First person: Former Cannon chaplain returns to area

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Gary Piepkorn served 37 years in the Air Force, Navy Reserves, Coast Guard Reserves and active duty.

Pastor Gary Piepkorn was a chaplain at Cannon Air Force Base when the Faith in Christ Lutheran Church in Portales opened.

Piepkorn was transferred from Cannon and after several years, retired from the service at Onizuka Air Station in California.

Around the time he retired, Faith in Christ Lutheran Church needed a pastor and they remembered Piepkorn and called on him to fill their need.

Blessings for the commission: I say the prayer before each Roosevelt County Commission meeting. I like it, it keeps me apprised of what’s going on in the county. I live in the county and not in the city, so it’s pretty interesting.

Home life: I’ve been married for 43 years. We have four kids, one of whom is adopted. We adopted our daughter from Korea. After our first child, it didn’t seem we could have anymore and we had always talked about adopting and giving a child in need a home. And then we were blessed with two more children. We also have 11 grandchildren. My wife and I run a bed and breakfast out of our home. The house had an extra building and we didn’t really know what to do with it and a friend suggested we start a bed and breakfast, so we did. And my wife is an excellent cook. She likes to cook for people.

Military man: I spent 37 years in the military. I spent 12 years in the Air Force, 12 in the Coast Guard Reserves, three and a half active duty in the Coast Guard and two and a half years in the Navy Reserves. I couldn’t make a decision. I enjoyed my time in the Air Force immensely. As a chaplain, it’s exciting to bring God’s word to people and help their apply it to their lives and to see lives changed.

Travel fun: In the Air Force, I got to travel a lot. I spent time in Norway, England, Korea, Honduras, Bahrain, Oman and South Africa. We had a great time in Norway. We were part of a small chapel community that served a NATO compound. We left Norway with two sets of skis; one for cross country and one for downhill.

Man with many hats: I have many jobs as a pastor and in the larger church body. One of my jobs is the dispute resolution panel facilitator. What I do is sit at the head of a panel that resolves disputes in the church. One of the sad parts of sinful mankind is that men fight. Church brings together people of different backgrounds and throws them into a fair amount of intimacy. It’s not a surprise that there are problems.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Liliana Castillo