Joe Wilck 40 Years of Ministry
Joe entered the Lutheran Theological Seminary in the fall of 1972, after graduating from State University College at Fredonia with a BA in education.
Pastor married Deborah Youngs on May 20, 1972.
Upon graduation in 1976 from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia he was ordained on June 13, 1976.
Joe’s internship took place at Tabor Lutheran Church in the Olney section of Philadelphia. This was a German/English congregation struggling with identity and language issues all the time. They were thrilled to have an intern who spoke German fluently. His internship lasted the whole 15 months between the end of his second year and the beginning of his final year of study.
In the Spring of 1976, Bishop Perry recommended Joe to Holy Trinity Church in Buffalo, as their Assistant Pastor. Although surprised to be offered a position close to his home town, he was thrilled to be going to such an exciting place for his first call.
During his six year tenure at Holy Trinity, that congregation supported the immigration and resettlement of a family from Laos. When he and Debbie decided to adopt a child from overseas, Joe opened the church building and resources to an adoption support group of fifty families. Music was and is still a very important part of Holy Trinity’s ministry. Joe was helpful in arranging the celebration for the installation of the Margaret L. Wendt memorial organ, one of the largest and finest instruments in the state. Also important during these years was Joe’s involvement in the confirmation camp (Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Camp) and clown ministry. He also contributed a great deal to the adult education program, being one of the first to implement the “Word and Witness” program. He was promoted to Associate Pastor in 1979.
In 1982, Joe was anxious to be out on his own in his own parish. He accepted a call to First Lutheran Church in Strasburg, Ohio, a small town south of Canton. This was a big life-style change for the young family, as this part of Ohio is largely rural. Instead of the “big city”, they came to enjoy wide open spaces, Amish restaurants, weekly auctions and local fairs. Joe actually won the Corn Eating Contest at the Corn Festival two years in a row!
At first Joe helped the staff switch to computerized systems. He was also supportive of their active nursery school program. Just as Our Saviour, this was a major outreach program of the congregation.
In 1986, Joe accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran Church in Springfield, Ohio. He remained there for eleven years, helping this church grow through clown ministry, contemporary worship and an active youth program. The congregation hired its first Youth Minister, a young woman trained for this work at Capitol Seminary. Joe’s work there also included supporting a large Boy Scout program, building a new organ and installing a new roof. His nickname at the time was “Subcontractor for God”!
A highlight of his years at Trinity was the opportunity to travel to Germany as a translator for the bishop of the Southwest Ohio Synod. The synod’s sister city in Mecklenberg, in Northern Germany, was formerly part of East Germany. It was very interesting to learn about the challenges the church faced at this time. It was also exciting to visit all the Luther-land sites!
In 1997, Joe moved to the Northwest Ohio Synod to accept a call to Zion in St. Mary’s, Ohio. While there, contemporary worship really took hold and their youth group traveled to Racine, Wisconsin for a work project.
In 2002, he accepted a call to be interim pastor at St. Mark’s in Van Wert, Ohio, not far from St. Mary’s. During less than two years there, he was able to restore sagging attendance and rebuild the youth program. The young people traveled to Niagara Falls on one trip and to Atlanta, Georgia on another.
In April 2004, Joe arrived at the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour. In the 12 years of Service Pastor has enhanced our Sunday Services and Youth programs with fun ways to worship Our Saviour Jesus Christ. His Adult Bible Study and Alpha Course have been very successful.
Pastor has become our spiritual leader. He is a great communicator, has a dynamic personality and has great ideas. He is willing to listen, believes in miracles and he is truly one of God’s talented children. He has become not only our Pastor, but also a dear friend to all.
The members of the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour’s wish to congratulate Pastor Joe on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of his Ordination.