Presbyterian minister wants to help people connect with God
Almost 20 years ago,
when she was a stay-at-home mom with two small children, Angela Schenck
was asked to fill in for her vacationing minister. Shed never preached
before, and felt nervous. But afterwards people asked Schenk if shed
ever considered joining the ministry, since, she was told, she had a
natural gift for sharing her faith.
The seed was planted, said Schenck, now an ordained Presbyterian
minister who began last month as the new minister for the First Presbyterian
Church, taking over from interim minister Martha Kline.
Schenck, 48, brings to her new position enthusiasm for talking about her
faith, and a desire to help people connect with God, to find the
way that God speaks to them.
Her goal, she said, is to provide in the church a variety of opportunities
forpeople to make that connection.
Some people need a quiet, centering type of faith, she said.
Others are attracted to a more high energy experience, while others
want the traditional hymns. Its a challenge to reach out to them
Her Christian faith has been a bedrock in Schencks life as long
as she can remember, starting with her childhood in Kettering, when her
father read Bible stories to her each evening, and when she felt
the presence of God in nature, in the creeks and trees behind her
When she was 15 that world was shaken, she said, when her only sibling,
a sister 11 years older, was killed with her husband in a car accident.
Although she felt angry and confused, Schenck found that overall the incident
strengthened her faith, because she witnessed how her parents beliefs
helped them through the tragic time.
She would like to help others find that source of comfort, said Schenck.
If nonbelievers came to her, she would tell them what I believe
and what my faith has meant to me, she said. Then its
the work of the Holy Spirit. We can plant seeds but God has to make them
The seed planted in Schenck 20 years ago became a desire to attend seminary,
which she did a few years later at the McCormick Theological Seminary
in Chicago. Seminary proved stimulating, she said.
It was an intellectual experience which addressed a different side
of my faith, said Schenck, who believes that questioning is a natural
part of the religious experience. God doesnt ask us to check
our brains at the door.
Following ordination, she served as pastor at the Elk Grove Presbyterian
Church in suburban Chicago for 11 years, before she and her husband, Fred,
a defense contractor, decided to move back to the Dayton area to be closer
to family. At the time, she didnt know how that decision would affect
I began seeking a new call to see what God had for me in this area,
she said. When she discovered the First Presbyterian Church in Yellow
Springs, It felt like home, said Schenck, who recently moved
with her husband their children, Carolyn and Mike, are grown and
out of the home into the church manse on Whiteman Street. I
love it here. I love the diversity of the community and the congregation.
The local Presbyterian church faces many of the same challenges
that all churches face, said Schenck, including an aging congregation.
We need to figure out how to share the good news of the Gospel with
each new generation, she said.
Whatever lies ahead for her in Yellow Springs, Angela Schenck feels that
choosing to serve as the First Presbyterian Churchs minister was
the right choice to make.
Sometimes you dont know where the end of the road will take
you, she said. But you know the next step.