It’s Sunday morning at the LTD Station. The sky is grey, a few busses rumble in and out. People with tired faces get on and off their buses, going their various ways. Leaves and trash dot the pavement. It’s pleasantly quiet.
“Good morning!” he says to the driver, walking up into the waiting bus. Wearing a red sweater and a smile, he takes a seat, black Bible and hymnal on his lap.
“It’s a beautiful day today,” he says. “I’m going to go serve the Lord, and this community in Christ.”
Every Sunday, no matter the weather, he’s here at this stop, Bible in hand. He doesn’t like riding the bus, because “it’s usually late,” but he doesn’t have a car so the bus is his only option.
The driver isn’t the only one to get a greeting. Everyone sitting on the bus gets a smile and a “good morning” or a “how’s your day going?” He notices a broken vent in the back of the bus, and alerts the driver before the bus leaves. “Didn’t want anyone to get hit by that,” he laughs.
This is Paul Fleck. He’s on his way to church at the Willamette Christian Center. Paul, 21, is a student at New Hope Christian College and hopes to be a minister one day. “I want to help people,” he says. “Help people find God in their lives, and just help them.” After going to Lane Community College for two years, he transferred to New Hope for degrees in theology and music.
Music is a giant part of Fleck’s life. “I’ve sung in so many choirs,” he says. “In high school… Oregon Childrens’ Choir, and now one at my college.” He’s done a plethora of productions and shows, from high school to performing with the Eugene Opera.
At one bus stop, some friends of Fleck’s get on the bus, heading to the church. “Good morning,” he says. “How are you guys doing this morning?” Throughout the entire bus ride, Fleck laughs and chats with the woman and her young son. “Don’t you look snappy today?” he says to Ryan. “Did you watch the Duck game last night?” Fleck is a big-time Duck fan. “I have season tickets, that’s how devoted I am to the Ducks.”
Once he gets to the church, it’s all the same. These are his people. He knows and loves them, they know and love him. He shakes the pastor’s hand, he stops to ask college student Brooke Larson about her new boyfriend.
“Paul is incredible,” says Larson. “He’s just so nice,” and he’ll “always find something to talk to you about.” Larson has known Fleck for many years, went to high school with him, and has sung in choir with him at Lane Community College. “Paul is a wonderful singer,” and he often sings during church services.
Once the service starts, Fleck is one of the most spirited people in the room. As the pastor gives the sermon, Fleck sits with a notepad, writing and nodding. “I take the sermon very seriously,” he says, even though it “doesn’t always have to be serious.” When the sermon is done and the music and worship begin, he’s in another world. Eyes closed. Hands clapping with the music. Raising his arms up to the heavens. Singing along with the music. “Worship is my favorite part. I love the singing.”
Fleck is just as passionate about politics as he is about religion. “I’m disappointed by the election,” he says, chatting with other church members after the sermon. Fleck is “very pro-life,” and strongly supported Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in the election last Tuesday. “But, you know, it’ll be alright. God has a plan, and he’s going to take care of us.”