Varns is newest Hill City pastor

Gray Hughes

The Lighthouse Assembly of God in Hill City has a new pastor — Dan Varns.

Varns has several decades experience pastor and looks forward to the opportunity to be a pastor in Hill City.

“I love the Black Hills. I love Hill City,” he said. “We have a lot of good things going on here. …To be able to move to Hill City is very exciting for me. I love the town, I love the area. I’m very excited to be here again.”

Varns was elected to become the pastor of Lighthouse Assembly of God on July 26.

Varns is a Lead-Deadwood native. He attended college at Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, N.D., where he met his wife.

From there, Varns was the youth pastor at an Assembly of God church in Lead. After that, Varns went to Taylor, Neb. and then to Chamberlain and then on to Pierre.

During his time as a pastor, Varns had been doing mission work in Nicaragua. He then made a decision to go there full-time; however, Varns said that did not work out.

He came back to the states, worked briefly in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and came back to the Hills briefly before becoming the minister at a non-denominational church in Hampton, Iowa.

But, ever since he left Lead in 1998, Varns said he had been trying to get back to becoming a pastor in the Black Hills.

“Things opened up (in Hill City), and here we are,” he said. “To come to Hill City is kind of a dream come true.”

Varns said he had inklings to become a pastor as early as age 5. He said he has always loved the local church, and he has always held pastors in very high respect and esteem.

His grandma took him to Sunday school, and then as soon as he became old enough he attended regular services.

Then Varns said he had the same career ambitions of every young boy — police officer and pilot. But, at about 12 years old, he had a conversation with his grandma.

“She just said, ‘I think you have a call to the ministry.’ I knew she was right,” Varns said. “I finally yielded to what I felt like was the leading of the Lord in my life. But I have always had a sense that ministry, probably, was going to be my life. I have never been one of these people who have always wondered: what am I going to do with my life? What’s my direction? I will die probably doing ministry of some sort.”

Varns called the local church underrated, and it is underestimated in its ability to do good not only spiritually but to help in the local community, too.

On being a pastor, Varns said there’s a lot more that he likes than dislikes. His favorite part, though, is the relationships he forms as a pastor.

“Those relationships are incredibly valuable,” he said. “First of all it’s very valuable for spiritual community. I think as followers of Jesus we are called to live in spiritual community. These relationships and all the good and bad that come with it and the interaction — starting out new like this, getting to know people, hearing their stories.”

It is an incredibly high honor to be called to the ministry, Varns said, and every pastor worth his salt desires to see people have a relationship with God.

Varns said he sees Lighthouse Assembly of God as a church that is highly involved in the Hill City community and an entity that would be missed should it close its doors.

“We love our city,” Varns said. “I think, to me, that’s a great thing for a church, that we love our town. We love our city. …I’ve got the 30,000 foot view just because I am new here. But I definitely want to see people experience the love and the power of God in their lives.”

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