I’m Eric Elkin, an unordinary pastor who helps ordinary people discover spiritual meaning in life. The Ordinary Voices podcast invites conversations to explore questions about life and faith. Then in reflection upon these questions, help you discover spiritual renewal and hope.
Ordinary Voices is built upon the idea there is no one right way to approach faith. But, it’s in the conversation between different approaches where great understanding and community are discovered.
Creating a COMMUNITY of people hungry for spiritual meaning.
We all crave community because it provides a sense of security, hope and belonging. Community has a variety of forms and can be experienced in a variety of ways.
The internet provides a unique type of community. Through it, we can connect intimately with people we don’t even know. We are able to connect with strangers when we discover a common experience in life.
My wife, Peggy, and I spent the first 7 years of our marriage living in an intentional Christian community. It wasn’t a community of spiritually mature people. It was a community of fragmented souls looking for belonging, hope, and acceptance. Through our life together, we all discovered that Christ is most visible in community.
This time remains the most foundational experience of our life. It was a 7-year study in community, human communication, problem solving, reconciliation, forgiveness and living spiritually through some very difficult times. We found inspiration in the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Henri Nouwen, because in community their words came to life.
“Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”
CONVERSATIONS to discover your spiritual needs
A mentor once told me I needed to know the difference between what people want and what they need. People often tell you what they want, but to know their needs requires a deeper conversation. Your desire may be peace, but only a conversation about your life will identify the things preventing you from discovering peace.
This is exactly what I hope to accomplish through Ordinary Voices. In listening to ordinary people I might be able to help you discover your spiritual needs so that you might find what you want most in life.
The idea for Ordinary Voices was actually forged in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Peggy and I went to serve as youth and hospitality directors at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sunset Park. It was a church founded by Norwegian immigrants at a time when Brooklyn had more Norwegian residents than Olso. But the neighborhood around Trinity changed. The Norwegians were replaced by Puerto Rican and Dominican families new to the neighborhood.
Our job was to help the congregation grow its presence in this changing neighborhood. We did this through conversations. We interviewed community leaders in the neighborhood – teachers, coaches, police officers, social workers, store owners, pastors and other youth workers. Then every evening, we walked up and down the streets talking to families sitting on their stoop.
As a result of those conversations we learned the needs of the neighborhood. We stopped holding VBS and developed an 8-week summer day camp program. The families needed supervision, not spiritual education. However, meeting the childcare needs provided a new opportunity for spiritual growth. The children needed after school supervision and homework help. So, instead of a youth group, we started an after-school program. In listening to the needs we were able to provide hope in life.
My journey has included a wide variety of experiences in different places. It includes Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Iowa. I’ve worked with children, parents, young adults, retired adults and nursing homes residents. It includes working with teachers, corporate executives, fireman, police officers, community organizers, farmers, pastors, priests, and small business owners.
I’ve served rural, urban, suburban communities. My experiences have also crossed over racial, social and economic lines. From theses experiences I feel I can bring an insight that is less likely to be defined by a single demographic or denomination.
Today, I live in Newport, MN with my wife, Peggy. We have two children, Britta (25) and Peter (23). We have a passion for the wilderness and the city. I love to be engaged with people, but I also deeply enjoy the peace of solitude. My hobbies include photography, hiking, biking, and non-professional personal home improvement.
Thomas W. Harvey High School, Painesville, Ohio
Concordia College, Moorhead, MN BA Major: English and Communications with an emphasis in Writing
Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA MDIV Ordained in 1997