The Rev. Hans Peterson

Meet the Rev. Hans Peterson of River of Hope at a special outdoor event 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at Library Square.

River of Hope has something to celebrate. It has called its third full-time pastor and he has accepted. The local Lutheran church is introducing the Rev. Hans Peterson at a special public event titled Celebrate Today — Hope for Tomorrow 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, in Library Square in downtown Hutchinson. Admission is free.

According to Jim Nelson, worship and music curator, free root beer floats will be served, plus bring a lawn chair to enjoy live music by the duo Dakota Road, which features Peterson and his longtime performance partner Larry Olson. Joining them will be members of the River of Hope Beer & Hymns Band.

Becoming a minister is a second career for Peterson. He was born and raised in Alaska. When it came time for college, he headed to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. His first career spanned 25 years running Dakota Road Music, a grassroots performance, publishing company. He also put together music gigs to do what he loves — getting people singing.

Joining River of Hope as its pastor begins a new journey for Peterson. When it comes to adventures, he has had many.

“My oldest son and I hiked over 200 miles in Spain on the Way of St. James (el Camino de Santiago),” he wrote in his congregational letter. “Heidi and I hiked for about four weeks on the Appalachian Trail after we were married. We also canoed about 250 miles from EarthRise Farm in Madison, Minnesota, to the farm where we currently live in Belle Plaine. I carried a few seeds with me from that place where we interned all the way to Heidi’s grandparents’ old dairy farm. There we got out of the canoe and spent the next 21 years raising two boys, sheep, chickens, cattle, fruits and vegetables to eat and sell.”

Peterson is making a symbolic journey into Hutchinson on Saturday. He is biking from Hope Lutheran in Jordan, where he interned and was the site of his ordination on Oct. 23, to Hutchinson. It’s a ride of 50 miles. The culmination will be the party in Library Square where Peterson will meet and greet his new community.

“I am excited and truly humbled to join a community that believes there is absolutely nothing that we can do to earn God’s love,” Peterson said. “This radical grace is at the heart of a community that continues to do joyful intergenerational worship well, welcomes all people without exception, and throws love into the world by going out to ‘transform lives through Jesus Christ.’I am honored and thrilled to begin my ordained ministry in such a community as River of Hope.”

In addition to biking, the new pastor has a passion for ultimate Frisbee, hiking, cooking, and he has a soft spot for ice cream and most brands of chips. He also enjoys hanging out with his spouse, Heidi Morlock, and his boys, Nelson, 23, and Simon, 17.

River of Hope worships 10:30 a.m. Sundays at the Hutchinson Event Center, 1005 State Highway 15 S. For more information, call the church office at 320-587-4414 or Peterson at 952-452-4988.