930 Harding Memorial Parkway Marion, Ohio
(Church by Marion General Hospital)
Rev. Craig Lewis - Church
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|Churches sharing a pastor
|Lutheran minister helps Episcopalians
|BY JOHN JARVIS (from
The Marion Star)
|Two churches, one pastor.
In an unusual arrangement between two denominations, St. Paul's
Lutheran Church and St. Paul's Episcopal Church are sharing one
Beginning earlier this month, the Rev. Craig Lewis, pastor for St.
Paul's Lutheran at 930 Harding Memorial Parkway since 2002, began
also serving the parish of St. Paul's Episcopal, 197 E. Center St.
"I think both churches were in a position where they were just kind
of trying to come up with creative ways to keep both places open,"
Lewis said, estimating the Lutheran church's membership to be about
40 and the Episcopal congregation to be about 25.
Martha Wright, spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, of
which St. Paul's Episcopal is a part, described such a situation of
sharing pastors between the two denominations as "not all that
unusual. There are at least two other situations like that in our
diocese. Often it's a case where the churches are nearby, and they
can share a pastor or a priest."
The Rev. Cathy Schibler, assistant to Bishop Marcus Lohrmann of the
Northwestern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of
America, said such arrangements have grown in number since the two
denominations became full communion partners in 2001. She said the
Marion partnership is the second one in the Northwestern Ohio Synod.
"It's been fun," Schibler said. "I think it's broadened our
perspective of what it means to be a church in the world together.
And, yes, we do have some smaller churches that are struggling and
can't always place (a pastor) full time. If we can share with our
full communion partners, great, and I think we might see more of
Vicky Tornes, senior warden at St. Paul's Episcopal, said the two
congregations held a combined Thanksgiving service and the St.
Paul's congregation will be attending St. Paul's Lutheran for Ash
Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season.
"Everybody's really happy about this," Tornes said.
She said Lewis is a comfortable fit for her church.
"He's pretty well-known in the community and knows other church
people, which can be helpful," she said.
Lewis was ordained as a Lutheran minister in 1990, graduating from
Trinity Seminary in Columbus. His first congregation was in
Hagerstown, Md. He came to Marion from Resurrection Lutheran Church
He welcomed the opportunity to serve St. Paul's Episcopal.
"I love it," Lewis said, and referred to a former rector for St.
Paul's Episcopal, the Rev. Ted Blumenstein. "I just feel like Ted,
who is passed, he would smile at this ..., because the churches are
pulling together. It's not like we're going to merge. We're just
sharing more resources in a cooperative effort. I think both
churches want to serve the greater Marion community."
He said he also knew the Rev. John Holliger, the most recent rector
for St. Paul's Episcopal, who retired to accommodate the parish when
it lost a significant source of revenue when the Louise Kling Trust
dissolved in 2011.
"I just think I was always kind of drawn to St. Paul's Episcopal,"
he said. "They tend to be more open on some of the social issues."
The Episcopal parish, he noted, hosts Alcoholics Anonymous groups, a
Narcotics Anonymous group and operates a food pantry.
"It's really kind of a beacon," he said. "I think of it as kind of a
light in the downtown city environment. I would try to do whatever I
could to just help out."
Jeannie Brewer, a member of St. Paul's Lutheran, said she's pleased
with Lewis' new role, too.
"I think by sharing Craig it has given him a new spark," Brewer
said. "I can tell it in some of his sermons, that he just has more
The average age of St. Paul's Lutheran is more than 70 years, she
"It can be depressing when your congregation isn't growing, and now
you have more than one purpose. I just think it's great that both
churches are being able to continue worshipping."
Originally published in
The Marion Star, February 18, 2012
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