Napavine Man Seeks to Continue Service in Community and Church Through New Role as Pastor of Toledo Church

Separation: Frank Corbin, Who Applied for Commissioner Position, Says There’s No Reason a Christian Can’t be as Involved in Government as Non-Christian 

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The new pastor at Toledo New Life Assembly of God Church, Frank Corbin, has a Staples “easy button” on his new desk in the church office — a room adorned with wild animal wallpaper and a vase of peacock feathers — but that doesn’t mean he’s setting easily attainable goals for his new position. 

He’s only been the preacher for one Sunday and “the energy is there,” he said. He will soon aim to shepherd in a new era for the church. One of growth, service to youth, service to the community and, as he said: “I would like to see all the churches (in Toledo) locking arms, working together to help meet needs in the city.” 

Corbin, 62, of the Napavine area, was hired as pastor two weeks ago. 

A U.S. Navy veteran with a long history of community service including the Lewis County Planning Commission and formerly the Lewis County Seniors board, he said, “My resume would be 32 pages long.”

He has lived in Lewis County for less than five years, yet considers it his home. Growing up in Cathlamet, Corbin attended a Christian youth camp at Mayfield Lake, which is where he first had a vision of his call to become a minister. 

Before nearly following a promotion to Washington, D.C., Corbin’s mother grew ill and he moved to Napavine to be closer to her. She died just over one year ago. It wasn’t until after his move that he realized he was back in the county where he first made the choice to live a life of Christian faith.

He’s done his “bit for God and country,” he said, in a variety of ways both secular and religious. While working as a pastor in Cascade Locks, Oregon, he also served on the city council there. 

Corbin spoke with The Chronicle at length about his service in churches and in communities, saying at times the two require compartmentalization to maintain separation of church and state. Whereas at other times, issues blend and the two entities can support one another. 

Homelessness in the county, he said, is one of those issues where lines blur. He believes Toledo New Life Assembly of God Church could find ways to assist people who are homeless through various ministries. Likewise, it is an issue he seeks to address in his work with the county while working on the Veterans Advisory Board. 

Though, one issue where he maintains the separation of his faith and his politics is with borders.

“Our society right now, we are more fractured and divided than we ever have been. And I think that one of the messages of the gospel is that we should be reconcilers, bringing people together, building bridges,” he said. “Although I'm not against building walls, you know, our country’s building walls to protect the borders. But I am very disheartened when it comes to building walls between people.”

The country, he believes, has had times of high and low spiritually. Since the 1960s, it’s been dipping into a period of less Christianity. But he tries not to get wrapped up in that issue: His priority instead is to focus on preaching the gospel and making disciples of Jesus, he said. 

“Because we're halfway between Portland and Seattle, in what's typically referred to as a conservative county in a sea of liberalism, (it) makes us also very unique,” Corbin said of Lewis County. “But on the other hand we can't preach a conservative or a liberal gospel. The gospel is the gospel, and it's relevant to all people.”

Also in his office are two hats that read “Make Toledo Holy Again” in the style of former President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan hats. The city does have six churches, possibly making it the holiest on the list of Lewis County communities, if that could be measured by church-to-resident ratios alone. 

Chuckling when asked about the hats, which he said were created by the previous pastor, Corbin said he does believe the message is sound regardless.

“You could have 800 churches, and it could still stand improvement. I mean, as long as there's people involved, there's going to be sin, there's going to be deficiencies, there's going to be inadequacies … we could all strive to be better Christians, to be better people,” he said.

Possible County Commissioner Bid Still In Sights

This is not the first time in the last few months Frank Corbin has made the news. When Lewis County Commissioner Gary Stamper died after a five-week battle with COVID-19 in September, Corbin was one of the East Lewis County Republicans to step up to potentially fill the position.

“I had a lot of people asking me, ‘Frank, you have served in so many different ways, there's probably nobody that knows about the job better than you do.’ I said, Well, now, that may be true, but anyway, long story short, a lot of people were asking me to consider. And so I threw my hat in the ring,” he said. 

He was one vote shy of making the cut for the three party nominations sent to the Board of County Commissioners for the seat. Lee Grose was the board’s chosen nomination, and Grose has previously stated he would not run for the position again in the fall of 2022.

When asked if he plans on running in the next election, Corbin said it was a possibility. 

“I thought, why shouldn't a Christian be just as involved as a non-Christian?” Corbin said.

“Should that even be an issue in America? When we had founding fathers who were ministers, who were first members of Congress, signers of the Declaration of Independence? I mean, what disqualifies me from public service because I happen to be a person of faith?” 

He and Stamper were friends and the two had many talks about East Lewis County communities, Corbin said, also noting that the former commissioner took him on trips out to Packwood.  

“I'm not saying that I was his golden pick or something. He spent a lot of time with a lot of good people, and I was just honored to be a part of that, of who he was,” he said. 

When he was hired in his new pastoral position, he told his church’s board about his involvement with the county and his potential to run for the seat. He recognized, though, that campaigning is a full-time job, so he’d have to work very hard to balance that with his new position. 

Corbin said Commissioner Lindsey Pollock continues to manage her business, saying his situation would not be so different from that, as long as the church remained OK with it.