. Paul

JK: Hospitality. I’ve never been in a church community that was so good at hospitality. Whether it’s your first time walking through the doors or you’ve been a member for 30 years, there is a sense of belonging. You matter here. Before anything happens at St. Paul, someone is asking the question, “Are we leaving anybody out? How can we make this more accessible and comfortable for everyone?” Ministry is about relationships. And relationships can only thrive in a place where people feel safe, heard, cared for, and empowered. A church should be a place that offers those things.

KFS: I grew up admiring great pastors, and I know some awesome ones now. I thought in order to be good I needed to be like them. But what I learned over these last two years is that in order to be good I just need to be myself. One of the most valuable things I learned was to trust myself, and let that shape my ministry with people. Also, it is no longer OK to double space after a period in a sentence.

Favorite QCA place (besides St. Paul of course)

JK: I wish my answer was somewhere in nature. I love to be outside but…I also love to eat. KD and I wanted to try as many local restaurants as we could, but we kept ending up at Lemon Grass Cafe in Moline. There are so many things on the menu, and they’re all delicious! We’ve had some wonderful dinners there together and with friends.

KFS: For trivia, Me & Billy; for running, Duck Creek Parkway; for hanging with friends, Armored Gardens; for coffee, Aroma.

Favorite food at a St. Paul event

JK: The side and dessert tables at Mayfest

KFS: St. Paul punch


With unanimous affirmation, the congregation of St. Paul voted in April to call Hayden Kvamme to serve as pastor in our congregation through the Pastoral Residency Program, starting in August.
Hayden will be ordained on Friday, July 26, at 5:30 p.m., at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Dubuque.

Installation for Hayden and Peter Pettit, St. Paul’s new teaching pastor, will be on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the 5:30 p.m. worship. Paul Ostrem, assistant to the bishop for the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the ELCA, will be present.

3 Comments on “Farewell, Kelsey and Josh”

  • Patty Herzberg

    July 12, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    How/why is it no longer ok to double space after a period in a sentence?!? Will miss you both.

  • Heidi Herman

    July 11, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Josh, Welcome (back) to South Carolina! If you ever get down to Charleston, come visit St. Matthews Lutheran on King Street and say hi! I will miss you on the ASP trips – 4 square will not be the same without you!

  • Georgia Dugan

    July 11, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Whoever they go, their stars will continue to shine bright but gosh we are going to miss them.

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