With contagious kindness and enthusiasm, Pastor Larry Unterseher ministers to the students and teachers at the 16 small schools scattered throughout the conference. “Our small schools are bursting with people seeking the kingdom,” he said. “It’s just so exciting!”
Since 2014, Unterseher has served as pastor to the NCC schools with fewer than four teachers. During that time, he has driven many thousands of miles to present worship talks, weeks of prayer, lessons on endangered species, and fun activities designed to help him engage with the students. Known for loudly and enthusiastically celebrating birthdays, he also sends each student a $2 bill enclosed in a birthday card, reminding the recipient that he or she is special to Jesus.
During the pandemic, Unterseher has increased his virtual presence. Many of the schools regularly participate in his weekly worship talks on Zoom. Recently, 10 schools joined a six-week online art class that he organized, taught by his daughter-in-law, Emily. Students and teachers responded so positively that Unterseher has been brainstorming ideas and surveying educators as he makes plans for future online classes.
Because many of the students come from families that are unfamiliar with any church, he speaks simply as he talks to the children about Jesus’ love and grace. “We are walking together toward the kingdom,” he said. “They won’t all become church members, but when they are 25 and making decisions, they will fall back on all the things they learned at their little school.”