FAQ's for Pastor Stuart

  FAQ's for Pastor Stuart  
Where are you from?
I grew up outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but through school and my training as a pastor I’ve also lived in central Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusets and two different places in Ohio. 

How long have you been at St. Paul's and how long does a pastor stay? 
I came to St. Paul's in March 2014 and I believe that consistent, faithful and long-term leadership is a great blessing to a congregation. St. Paul's is such a great congregation with phenomenal people so I'm excited to stay a long time and see wonderful things happen! Within the organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America it’s really up to the congregation and the pastor to work out how long a pastor ends up staying.  (The only real exception is when a pastor is somehow inappropriate and then the larger church may step in, which is very appropriate. I don’t expect that to ever be the case.)  Having said that I know the value of long-term leadership and also admitting that I’m not much a wanderer, I also must say that my call comes from God.  Always I want to be faithful to where and what God would have me be doing.  I have my hopes and dreams for the ministry of St. Paul's but God has, on occasion, reminded me that my own plans are always subject to His plans.

Why did you become a pastor? 
Well how long do you have?  I think the road to the ministry is made up of many, many tiny events that took place over most of my younger life that all combined to point in this direction.  There was, however, one major even in my life that dramatically changed my relationship with Jesus Christ and my sense of direction.  When I was 19 I worked at my home church as a custodian and one of the “perks” was working at weddings.  You got paid pretty well to open up the building, be helpful during the service and then clean up afterwards. However, during a wedding one of the pastor’s of the church had a major heart attack and died, right in the middle of the service. For the rest of my life I will remember how he fell over at the front of the church and how the EMT’s worked on him as the wedding couple sat nearby, watching and praying. 

At that age this event made a number of vital impressions on me.  One was how very short life is.  I’d never really thought about death up to that point and certainly not my own death.  In the weeks after that event, though, I struggled with what my life would stand for and what I would accomplish for God before my time came.  Another vital part of that day was that I was very mad at God.  I knew every person must die, but it didn’t have to be the pastor in the middle of a wedding.  The only way I can describe my anger at God is to ask, “Have you ever had a knock down, drag out argument with someone, but it really helped clear the air and make your relationship better?”  Well I felt like I had that kind of argument with God.  No longer was God or Jesus far away and distant, but he was very personal, guiding and leading me each day.  If I ever write a book I’d like to title it “The Weeping of God” because I came to realize later in life that God was as pained and full of sorrow that day as I was.  He was there crying right along with me and the rest of that large congregation. 

The other discovery that occurred that day was in the area of prayer.  A second pastor there to be part of the service led us all in prayer and yet my pastor wasn’t saved.  I thought surely if God answered prayers, he would have answered this one.  But I had always thought of prayer as something like giving your Christmas list to Santa Clause.  After that day, prayer changed for me into a regular communication with God, not just offering our requests but the building of a personal relationship. As I said in beginning, I always feel God is still working on me, making me the best servant that I can possibly be but that event certainly “jumped started” my relationship with God. 

How old are you and do you have a family?
I turned 50 this year (2016) which sounds kinda old to me, but hopefully it just means I've learned more! At present my wife and I will be married 25 years this summer and our two sons are 12 and 18.

Although I wouldn't describe us as a "young family" anymore, I have a great passion for the parents of young children and the wonderful opportunity they have to help kids grow in faith! On top of that I love kids and feel so passionately about communicating the Gospel to the present and the next generation.  (My wife would tell you I’m really a kid anyway!) 

How long and where have you been a pastor?
I was ordained in 1992 at my home congregation in Huntingdon Valley, Pennslvania and since that time I have served three congregations, St. John’s in Bellevue, Ohio, St. James in Limerick, Pennsylvania and now St. Paul's!