Panther Valley congregations welcome new Lutheran pastor
SHERI RYAN/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Vicar Ben Siebert is the new pastor-in-training for St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Summit Hill and Zion Lutheran Church, Nesquehoning. From left are Brian Buzik, secretary of church council at St. Paul's; Siebert; and Dr. Louis Vermillion, church council member.
For the past year and a half, the Rev. Marjorie Keiter has been one busy pastor.
In addition to serving her home church of St. John Lutheran in Lansford, she has also served as interim pastor of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Summit Hill as well as Zion Lutheran Church in Nesquehoning.
For the next year, however, Keiter will get a little break as she hands over the reigns to Vicar Ben William Siebert from Celina, Ohio.
Siebert, is a pastor-in-training studying for his master of divinity degree at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He received his undergraduate degree at Bluffton University in Ohio.
Siebert grew up on a grain farm and comes from a Lutheran household. He and his family attended church every Sunday.
"It was not always my favorite thing to go to. In fact, I remember kicking and screaming at having to get up far too early on a day where I wasn't going to school," said Siebert.
Despite not being much of a morning person at the time, Vicar Siebert knew from a very young age that he wanted to one day become a pastor.
"Ever since the third grade I had this idea, and looking at the pastor that I saw at the time, I was thinking 'Gee, I would like to do that,'" said Siebert. "Something inside me, whether it's a voice or whether it's a nudge or whatever it is, said 'OK, well, do it,'" he added.
In high school, Siebert, an active runner in track and cross country, also enjoyed attending youth group. When he started college, he became heavily involved in the Christian community life there.
Siebert is now in his third year of seminary working on his internship. Prior to coming to the Panther Valley area, he looked through many files of churches at the seminary and selected several congregations with which to interview, and be able to select a location for the internship. Seeking to minister in a small-town church, he met with Rev. Keiter.
"We hit it off very well, and so I decided that this would be a very good one for me to come to," said Siebert.
When asked what he hopes to bring to the two congregations, Siebert replied "Inspiration."
"It's like being a coach where I can tell them what to do and teach them how to do things but ultimately, we each have to run our own race. Inspiration for the individual as well inspiration for the church; the congregation as a whole, is ultimately what I want and hope to bring," said Siebert.
"I also want to bring something that lasts beyond when I am here," he added.
So far he has received a positive response from the congregations, stating that everyone has made him feel very welcome and feels that they will "match very well."
Rev. Keiter had this to say about Siebert: "Ben is a thoughtful, professional person who has a wonderful understanding of the Good News (the Gospel), church and people, with whom he relates very well. He is a good preacher, is energetic and trustworthy. One of the senior women we visited last week said to me (in his presence) 'He is kind of handsome, too!'"
Upon completion of his internship here, Vicar Siebert will have one year left of seminary and then will be looking for a permanent church home.