Minister taking pulpit where his father once stood 'Coming home is an added bonus'

September 19, 1993|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,Contributing Writer

When the Rev. David Helfrich assumes the position of senior pastor at Grace Lutheran Church on Oct. 1, he will be coming home.

His father, the Rev. Harold B. Helfrich, was senior pastor at the Westminster church from 1965 until his death in 1974.

"I'm looking forward to being here," said the younger Mr. Helfrich. "I love the Westminster area."

He, his wife, Sharon, and 7-year-old daughter, Christen, now live in Timonium, but he has many fond memories of his youth in Carroll County.

"I was one of the first graduates of the new Westminster High School in 1972," he recalled.

He is also a 1976 graduate of Western Maryland College. He received his master's of divinity in 1981 from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa.

Even though his wife is from Manchester, their paths never crossed until they met at Susquehanna University in Selins Grove, Pa. They already had something in common.

"She won the Lutheran Brotherhood scholarship that I came in second for," Mr. Helfrich said.

With the retirement of the Rev. Frederick Eckhardt, Grace Lutheran Church needed to find a minister who would fit in with its congregation.

"The bishop's office matches the pastor's gifts with the congregation's needs," said Mr. Helfrich.

He was interviewed and the congregation agreed that he would be the best man for the job. He will be leaving Faith Lutheran Church in Cockeysville, where he is a pastor.

At Grace Lutheran, he will be joining the Rev. Connie Miller, the pastor, and the Rev. Stanley Whitson, the visitation pastor. He and Mrs. Miller are old friends from their days at seminary together.

"I'm looking forward to working with him and taking Grace Lutheran Church into the 21st century," Mrs. Miller said.

Mr. Helfrich agrees.

"I'm excited about working in a team capacity," he said. "My sense of Carroll County is that it is at its root a rural county that is becoming urbanized."

"I think the role of the church is to assist in that transition."

Mr. Helfrich said that he hopes to continue the tradition of dedication to the community that Grace Lutheran, whose motto is "Where God's grace meets human needs," has maintained.

"This congregation already has a strong social outreach program and I would hope to continue that," he said.

He also plans on placing an emphasis on adult education and Bible study. He said that he believes that one of the church's major challenges will be "remaining connected to what it's been, while at the same time having the courage to explore what it can be."

The church offers a dial-a-prayer line as well as having its services on cable Channel 19 on Monday nights and on WTTR radio at 11 a.m. every third Sunday.

"What excites me about this call is the possibilities of this congregation," Mr. Helfrich said. "Coming home is an added bonus."

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