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December 05, 2013
This is the time in the church calendar the Rev. Krister Ulmanis enjoys the most — Advent.

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church interim minister said, “It’s a peaceful time before the hustle and bustle of the holiday.”

Since his arrival in September, Ulmanis has been getting to know the congregation from the adults to the children, attending meetings and gatherings and in a few weeks playing a shepherd in the children’s Christmas pageant. With Advent’s arrival, he can focus on preparing the congregation for a new year.

Born and raised in Sweden, Ulmanis told his parents at the age of 6 he was called to be a minister, entering the seminary in 1986.

“It’s the whole gospel journey — helping people through their life cycle, the good and bad,” he said of why he chose this career.

Ulmanis has a Master of Divinity degree from Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) Lutheran Seminary and spent a year at Western Michigan University.

While attending seminary, Ulmanis said, he and a friend had season tickets to the Detroit Lions for four years. “I got to know the metro Detroit area. It feels like coming home. It’s a wonderful experience coming to Grosse Pointe and metro Detroit. Michigan is the state I know best.”

Since becoming a minister, Ulmanis has had a year assignment in Latvia, his parents’ native country. There he helped rebuild the churches following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and visiting relatives.

“People just flocked to the church. It was an exciting time to be a part of those changes. Every Saturday there were 30 or 40 baptisms,” he said.

Upon his return, Ulmanis has served four churches, including one in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Now he lives in Windsor and serves in an interim minister position for the Ontario and Michigan synods.

Ulmanis follows the Rev. Fred Harms, who retired earlier this year after 22 years serving the Grosse Pointe Farms congregation. The church also saw its organist, Linda Bauer, of 33 years retire, and associate minister, the Rev. Mosal Collier, return to his native Sierra Leone. These three events Ulmanis describes as losses.

“My role is to help the congregation process, take time to grieve the loss before starting the search for a new pastor. It’s life changing when someone so well liked leaves,” Ulmanis said, who anticipates to be at St. Paul’s for at least a year if not two years, assisting the congregation to cultivate its strengths, its outreach and music ministries.

For more information about the church, call (313) 881-6670. The church is located at 375 Lothrop.

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