Thirty-four years of Blessings

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Today, March 1, 2020, is the day of my official retirement. The good people of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and new Pastor Scott Ness have been so gracious to me and my family as we enter this new chapter. My ministry here has been for the past thirty-four years, and I count every bit of it a blessing. And I look forward to my continuing service as Pastor Emeritus.

I have written here in The Citizen about this transition, but I was asked to write a bit more about my time and ministry here, so I do that today and probably will extend this to even one more article the next time my turn comes around.

I was ordained in 1976 and served two churches in Florida. In the summer of 1986, I was called here to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, which was a group of about 30 people worshipping in the Fayette Elementary School cafeteria on Hood Avenue.

I was 36 years old with my wife Elaine and two small children, Jessica (b. 1982) and Andrew (b. 1986). Rebecca (b. 1989) was born just after we built our first buildings, and was one of the first children baptized in our sanctuary. 

Being blessed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the growth of the area, Prince of Peace grew rapidly and we began to build on this property. In 1989 the Sanctuary was completed and dedicated.

To build the church and make our money stretch as far as possible, the members of Prince of Peace, including myself, worked daily on the building construction, doing as much of the work as our skill capacity allowed.

I remember crawling through the air conditioner ducts embedded in the concrete floor of the sanctuary, cleaning them before the air conditioner units were installed.

I also remember fondly riding the harness at the end of a crane line to take the cross and place it at the top of the steeple. I actually did that a second time after hail had damaged the first steeple.

But most of all, I remember the stewardship, sacrifices and the hard tireless work of all the church members, from little children to our most elderly members. There was something for everyone who was willing to work. It was a true work of God’s mighty hand that brought our beautiful sanctuary into being.

In 1991 our Fellowship Hall was built with the same construction process, also making room for additional classrooms by adding the walls along the present classroom hallway, which had been our Fellowship Hall until that time.

In those still early days, God brought so many of our ministries into being and gave them His success, all to His Glory.

Just to name a few: our dynamic Worship Services with a pipe organ very early on; Special Services for Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Reformation, etc.; Advent and Lenten Dinners; Sunday School, even back in the school cafeteria; Mrs. McAteer leading Kids’ Music Company, KMC, for 20+ years, followed now by Elaine Kollmeyer, who has also been our VBS Director for 34 years; Adult Christian Education Classes; our “God Squad” Youth Ministry with Karen King, Bill Mavis, Lori Adams, and Elaine Kollmeyer as Directors and many other disciples helping; Confirmation, which is three important years of extensive Lutheran instruction by myself and capable lay teachers for youth; Bible Camp at Lutheridge in North Carolina with hundreds of youth over the years being blessed by the spiritual growth of Christian camp; Fayette Samaritans, which began here at Prince of Peace headed by Shirley Jones; New Member Classes which added 100 members each year for a number of years through the 1990s and early 2000s; Pot Luck Dinners and many fun Fellowship Events, even a “Casino Night” shortly after the Life Center was built.

Through those years we have had both a softball team and a basketball team, of which I was a joyful participant on many of them.

“Bringing people closer to Jesus through a focus on the family” is our “Purpose Statement” which we adopted in the year 2000. Through the years God has blessed and grown all of our ministries all to His Glory.

Ms. Paula Littleton has led our Youth Ministry from 2006 to the present, adding so many components such as annual Mission Trips, etc. Elaine Kollmeyer is now our KMC Director, still with many helpers and supportive staff. Deanna McAteer is our Sunday School Superintendent. Our Church Councils and our ministries of Worship, Christian Education, Social Ministry, Outreach, Fellowship, and Stewardship have been blessed with strong and capable lay leadership and lay discipleship.

Thank you and bless you to all of you who have and still work so hard for The Lord here at Prince of Peace.

I have always been very active in our Fayette community, staying connected with the schools and school families, serving on special school and county committees, writing for The Citizen newspaper, connecting with our Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and with Elaine coaching many youth sports teams. All of these were excellent opportunities for ministry in our community. To be continued.

[Justin Kollmeyer is now Pastor Emeritus at Prince of Peace www.princeofpeacefayette.org.]