A lot of people enjoy talking about their achievements. Recognition of hard work or at least acknowledgment that good work is being done is usually desired by a lot of people.
Dan Thoemke is not like most.
As director of Community Faith In Action, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the facilitation of collaborative work with most of Golden’s churches known as the Together Church of Golden, Thoemke is a catalyst in church partnership, and community development.
Although he also works as a community pastor at Hillside Community Church, along with being a chaplain for the Golden Police Department, Thoemke would rather discuss the need for volunteers for the annual Neighborhood Rehab Project Day of Service on Sept. 7 than discuss any recognition for his work in the city of Golden.
“Based on project load we’re going to need 200 volunteers,” said Thoemke. “It’s all really easy for people to register there at beatool.org, and that’s at the bottom of that card,” he said while pointing to an advertisement for the 3rd annual Neighborhood Rehab Project.
NRP Day of Service will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. with a celebration in Parfet Park with meals, drinks and prizes. Volunteers will meet in the morning at Hillside Community Church at 103 N. Ford St. for introductions and discussion, and then head out to begin working on various projects that help Golden residents who are struggling with home repairs.
But what about Dan Thoemke?
His name continues to pop up from time to time in Golden. Aside from his many duties around town, he co-directs City Unite, an organization that helps to mentor other religious leaders in the Denver metro area about the importance of collaboration with churches of different denominations.
Respectfully, Thoemke is a humble man who refuses to take any credit for any one community project, or any one idea. He always uses “we” and “our” when discussing the charitable work he has been a part of.
“It really has so little to do with me I just facilitate in an amazing community that just has the heart to make it better,” he said.
He is frank about his personal life and touched on his education starting from Golden High School, where he met and later married his high school sweetheart. He has four children — two girls and two boys. He graduated from IMI Bible College and Seminary in California with a focus in pastoral care, and then moved to Oregon where he stayed to pastor before moving back to Colorado around 13 years ago.
What really gets Dan talking though are community service efforts and what inspired him to occasionally pastor and focus more as a collaborator for the Together Church of Golden through Community Faith In Action.
“Ever since I began my faith journey I always saw and read in the scriptures what Jesus did and he was really into helping the poor, and just caring for people,” said Thoemke. “He spent very little time in the religious community.”
Thoemke went on to add that most of the struggles Jesus had with the religious community was challenging them to live up to what they preach. Thoemke wanted to be the example of living what you preach, and as a pastor wanting to transition into the cities, trying to be that example was tough.
“At that point I wrestled wearing both hats for years, and finally gave up the hat of being in the church all the time and just moved into the city,” said Thoemke. “That’s when I started this organization and began to really connect and build relationships,” he said.
Thoemke’s close friend and colleague, Kevin Shive, associate pastor and lead chaplain of Golden Police Department, remembers Thoemke as the new guy at Hillside Community Church who walked down to the river and pulled people out from under the bridges and brought them to the church. “I still remember,” said Shive while smiling. “He always was able to attract people that, sometimes, a lot of folks are afraid of,” he said.
Shive agrees Thoemke isn’t the sole person who has orchestrated and accomplished community service events entirely on his own, but he is a force that brings churches together and its through him that weekly prayer is being organized, and quarterly meetings are promoted for Golden’s churches to come together and discuss how they can be more effective in the community
“I don’t think any one thing that’s been done has been because of him,” said Shive. “But he is a main source of energy,” he said. “He deserves a lot of credit, he works hard.”
Bethany Thomas at Calvary Episcopal Church has been a pastor for outreach and care for 25 years. Before Thoemke, she too was working in the community, and striving to find better methods for community outreach and development. Since Thoemke’s return to Golden, they have worked closely to fulfill their shared vision.
“We just have a heart for community transformation and bringing about change that contributes to the well-being of the community in a variety of ways,” said Thomas. “It’s just wonderful to work with Dan because he has such a heart for that,” she said. “Dan has done so much with helping to make sure a lot of the hands-on details are addressed.”
Her first impression of Thoemke is best described in Thomas’s own words, “A Godly man with a heart for the community.”
As Thoemke was quoted earlier, anyone interested in volunteering for NRP Day of Service, or for anyone in need of assistance with home repair, information can be found at www.beatool.org. There are 40 to 60 projects anticipated this year, and participants who register on or before Aug. 31 will receive a free “Be A Tool” T-shirt. Sack lunches will be provided at work sites on the day of service.
For more information on Community Faith In Action, its collaboration with churches, businesses, and government entities, or to get involved call 303 523-0378, or visit www.communityfaithinaction.org.