More than a year after tragic accident, new pastor installed at Merrill churchSubmitted: 05/26/2019
Dan Hagen
Dan Hagen

More than a year after tragic accident, new pastor installed at Merrill church
MERRILL - When describing feelings, many can be at a loss for words, but music can harmonize to the fluid and complicated nature of emotions.

People stepping into the sanctuary of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church Sunday afternoon were met with sounds that echoed their joy and grief.

On January 12 2018, Congregational President Jacob Marheine heard there was a car accident near Rhinelander but didn't think much of it.

"That was until Pastor's wife called me that night, while I was sitting down to dinner and told me that Pastor Weiland was in a car accident," said Merheine. 

On January 22 Weiland passed away. 

"He was like a father to me," said Merheine. "So not only do we have to grieve ourselves, but then we also have to try to keep things going."

Part of keeping the Merrill church going was finding a new spiritual leader. Fifteen months after the tragic accident, a new pastor was installed Sunday.

Pastor Neal Behm said the Lord called him to serve at this church.

"Part of what happened to the previous pastor, my heart went out there to think I can come here to help serve them, and help comfort them, and to lead them," said Behm.

He will lead the only way he can. 

"I won't fill his shoes," said Behm. "I can't be who he is, I can only be who I am. I'm here to serve as best as I can, but I want the people to remember him."

The congregation at Christ Lutheran Church will not have another pastor like James Weiland. And when one song ends, another begins.

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