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American River Messenger

Former Pastor Digs the Dirt

Feb 03, 2021 12:00AM ● By Story and Photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Former Pastor hits the pasture. Retired American River Community Church Minister Rich Reimer's new calling is contracting.

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CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Retirement can lay as heavily on the hands of clergy as laymen. When American River Community Church Pastor Rich Reimer hung up his cassock last year, he thought he and his wife would jump in a camper and see America. Instead, he’s jumped on a tractor and is seeing land from the soil up.

“God gave me two skills,” considers the 66-year-old. “One was for the Church. The other is working with my hands.” During 39 years of ministering, the Pastor was also handyman for his flock. “Running a church is like having another house,” he considers. “I’ve always been involved in maintenance. Even when I had volunteers, I worked with them. I must have put on 10 roofs. I’ve mended leaks, installed irrigation and sound systems. I was usually the only man on campus so, when toilets ran over, I was the man they called.” If pounding nails seems incongruous with preaching, Reimer is quick to note that Jesus was a carpenter. “Another thing I enjoyed was driving the tractor we borrowed for harvest festival hayrides,” he says. “When I retired, my wife Cindy gave me her blessing to get my own tractor. Some wives will do anything to get a husband out of the house.”

His shiny red vehicle is a 32-hp Mahindra, with front-end loader. Driver and beast have tackled stump removal, graded parking lots, levelled lawns and dug post holes.  “Two words that describe my life’s mission are loving service,” enthuses the contractor.  “I pride myself on serving the church. Now my service is hands-on.”

“I’d always wanted to occupy myself meaningfully after retiring. My son Jonathan saw this tractor advertised at a good price last year. Its attachments included a rotor tiller, a scraper and a back hoe. I thought yeah, I could do good work with all that. We drove to Redding to look at it. It was like brand-new, with only 100 hours on the meter. The 84-year-old owner was a Christian. His wife had recently died and his own health was declining. When we closed the deal, he led us in prayer for my future business. Less than two months later, he died of COVID. I felt sad but privileged -- his prayer seemed like a confirmation of what God would have me do.”

Prayers aside, operating licenses are ordained by a Sheriff’s background check. “There’s no dispensation for being a pastor,” Reimer laughs. “You may live by the Ten Commandments but the County has its own rules. I got my licenses and went to work. My first job was mowing three acres of pasture in Newcastle. It felt great to be outdoors under a clear blue sky. I’d given a final sermon called “Stepping into a New Day.” I felt I’d taken my first step.

“I don’t want to be busy every day. It’s a part-time job -- my wife and I watch grandkids two days a week – the important thing is to do a good job. I don’t mention being a pastor to my clients -- unless the subject arises -- but before every job, I pray for safety. Tractors can be dangerous. Once I uprooted a big stump: it fell from the bucket and left a crack in the tractor hood. It might have cracked my head. I sure said a prayer after that.” His days of donning jacket for weekdays and preaching robes Sunday are done. “It feels different heading out in jeans, a work shirt and steel-toed boots,” he says. “But for any profession, you dress the part.” 

Gone also, is the collection plate. Tractor For Hire rates are competitive with other operators. Pastor and tractor nevertheless pitch in gratis for the church where he ministered for almost a quarter of a century. “There’s always something to be done in our community garden,” he explains. “Donating and volunteering are part of being a Church member.  “It’s fulfilling that God gave me gifts to use in the community and for the church.”

To contact Reimer’s Tractor For Hire Call or text 916 502 7928.