60 Years Ago: Remembering the Ministry of Rev. Richard Shellenberger

May 31, 2013

Church News

For more than a quarter of a century the members of St. Paul’s UCC had know only one pastor, Rev. Richard Shellenberger.

Pastor Shellenberger began his ministry in Somerset on June 2, 1953, although he had served as supply pastor of the church several times before.  At that time, the Somerset Charge included the congregations of St. Paul’s, Somerset, and Salem in Lavansville.  On August 15, 1953, he married Carolyn Dunn of Lancaster, PA, and they later became the parents of five children.

Rev. Shellenberger was a creative and devoted pastor.  During his ministry in partnership with The Lord and the cooperation and support of his “church family,” most of his dreams for progress and  development in the church were realized.  St. Paul’s and Salem, were merged into St. Paul’s UCC, Somerset in 1966.  A new educational facility was built in 1961-1962 and developed into a functional unit so that any activity or project could be accomplished.  St. Paul’s acquired four properties according to plans projected in the early part of his ministry, as well as a recreational retreat at North Fork for a future reclamation project.

Pastor Shellenberger once said “the ministry has always been hard work, but it’s always been gratifying.”  He had a personal philosophy that the minister needed to be with the people, to love them, and grow with them.  That one accomplishment seems to be the beginning of the next one.  Part of his ministry to the congregation was trying to show the people what they could become if they let the Lord take over.

His love of people and interest in their problems spread into the community as he shared his time and talent in many ways.  During his years in Somerset, he served on many boards and committees, like the Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Library Board, and Tableland Community Association, to mention a few.

Rev. Richard Shellenberger died on April 29, 1982 at the age of 56 after a seven month battle with lung cancer.  His merry whistle, as he went about his work makes us remember, he left us a challenge to go on, to grow, to become what we were meant to be.  How can we better say it than through the words of his favorite hymn. “Go labor on, spend and be spent.  Thy job to do the Father’s will; It is the way the master went; Should not the servant tread it still?”

An inspiration to everyone who knew him and a caring, dedicated leader, friend, and teacher, he will never be forgotten.  His ministry lives on through the devotion of his beloved wife, ‘Lyn, and daughter Marcy, not to mention all of us who are proud to be spiritual kin to Rev. Shellenberger, through the blessing of the Holy Spirit.  In every sense, Rev. Shellenberger was a “Shepherd of his Flock” and lives on in his church family.

(Excerpts taken from the April 1997 Edition of “The Cornerstone)

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