New minister enjoys career change

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 13, 2004

After 16 years on the mean streets of a Columbus suburb, police officer Mike Poole decided to trade in his badge and gun for something more powerful - the Holy Bible.

The 40-year-old native of Hilliard said goodbye to the murder investigations, crack-house raids and other vices that went hand-in-hand with his law enforcement job.

"I had seen it all," he said as he recounted some of the things that he witnessed as part of the force. Poole welcomed a more relaxed life that focuses on his family and their faith.

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Recently graduated from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, the U.S. Army veteran decided to follow his heart, packed up his family and last month accepted the position as the new pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church on Sixth and Center streets in Ironton.

"I felt called to the ministry for the past 25 years. I probably spent the past 20 years running away from it," Poole said. "I decided to stop wrestling with God and go back to school and attend seminary."

Poole has been married to his wife Leslie for 16 years. They have two sons Sean, 10, and Chris, 19.

"My wife and kids and I have been in Columbus all our lives. It is nice to come to rural America," he said. "It is a slower life."

It may be slower, but Poole had to hit the ground running on a project that could help more than 300 local families. St. Paul is teaming with All Saints Lutheran Church from Worthington, Ohio, for a back-to-school giveaway from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 21 at the church.

They will be giving away clothes for children in grades K-12, as well as some school supplies and hygiene kits. Free lunch will be provided and Poole emphasized that the program is for anyone in need.

"People don't have to bring anything with them," he said. "We will not ask them any questions other than what sizes do they need."

Emphasizing that he is thoroughly enjoying his new occupation since giving up his law enforcement duties, Poole said he may look to make a return of sorts.

"Part of my passion is to be a police chaplain," he said, indicating that he would be willing to do the work as a volunteer. "The police department is in people's lives the instant they are in crisis. It really allows a chance for ministering."