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Bill’s Bakery

Homemade goods help Iowa pastor connect with the community.

In just over a year as lead pastor at Council Bluffs First Assembly of God, Bill Hartman has established a reputation as “the doughnut guy.”

Through his 5-year-old side hobby called “Bill’s Bakery,” Hartman has become well-known not only for the made-from-scratch baked goods he brings to church functions, but also for those he distributes gratis within the community.

Hartman has provided doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and other baked goods to first responders, businesses, and organizations, allowing him to bless others while becoming a familiar face within the community.

“I’m just using the gift God has given me,” Hartman says. “I never dreamed it would open up the doors that it has.”

Hartman and his wife, Linda, came full circle to pastor in the western Iowa city of 62,600. Hartman sensed a call to ministry while managing a Village Inn and attending the same Council Bluffs church in the 1980s. He and Linda left for Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, North Dakota, in 1984.

During their college years, the Hartmans took jobs at Fran’s Bakery, where they learned to make a variety of tasty items such as doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, and long johns from scratch.

Hartman graduated from Trinity in 1988. He pastored in Keokuk and Des Moines, Iowa; Lisbon, North Dakota; and Arlington, Washington, before becoming lead pastor in Council Bluffs in February 2016.

Hartman fell back into the baking groove five years ago when, while pastoring in Arlington, he purchased a 20-quart mixer and the church bought him a tabletop fryer.

Since moving to Council Bluffs, Hartman has made dozens of doughnuts for the local fire and police departments, as well as local businesses, neighborhood block parties, and statewide events for the Iowa Ministry Network. Other times, he simply takes a dozen or two around the community to see where God leads him.  

Children’s pastor Sheri Kasper says along with making the church more visible, Hartman’s leadership has energized congregants to reach out themselves, spurring an influx of volunteers.

“Watching our pastor spend his time and his gift – working through the night making doughnuts and serving the community – sets the tone,” Kasper says. “It has really prompted the congregation to step up and step out.”

Ian Richardson

Ian Richardson is a 2014 graduate of Evangel University and former intern with the Pentecostal Evangel. He is originally from Afton, Iowa, where he grew up as the son of an Assemblies of God pastor.