Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“I do and I ask God to help and guide me!” I have never spoken words more sincerely from the heart than these words I spoke on Saturday, October 31,2020 as I was being installed as Dean of the Mid-Northeast Mission District. It has been my pleasure to serve as the treasurer of the mission district for the past five years and also as secretary for the past year, and I would have been comfortable continuing to serve in those positions. However, God apparently had other plans and has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone as I was nominated, elected and called to be your next Dean. I know I have big shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively, following Dean Reisen, Dean Towberman and Dean Johnson. I served under all these wonderful and capable Deans and know the only way I can measure up to them is with the help of God.
Many of you have seen me over the years throughout the mission district in various ways; as a pastor, a member of the mission district council, an assistant to the Dean, as coordinator of youth activities and as camp director, but let me introduce myself. I was born and raised in Somerset County on a large dairy farm. My maiden name was Shaffer, hence my German Lutheran roots. I married my high school sweetheart, Larry Cogan in August of 1974, yes, I have been married for 46 years. We are the proud parents of three daughters and one son and have been blessed with eight grandchildren.
I felt a call from God when I was fourteen years old but had no idea what that meant at that time. I have always been involved in my church and I was very involved (prior to 2009) in the Allegheny Synod. Larry and I have always been involved in agriculture. In his younger days Larry worked for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and then in 1984 we purchased a large greenhouse and floral business near Somerset. In 1999 I attended classes offered by the Allegheny Synod to be a Lay Worship Leader and then attended Gettysburg Seminary in a program to be authorized as a youth minister. I started my seminary studies in 2005. While doing my seminary studies I served a small congregation in the outskirts of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Dunmyer Lutheran, and received a call to continue serving them when I was ordained in 2009. Dunmyer was one of the original churches of the NALC. When St Thomas Lutheran joined the NALC in 2011, their pastor stayed with the ELCA so Dunmyer graciously extended help to St Thomas by offering to have me serve them until they could call a new pastor. Ten months later I was installed as that called pastor. St Thomas Evangelical Lutheran is a rural congregation in northeast Somerset County, surrounded by farmland and is also the home of the location of our In-Tents Camps.
In 2018 Larry and I bought a small farm north of Somerset and we raise sheep and pigs and make hay. My passions are first – GOD, second – family and third – farming.
So, what has been happening since I became Dean:
The Mission District Council has approved the district having four conferences, overlooked by Assistants to the Dean, which are; Rev. Joyce Dix-Weiers, Rev. Mathew Magera, Rev. Susan Fox and Rev. Ray Short.
Rebecka Fronts, our Executive Administrator, will be sending out an update directory on clergy shortly.
We are starting the ground work to organize a mission start in the Cranberry area. So hopefully this project can get off the ground when the pandemic is over.
Some dates to keep in mind for the mission district for 2021:
May 4,5,& 6 – NALC’s Pastor Conference in San Antonio.
June 10 & 11 – Mid-Northeast Mission District’s Pastor’s
Retreat in conjunction with the Ancient Evangelical Future
Conference at Trinity School of Ministry.
August 2-6, Lutheran Week in Corpus Christi, TX
October 30, Mid-Northeast Mission District annual convocation at St. Paul Lutheran, Sarver, Pa
There are many events that are in limbo because of the virus. These include our Chrism Mass, possibly the Bible Bowl, and also In-Tents Elementary and Youth Camp.
Lastly thank you for keeping all those who have been on our prayer list for healing in your prayers. I especially thank you all for the prayers, thoughts and concerns while I battled coronavirus and pneumonia for five weeks.
I ask for all of you to keep me in your prayers weekly as I start this new adventure with you. I will continue to pray for God to help and guide me.
Blessings as we serve our Lord and Savior,
Pastor Nila Cogan, Dean of the Mid-Northeast Mission District and pastor of St. Thomas Lutheran Church