Trinity Lutheran gets its first full-time pastor

October 16, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

The Rev. William Leonhardt Fredrick Gies enjoys delivering the word of God.

"I have the best job in the world," the bearded, 32-year-old minister says.

Members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Howard County agree that the pastor is good at his work and have hired the Milwaukee native to be their first full-time pastor.

Mr. Gies will be installed as minister at 4 p.m. today at Manor Woods Elementary School in Ellicott City, where the 30-member congregation meets Sunday mornings. He will give his first sermon Oct. 23.

"We're ecstatic because he's our first full-time pastor and we're looking forward to really serving the community," said Stephen Asendorf, an elder in the congregation. "That's what we're here for."

Since Trinity Lutheran was established in 1987, members say they have lacked a sense of consistency because they were guided by part-time and lay ministers. The congregation's first part-time pastor -- a retired minister -- had a fatal heart attack two weeks before his first service, said Ann Chaillou, a five-year member of Trinity Lutheran.

"Rev. Gies will provide us with a central focus, leadership and be the shepherd for Christian souls in the community," says Mrs. Chaillou, who chairs the church's evangelism committee.

"I think that when you don't have a full-time minister sometimes people come to a congregation and don't see continuity," she says. "They don't always see the same face and that's a central focus in a congregation."

Sitting in the living room of his new Columbia home and sipping tea last week, Mr. Gies called his new job "a challenge."

The small congregation made "a bold step" when it selected him, he says.

Mr. Gies says he plans to increase the congregation's membership and reach out to those who don't attend church. He says he wants to build "a community called the church" and spread the gospel, which he says is "a timeless message for all time."

The minister moved here two weeks ago from Nashville, Tenn., where he was pastor for the 60-member Concordia Lutheran Church for five years. His pregnant wife, Ruth, and son Jephthah, 4, arrived here a few weeks earlier.

The 60-year-old urban church in Nashville was Mr. Gies' first assignment after leaving Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He received a master's degree in divinity in 1989 from the seminary and a bachelor's degree in theology in 1984 from Concordia College in Milwaukee.

Mr. Gies says he's excited about his new church home, which is a member of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church. Trinity Lutheran and St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center are the only county churches in the synod, he said.

The synod helped Trinity Lutheran members in selecting Mr. Gies, Mrs. Chaillou says. He was selected from a pool of 13 ministers.

Mrs. Chaillou says she likes "his strong background in the word and doctrine and his belief in frequent use of the sacrament of Holy Communion and his strong background in liturgical issues."

Trinity Lutheran was conceived in 1986 when the Rev. Robert Mordhorst, pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Catonsville,

believed there was a need for a Lutheran mission congregation in Howard County, Mrs. Chaillou says. Seventy-five interested people attended the first meeting.

A year later, Trinity began.

Because they didn't have their own building, members first met at West Friendship Elementary School.

Last month, they began meeting at the new Manor Woods Elementary School on Route 144.

On Friday nights, members put up a church banner outside Manor Woods to let the public know about Trinity Lutheran. They remove it Sunday before the school week starts.

Mrs. Chaillou says church members are unable to meet if emergencies occur at the school, which can be inconvenient and frustrating for them.

"That's kind of a drag," Mr. Gies says.

But he and Mrs. Chaillou say there are no immediate plans for Trinity Lutheran members to purchase their own church building.

"There are churches probably meeting at every school in the county because it's very expensive to find church property now," Mrs. Chaillou says.

While Mr. Gies acknowledges that he is used to leading a congregation with its own building, he says he's up to the challenge at Trinity Lutheran.

"There's a partnership about to be born here," he says.

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