~courtesy of The Scranton Journal
“I like to say that my retirement lasted 66 miles,” joked Pastor Jerry Schultz of Christ Lutheran Church in Jefferson and Ascension Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids. Pastor Schultz and his wife Carol had concluded their service at the Rolfe Lutheran Church with plans to retire in her hometown of Jefferson in June of 2018.
“The Lord had other plans,” smiled Schultz. While handling some banking business in Jefferson, an acquaintance pointed out the two churches needed a minister. He filled the pulpit starting on July 1.
“It’s been a good relationship in both churches. It’s been a good fit for us,” Schultz explained. “I’m glad that we’re able to do that. We’re enjoying both churches.
“I’m a people person and I like to get to know the people in the community,” he added.
Ministry is his second career. He had been farming about 10 years on a Century Farm near Pomeroy when he answered the call to go into the ministry. That was in 1992. The couple moved to Oklahoma where he attended Rhema Bible College. They have served the United Church of Christ in Fonda and Newell as well as the Lake View church. The last eight years they were at the Rolfe Lutheran Church where they celebrated 25 years in the ministry in 2018.
Along the way there were some other jobs. His wife became a college librarian but she is enjoying semi-retirement with her husband. She is active in both congregations as well as the Greene County Singers. Carol enjoys playing the guitar.
Pastor Schultz enjoys putting puzzles together and working on crossword puzzles. Visiting with people in the coffee shop is also a hobby.
He challenged the churches to become more active and is pleased with the direction both parishes have taken.
The Jefferson church begins each Sunday with Bible study at 8 am followed by worship and fellowship at 9. Monday evenings include Book Club at 6 p.m. On Wednesday, there’s Greene Bean Bible study at 8 a.m.
There’s also a cancer support group that will meet on May 21 at 7 pm and Women of the ELCA on May 15 at 7 pm..
The Coon Rapids Church is well-known for its annual Souper Bowl but they recently added a couple of other meals to raise funds. A spaghetti luncheon held recently was purposed to pay the expenses for camperships. The congregation is sending youth in the community to John 15 Vineyard outside of Scranton during the last week in July. Adults will be included also.
The congregation is teaming with the other churches in Coon Rapids to host the Vacation Bible School also this summer.
“The focus is on the community and outreach,” explained Schultz. “It’s a very friendly church. All are welcome on Sunday and at the Wednesday night Bible study at 5:30 pm.”
Sunday worship in Coon Rapids begins at 10:30 am but due to his commute from Jefferson, he admits he is usually about 15 minutes late. The morning begins a little before the worship with coffee for everyone to allow more socialization.
“I’m walking by faith and answered the call of the Lord by saying I’m available,” concluded Pastor Schultz. “We’re enjoying people in both communities and glad to be here in the area.”