Church honors reverend who touched many lives

When a person has profound and positive impacts on lives of others, those people tend to thank that person. That is what happened on Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Marshalltown when hundreds of people arrived for a Celebration of Ministry honoring Rev. Richard King.

King retired from the ministry in November after suffering a series of strokes for unknown reasons. While the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. tries to figure it out, he and his wife, Valerie, wait and try to figure out the future.

“I can’t see out of my right eye,” he said. “I can’t do normal things.”

Valerie said they are discussing using their home for hospitality ministry.

“We would like to offer our home to house missionaries,” she said. “We designed the house to do that.”

Welcoming missionaries and outside organizations into Marshalltown and helping people in general is nothing new to King. After the 2018 tornado struck, he was key to opening the church to those in need. For weeks following, every single night, church members offered free home-cooked meals to anyone who needed it. The church opened showers to whoever was in need of cleansing.

Valerie said King ensured the church was ready to respond and help in any way. Michelle Wilkinson, the children’s ministry director at First Presbyterian said King wanted to open the church to the community. The response was remarkable.

“We had help from across the state – food and volunteers,” she said. “Rich even had the vision to transform parts of this building for the mission groups that came in. We had a construction project specifically to add showers. He has a ministry of hospitality. That is what he is known for, and for his ability to communicate with people from all walks of life.”

Two of those people whose lives were touched by King’s communication were Eric and Tressa Voss. The words they used to describe King included “love,” “selfless,” “patient” and “serenity.”

King married them in 2007. Amidst a move to Perry shortly afterward, and moving back to Marshalltown in 2012, their lives were consumed with drug and alcohol use.

“Our lives were wrapped up in it and the destruction it caused,” Eric said. “Rich showed us Christ’s love for us. There was no judgment in him. He walked with us through the turmoil of our lives.”

After the husband and wife received treatment in 2017 and maintained 30 days of sobriety, they decided moving to Charles City would be the best thing. However, they did not have the money to do so. King made sure they had help and the financial means to make the move. Since then, they have stayed sober and Eric is involved full-time in ministry while attending seminary school.

“Because of the love Rich showed us, we launched an addiction recovery program in Charles City,” Eric said. “It all started with Rich and his willingness to walk through somebody else’s mess. If it was not for Rich and his wife, Valerie, we would not be healthy, and we can now touch lives because he touched ours.”

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.


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