Meet our pastor!
Pastor Jim Aniol
After thirty plus years in business in the Chicago area, I was always in positions of leadership, yet I was always seeking something, never fully satisfied with my career or religious life.
Fast forward to today, and I find at age 59, that I am finally doing what God created me to do, pastor His churches. I wake up every morning thanking God for calling me to ministry, and preparing me to lead part of His flock. Having worked almost an entire career in business has prepared me mentally, technically, and educationally for the life of an itinerant United Methodist Church pastor.
In 2007, at age 49, I moved my wife Christy, and daughter Elizabeth, to De Pere Wisconsin. I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t feel loved by the Father, walking with Jesus and filled by the Holy Spirit. In 2008 I was invited to attend New Hope UMC in De Pere and for the first time in my life I felt part of a Christian community, heard preaching that inspired me and finally uplifted my spirit. I began to study the Bible for the first time in my life and God began to place additional key players in my life. During Bible study, certain verses began to speak to me, among the most significant were.
39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:39-40 (NRSV)
So in verse 39, if you are to love your neighbor as yourself, how could you not invite them to church? After all, that is how I was directed to true Christian community. If I love my neighbors and friends shouldn’t I share what I have? And in the following verses from Matthew, Jesus gave me my marching orders when He told me to “Go”.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NRSV)
After being selected to be the Evangelism Lead, our evangelism team started to attend outreach events and get involved in the community. I was now inspired by the Holy Spirit and hungry for a deeper relationship with my God. My Bible study teacher detected this need and served as my sponsor for the Fox Valley Walk to Emmaus in April 2012. This weekend was the most spiritual event to occur in my life up to this point, a major turning point in my life, it was here that I found out about the Local Licensed Pastor path to ministry.
After the Walk I knew that things would never be the same, but I had no idea how drastically my life was about to change. I received my answer during a sermon in May 2012 when I clearly heard the word “Lead” and I felt the message to my very core, it felt like Jesus was hugging my heart, it was a feeling that I shouldn’t do anything else much less argue with my Savior, but I did anyway, saying that I am managing people, and then He repeated “Lead”. With tears in my eyes, I grabbed Christy’s hand and told her that we have to talk. Later at lunch when I told Christy what had happened she said “well, you can’t argue with God”, and I began to investigate the next steps and those steps led me to Westby Wisconsin to be appointed to Faith and Westby.
New Hope and Retreat were added to my charge when Pastor Judie Jacobson retired and the Driftless Regional Ministry was created with the purpose to reach out to the least and the lost as Paul directs us to in Romans 10:14-15 (NLT)
14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”