Penn Friends gets new pastor

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Steve Witzki, from left, pastor at Penn Friends Community Church since August, Julia Bell, church secretary, and Steve Roush, head of the Ministry and Oversight Committee, prepare for changes to the Sunday lineup.

Penn Friends Community Church, a Quaker church in Cassopolis, is seeing some changes.
Members have not only welcomed a new pastor but are moving from two services to one service during the winter months.
Beginning Sunday, the new schedule will be:
• Adult/youth Bible study— 9  to 10 a.m.
• Fellowship time — 10 to 10:30 a.m.
• Worship service — 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Steve Roush, head of the Ministry and Oversight Committee at Penn Friends, said of the consolidation, “We want to be good stewards of our resources, and now in one service, we will have the economy of saving on heating and lighting the building. I think it is a good decision. We all gel together in one service, as we’ve done a couple of times recently. We had a celebration service all together when the new pastor came, and he gave us that desire and hope to bring the congregation together. The new pastor desired this change, and he felt we should take into account that it’s difficult for people to get around in winter weather.”

Utility savings
“Some people really liked the early service, but it was attended more in the summer than the winter,” said Richard Wright, church clerk. “We will save more money in the winter months from heating and electric costs to worship all together. Our sanctuary seats a little under 200 people, and when we worship all together now, we don’t even fill it all up. We have maybe 150 to 160. So, if we get up to 200 again, then we’ll have to go back to two services.
“At this new schedule, people will be able to attend both Bible study and Fellowship Hour. Before, they were held the same time in between the two services. It will be good for the community, too, for us to offer more options.
“When I get up to sing in the Worship Team,” Wright said, “when we’re all together, there are more people out there. I like that.
“Some people who attended the first service found that when they came to the service that was altogether, there were people they never knew, had never seen. One man who had always come to the first service came up to my brother, Robert Wright, and introduced himself, thinking my brother was somebody new. My brother laughed and said he’d been here some 66 years.”
Pastor Steve Witzki has been on board since August.
“I felt he was the best one we interviewed,” Wright said. “I like it that he’s on the young side, compared to me. He’s Biblically sound, and I like him personally. He’s good with people, easy to get to know. He doesn’t have any family with him, so he’s on his own right now. I hope he sticks it out until his family can join him. They plan to sell their house, but, in this economy, who knows when a house will sell.”
Witzki came from Missouri, where he went to pastor a church. But he wished to return to the area where he grew up and worked with the Battle Creek Friends Church. He visits his parents and brother in Battle Creek on the weekends.
“The Indiana Yearly Meeting (Quakers) referred a number of people to us, but none of them worked out,” Roush said. “Then Kelly Hadlich, one of our interim pastors who was from Battle Creek Friends Church, submitted Steve’s name. He knew Steve Witzki was looking for a job in this area. So we called and asked him to submit his resume.
“For one thing,” Roush said, “he’s a young fellow in his 40s. He’s a family man and can identify with the many young marrieds we have in our congregation. He pastored Jackson (Mich.) Friends, and it was an older congregation, so he knows the needs of the older members, in that respect. I think he brings a lot of enthusiasm to the job. He has the ability to use media in fresh new ways and is into computers. He’s well-versed in the various medias and presents the word in informative and new ways.”
Pastor Steve Witzki said he sensed in ninth grade God’s call to serve in full-time ministry, and, two years after high school, he joined the U.S. Army for the purpose of gaining maturity and money for Bible College. After a year in the Army, he married Stacy.
After his military service, he enrolled in Fort Wayne, Ind., Bible College, where he played four years on the basketball team, graduating in 1992 with a major in Christian education and Bible.
“From college, I went to Battle Creek, where I was born and raised, to be a youth pastor and Christian school teacher,” Witzki said. “In 1993, Stacy gave birth to our first child —Seth Steven — on our seventh anniversary, and, over a year later, we had our second son —Shane Matthew. After five years of youth ministry, I accepted an assistant pastor position at an Evangelical Friends Church in Canton, Ohio. While there, I finished my master’s degree in systematic theology (Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary) and enjoyed 8 ½ years of ministry. During this time, we were blessed with our third child — Noah Samuel.”

A purpose to life
Witzki has been the primary author of three Wikipedia articles in theology (“Apostasy in Christianity,” “Conditional Security” and “Corporate Election”). He said he feels his life purpose is to encourage believers to remain in a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ — bearing much fruit to the glory of God (John 15:1-8).
“Since August 2011, I have been seeking to fulfill this purpose through serving the wonderful people at Penn Friends Community Church,” Witzki said. “I was attracted to Penn Friends because the people were a warm and loving community who liked to engage in vibrant worship. If you don’t have a home church, we would love to have you come and worship God with us.”
Penn Friends Community Church, 19107 Quaker St., is located at the corner of Penn and Quaker streets, north of M-60 between Cassopolis and Vandalia.
Penn provides Christian Education for all ages. For more information, call 445-8546.