When God called Bob Palczewski of Defiance, and Diane Pickering of Ney, to do more in their faith lives, the new co-pastors of Holgate United Methodist Church (UMC) and Malinta Memorial United Methodist Church stepped up to do God’s work.
The call to co-pastor the two churches is the first for both Palczewski and Pickering, who both have been involved in their home churches for many years. Under the guidance of Rev. Dr. Scot Ocke, district supervisor of the Maumee Watershed West Ohio Conference, and Pastor Mary Kay of Christ United Methodist Church in Napoleon, the two new pastors are serving the needs of the people at both churches.
“As a small child I loved church, I grew up Catholic, and I used to play church as children at our house,” said Pickering about her faith background. “As I got older, I was given my grandmother’s Bible, and by the time I was 14 I had read the whole thing. So all through my life I’ve always gone to church, I’ve tried various churches, and when I came to the United Methodist Church, I found my home.
“I love the way the church accepts other faiths, I love the theology, and I love the way the people love and care for one another, it’s very Biblical,” continued Pickering, a Fairview High School graduate who works as a quality engineer at IEC in Wauseon. “One Sunday, our pastor told us that the next week she couldn’t preach, and that we could just skip church. I told her, ‘No, I’ll preach,’ and when I did it I loved it so much, I knew God had a plan for me.”
Meanwhile, Palczewski, a native of the Bronx, N.Y., was already heavily involved at his church when he felt God calling him to become a pastor.
“I was raised Catholic, and when I went to college (in New York) the first time, I started looking for answers,” said Palczewski, who retired as maintenance supervisor at General Motors Casting Operations in Defiance after working there for 33 years. “When I came to Ohio (in 1977), I heard the gospel in a way I never heard it before. I went to several churches looking for answers, and in my search, I found a Methodist church.
“One Sunday, Pastor Todd Anderson (of St. Paul’s UMC) invited my family to Christmas Eve service, and what we found there spiritually made sense,” added Palczewski, who also did 22 years of service with the National Guard. “As time went on, someone said, ‘You should go to lay servant classes,’ so I did that. Then I went to lay speaker classes, and then I found out about certified lay ministers, and I did that because I knew the Lord had more for me to do.”
Both Pickering and Palczewski decided that with God calling them to do more, they both put in the work to become licensed local pastors.
“Taking that step to become a licensed local pastor has put everything together for me,” said Palczewski. “I’m building relationships, reading the Bible and getting the message out, ministering to other people ... just like the gospel message. It’s what God wants us to do.”
Said Pickering: “Taking this step has allowed me to help people, to rescue lost souls, to visit the sick and the homeless ... to do God’s work.”
Palczewski, who is working 1/2 time, and Pickering, who is working 1/4 time, have been preaching together since June 30 every other week at Holgate UMC at 8:45 a.m., and at Malinta Memorial UMC at 10 a.m. The schedule changes Sunday, with Pickering teaching Sunday School at Malinta, and Palczewski preaching at both Holgate and Malinta. The next week, Palczewski will teach Sunday school at Holgate, with Pickering preaching at the two churches.
In addition, the two will preach at Christ UMC in Napoleon, six times a year.
“I have four goals for both churches, to preach and teach the gospel, to care for the congregation, do outreach to the community, and care for the sick and homeless,” said Palczewski. “That summarizes everything the bishop asked us to do, and that’s my goal and my purpose.”
Said Pickering: “The United Methodist Church has a new initiative to go out into the community and reach those people who don’t go to church. It’s all about going out to do different projects, to gather together for dinner, to meet for fellowship ... the ideas are limitless. It’s all about reaching people where they are.”
Since starting in their roles at the two churches, the co-pastors have led several events to bring the church to the people.
“There’s a lot of potential, and we really do have a wide open field of things we can do to share God’s love in these communities,” said Palczewski. “As we grow into these roles, and as we grow together in trust with the people of the two churches, we look forward to doing the work God wants us to do.”
Added Pickering: “I think the main point is that we believe that churches are for the community. I have some great ideas to reach those that are unchurched, and together we need to show people that Christians can have fun, and that the church just isn’t contained in the four walls. It’s about going beyond that.”
For more information about Holgate UMC, call 419-264-3702, and for more information about Malinta Memorial UMC, call 419-256-2502.