Mount Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, 308 Petersburg Road, Lititz, recently welcomed Adam Koontz as its senior pastor. He was installed on July 20.
Koontz came to the church, which is part of the Missouri Synod Lutheran denomination, by way of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind., from which he graduatd earlier this year. Koontz, however, is no stranger to Pennsylvania.
"I was born in Pittsburgh, but my father was in the Army, and he was detailed to Fort Indiantown Gap," explained Koontz, who relocated to Pine Grove in Schuylkill County with his family at the age of six months. He attended Pine Grove schools and Swarthmore College, near Philadelphia.
"I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, and I am both a Pirates and a Phillies fan," admitted Koontz. "My loyalties are split."
Not having attended church as a child, Koontz began to explore Christianity after leaving home. "I started going to church when I was in college," he recalled, adding, "I found the church, and that's (also) where I found my wife." Koontz believes a church member did a little matchmaking by bringing Koontz and his wife, Jennifer, together in the same car pool. "I didn't have a car and (Jennifer) was detailed to pick me up on Sundays," he said with a grin.
After graduating from college in 2008, Koontz became a managing editor at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Wilmington, Del., publishing academic journals. In 2010, he left the job to attend seminary.
In the fall of 2013, the seminary began the work of placing students who would graduate in May, including Koontz. "At the beginning of your last year, you are asked a variety of questions about the type of church (you feel drawn to) and where you would like to serve," explained Koontz, who added that a list is created and potential graduates are matched with churches that have openings.
Mount Calvary, which is located near Neffsville, moved from Lancaster to that location about 20 years ago. The denomination has had a presence in the county for more than 100 years. Presently the church offers two Sunday services at 8 and 10:45 a.m., and, according to Koontz, about 120 people total attend the weekly services. A Bible class is held each Sunday at 9:15 a.m. "We have adult Bible class and Sunday school for kids," said Koontz, who added that a special adult Bible class is held for up to 30 Nepali refugees, who are shuttled from Lancaster city to attend. "One of our elders teaches that (class), and we have a translator for him," explained Koontz.
The refugees came to Lancaster via Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, which represents a partnership between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Missouri Synod Lutheran. "(The refugees) were kicked out of Bhutan for being Nepali Hindus," explained Koontz. "There were six or seven refugee camps (established by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service)." The service has resettled the refugees in the United States in areas where there are substantial numbers of Lutherans. Approximately 2,000 refugees have been relocated to Lancaster.
Looking forward, Koontz said he hopes to see the evangelism-minded Mount Calvary reach out to area residents in its own backyard. "Being Missouri Synod, we have a number of transplants from the Midwest (who attend the church), but we want to become more of a neighborhood church," he said. "It would be great to have more people walking to church."
Readers who would like to learn more about the church may search for "Mount Calvary Lutheran Church - Lititz, PA" on Facebook.