Zion Lutheran Church of Nesquehoning and St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Summit Hill welcomed Vicar David Lembo of Philadelphia to their helm as their new church leader for a one year term which runs until the end of next August.
"My favorite chapter is John 17 and that's very much a part of my heartthat all Christians may be one," Lembo said was his personal inspiring passage and his philosophy toward his ministry. "We are all God's children and it is through God's heart that all can be saved so that all may be one [through Him]."
Lembo brings a multi-cultural perspective to his ministry having grown up in Ghana, Africa with his parents who were missionaries from Togo when he was young. "I grew up with missionaries and their children of many different nationalities and faiths which gave me a wide variety of experiences and later when I worked I was able to meet many more people of different faiths and religions." As a result, he has learned to speak twelve different languages.
Lembo said his initial schooling was in the Ghana mission where his parents worked. When he got older, he returned to Togo for high school and to study at the university there where he studied Sociology and Economics. "After my education, I worked in the area of International Development in the non-profit world. My focus was on how to help Christians develop their witness in the world."
In Togo, he helped to develop a pharmacy that dispensed generic medicines for the people. He later moved to West Africa to work for a non-profit organization in order to drill fresh water wells for villages there. He helped churches and non-profit charities come together to accomplish the well drilling. "As I worked with the people and organizations, I discovered my motivation was based on my faith."
He was recognized and recruited by the organization Life Water International to come to America to help build international support. For a period of eight years he made periodic frequent trips to the United States to help build an international network for the organization. "My faith was pushing me to help others and I was in Colorado working with an Episcopal priest when he told me he believed I received a call to ministry," Lembo said. After some thought he began looking for a seminary in 2006. "Others saw the gift in me to minister, so I pursued it."
In 2008, he finally decided to attend the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. "I felt attuned to the Lutheran faith," he said explaining why he chose to become a Lutheran minister. He started in 2008 and completed his studies in 2012. Normally students would study in an internship in their third year of seminary, but a very bad car accident almost claimed the seminary student's life in 2010.
"I had a bad car accident one night on the turnpike," Lembo said. The life threatening accident put Lembo in a coma and he suffered a severely broken leg as well. "They didn't think I was going to make but people from the seminary came to visit and sit with me every day." He attributes his recovery which defied doctors to a miracle from God and beating the odds he was able to return to school to finish his education in 2011.
"My background gave me a wide variety of experiences but the committee that oversaw my studies wanted me to have the experience of leading a parish to finish my seminary education," he said. Lembo currently is under contract as an administrator for St. John's Lutheran Church in Melrose Park in Philadelphia. He divides his time between that position as he is needed and leading the church in Summit Hill. Before his internship, he also worked as an assistant pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Telford. "While I have an obligation to the church in Melrose Park, I want to be clear that I will be here whenever I am needed for anything from leading worship to leading meetings and anything else," he said.
The internship is for one year after which Lembo will be evaluated and then prepared to receive his first call. He became a US citizen in 2012 and plans to work here in the States. "I would really like to work in Pennsylvania since I now consider it my home, but I am willing to go wherever the need arises."
Fortunately for St. Paul's and Zion's congregations, Lembo's current service will be to their churches and his goal is to lead them, teach them and learn from them. He plans to fully participate in the churches' work and hopes to help develop lay leadership during his term. This soft-spoken preacher will make a wonderful addition to the community and the congregations welcome him wholeheartedly.
"We are glad to have him here and are looking forward to a good year," said St. Paul's Church Board President Thomas Vermillion. "We chose to have another vicar serve because it helps to breathe new life into the church." He also pointed out that working with a vicar also provides continuity and fresh perspectives to the parish. The internship was arranged and is mentored by Pastor Marjorie Keiter who mentors Lembo and also oversees the parishes while they have no full-time minister.
Services at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on West White Street, Summit Hill are at 10:30 AM with Sunday School at 9:00AM while Zion Lutheran Church in Nesquehoning has their church service at 9 AM. For more information, call St. Paul's at (570) 645-3469 or Zion's at (570) 669-9226.