Church life is a family affair for the Klings

Published 6:39 pm Friday, September 30, 2016


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First Presbyterian Church of Bainbridge has welcomed a new pastor, Rev. Dr. Karl Kling and his wife Susan, to lead their congregation. His official services began on September 16.

Although he has served churches in such cities as Sarasota, Florida, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma City and Birmingham, Alabama, and lived in the cities of Austin, Texas, Pasadena, Calif. and Philadelphia, while obtaining his extensive schooling, he and his wife are making a quick and painless transition to their new home in Bainbridge.

He professes to have loved living in different regions of the country, where each has its own local spirit. But, as both were raised in small towns, they are feeling right at home in Bainbridge, enjoying getting acquainted and involved in the life of the church and the community.  He is pleased to see so many members of the congregation who are greatly involved in the community.

Dr. Kling is a self-described enthusiast of all sports, both high school and college. So he has latched right on to the Bearcat spirit. He and his wife, decked out in their purple cat shirts, attended their first BHS football game last Friday night against Dothan.

He reported he enjoyed the game, although he was sorry they lost. He loves to talk sports, and displays a vast knowledge of teams, players and coaches, past and present.

Dr. Kling comes for a long line of pastors. He is the fifth generation to become a minister. His great-great-grandfather was a Mennonite in the 1850’s, and worked as a gunsmith. His great-grandfather was a German Lutheran who pastored in Wisconsin. His grandfather went with a missionary team in the 1920’s to W. Central Brazil where they built and ran a school. Kling’s mother was born there, and when she came to the United States at age 14, she spoke Portuguese. She was attending Oberlin College in Ohio when she met his father. The pastoral line doesn’t stop there.

Going on to the sixth generation, one of his two sons, David, was recently ordained a Presbyterian minister and is serving a church in Huntsville, Alabama, where he resides with his wife Alison, also an ordained pastor.

A second son, Michael, took a different route. He is an electrical engineer and his wife Samantha teaches kindergarten. However, both are very active in the music program of their church in the St. Petersburg, Florida area.

Music has always been a theme in the spiritual life of the Klings. His wife has been singing in church choirs from an early age and his sons both played brass instruments in their high school bands.

Getting acquainted with Dr. Kling, one soon realizes he has very diverse interests that relate well to others.  “What I care most about is being able to make a personal touch, to be able to reach out and touch people’s lives. The Gospel is all about relationships, not rules.” He declares.

One of his methods for reaching out, in addition to his Sunday sermon, is to present a brief, inspiring message of hope during the morning worship. He calls it “90 Seconds of Good News.” He often uses a prop to illustrate his message. One example is a metal detector. He said he has watched people go over the ground with metal detectors seeking something precious. “Every Day God has treasures to discover if we only open our eyes to discover God’s treasure for us.”

He believes the 90 second message fits with today’s rapid paced living in a technological world where people grasp information quickly and move on to something else. “The worst thing is to be bored in church,” he adds.

Kling is a graduate of Austin Seminary in Texas, Fuller Seminary in Los Angeles and the Wharton School of Business.

The heart of his ministry is sharing with his church members, friends, neighbors and community the good news that Jesus Christ offers every day in every stage of life—reaching people where they are right now