Seven months ago, Rev. Joel Sutton accepted a pastoral call to St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Huber Heights. Sutton, along with his wife, Terri, left his rural parish in Holland, MN, to come serve in the “big city.”
Residents of Huber Heights might not perceive their city as big, but it is vastly different from Holland, where Sutton and his wife lived for 4 1/2 years.
“There’re more people within a one mile radius of St. Timothy than in the entire 470 square mile county where we lived in Minnesota,” said Sutton. “It was a farming community, with lots of open space. The hardest thing to get used to in the Dayton area is the traffic and the amount of time sitting at traffic signals.”
Asked about the challenges of shepherding a city parish versus a rural one, Sutton said, “People are people, no matter where they live. We all experience the same life challenges, temptations, hurts, and sorrows. We all suffer from the same terminal illness—sin—and the only cure is Jesus Christ. While the demographics are different place to place, one thing remains constant: It’s only by God’s grace and mercy that we are saved.”
Unfortunately, recent polls indicate that Americans are leaving the church in droves. With attendance in decline, does Sutton have changes in mind for St. Timothy?
“We live in challenging, turbulent times, no doubt, but it was even more challenging for Jesus’s disciples,” Sutton said. “They went out with one message, namely, that Jesus loved the world so much that he came to die for sinners, which includes all of us. This message is timeless and has produced faith in people for almost 2,000 years. On Sunday mornings at St. Timothy, we gather to confess our sins and receive forgiveness from our Savior.”
Pastor Sutton plans to walk around the church’s neighborhood in the coming weeks to introduce himself and invite people to worship at St. Timothy on Sunday mornings at 10:30.
“We are a conservative, liturgical church,” said Sutton. “If you’re nervous about trying out a traditional worship service, visit us on Friendship Sunday, July 30. There will be plenty of visitors who are new to liturgical worship and you’ll fit right in!”
St. Timothy is a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod congregation, located at 5040 Rye Drive, between Fishburg and Powell, off of Brandt Pike. You can find out more about them at www.sttimothylutheran.net or www.facebook.com/sttimothyhh.