Tom Reazin is the new minister at East Side United Methodist church, having started July 1.
Reazin said it has been a long journey from when he first felt called into the ministry at age 19 to his current position with the church.
Reazin said he grew up near Lyons and when he told his pastor he felt called to both ministry and law enforcement, he was told he didn't have to preach on Sundays to be a minister.
Joining the Rice County Sheriff's Department in 2003 and moving to the Pratt County Sheriff's Department in 2005, Reazin served as an officer until 2010. In law enforcement, Reazin said he enjoyed being able to meet people in small towns and getting to hear about their concerns.
"Within thirty seconds, people are going to (decide) whether they're going to trust you or not. That's true if you're wearing a badge or standing up in front of a church," Reazin said.
Reazin brought his faith to work and led Bible studies for both the sheriff and police departments in Pratt. The time together fostered an improvement in the relationships between departments, and Reazin said the administration came to join the officers in the study as time went on.
Reazin said he made the choice to leave law enforcement and go to work for a seed dealership in western Rice County when his daughter, Kaci, who had lissencephaly, needed increased medical care.
"Kaci wasn't supposed to live to two; we had nine years," Reazin said. "In 2010, (Kaci's) medical needs were so great that being full-time law enforcement — it wasn't fair to my wife and my children that I was gone all night and called out at times and it wasn't fair to the guys that, when I had to be in the hospital with Kaci, they had to cover — give up vacation (and) days off. It all worked out. In (God's) plan, it always does. I was able to spend a lot more time at home and be involved in Kaci's care. It allowed me to be able to coach and have a set schedule with my son, so that worked out a lot better."
Kaci died in 2015 at the age of 9. Reazin said when his daughter was on life support in the hospital, people were surprised that he was able to walk away from her to get food or take care of other matters.
"It's not that we didn't care; people could evidently see how much love and how much care there was in the family, but we had faith that things were going to be worked out, in one manner or the other, through (God's) will and that we would be able to be okay at the end of the day," Reazin said.
Reazin stills lives near Lyons with his wife, Brandi, and son, Troy, and drives 60 miles to Newton to be at East Side United Methodist.
"When you're used to driving three and a half hours to Children's Mercy in Kansas City, 60 miles really isn't anything," Reazin said. "It's not a bad commute. I try to be down here at least twice a week."
Reazin said people that knew him growing up would be surprised at his decision to stand in front of a group to speak.
"I like being in my spreader, driving back and forth in the field. Talking to new people is not something I'm comfortable with but I've learned to get over it," Reazin said. "I've always been to church so I could be fed and strengthened, that's what I hope we can offer to others."
The church draws its membership from a wide area, Reazin noted. Families come from Marion, McPherson, Halstead and Wichita — some because they have attended East Side United Methodist since they were young, others because they found they were comfortable there.
"I hope to continue to grow not only the community we have...to strengthen them in the kingdom and in their seeking of God, but to go out and find people that are seeking," Reazin said. "Over the years, being in children's hospitals, we've been able to talk to people at some of the lowest points in their lives and been able to share what our faith has done for us and how that holds us up. "
East Side United Methodist (1520 E. Broadway St., Newton) holds Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and a worship service at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. For more information, call (316) 283-6446.