New Hillside pastor seeks transformation

Christian development, trans-formation and relating the Scriptures to life are what are important to Hillside Fellowship Pastor Matt Coleman.

“I’m a person that is relational,” he said. “I like to interact with people, ask questions. What’s really important to me is life transformation, development, becoming the person God wants you to become.”

To do that requires the application of God’s Word to real life, he said, “connecting the Bible with life and making it relevant.”

Among his favorite Scriptures is Jer. 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

The verse speaks volumes that God is interested in individual lives, “who we are, that we have a purpose in life,” Coleman said. “It may not always be fun or enjoyable.”

But it goes back to the Christian transformation, he said. He likens that relationship to God to a parent who wants his child to become a mature adult, for people to become who He wants them to be.

Coleman is the new pastor at Hillside Fellowship. He succeeds Dick Hill, who retired in June after some 16 years at Hillside.

Coleman grew up in Salem, graduating from Salem Academy, a Christian school, in 1990. He attended Chemeketa Community College. He lived in Salem until age 21.

He became interested in ministry and went on a Youth With a Mission trip to Australia for seven months.

He later attended Simpson University, a Bible college in Redding, Calif., and earned his bachelor’s degree general ministry,

including pastoral and youth ministries, Christian education and missions emphases.

He met his wife, Susan, while attending Simpson, he said.

“We’ve been all over the country.”

He served as a youth pastor in Tucson, Ariz., and then went to New Jersey and New York to attend graduate school. He served as a pastor there. He is continuing his master’s degree studies in intercultural studies.

He was ordained with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 2006.

“We were actually in the process of becoming missionaries in France with the CMA,” Coleman said. “As we continued down that road, the doors closed two years ago.”

With the value of the Euro growing compared to the dollar and prices rising, a French mission was becoming cost-prohibitive.

“We were getting back to Salem to pack up and say our goodbyes and raising support,” he said, and decided God was saying He wanted the Colemans to remain in Oregon.

They have three children, Emily, 12; Anna, 8; and Nathaniel, 5.

“We had moved around so many times in a short period of their lives, we really needed a stable place for them,” Coleman said. He took a job in construction, while trying to figure out what to do next.

Susan Coleman’s Aunt Paula and Uncle Mike Reynolds told them their pastor was retiring and asked if they would be interested in the church.

“The last two years of our life have been uncertain,” Matt Coleman said. “I’m open to anything God wants us to do.”

They came to Sweet Home quickly, talked to the board and pursued the position.

Coleman took over the church at the beginning of July. This is the first time he has served as a head pastor. He has been a youth pastor, college pastor and assistant pastor before.

“I really like the town,” he said. “There’s more here than I anticipated. It’s a homey place. I love this hill, this atmosphere, just the beauty. I love the church here. They’re really nice €“ servants.”

He enjoys outdoor activities and sports, including hiking, mountain biking and disc (or Frisbee) golf, he said. He also enjoys spending time with his children.

Hillside Fellowship holds a weekly service at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Sunday School runs throughout the school year at 9:30 on Sunday. Kid’s Club runs from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

For more information about Hillside Fellowship, located at 501 Nandina St., call 367-5364.