Pastor ends time at Faith
For the last 24 years, the Rev. Michael Bodnyk has been pastor of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church. Soon, his time leading the congregation of the 3355 MacArthur Road, Whitehall, church will end.
Bodnyk’s last day preaching from the pulpit will be June 23.
Bodnyk, who lives in Orefield, attended Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia to attain his Master of Divinity, graduating in 1976. Having been ordained for 43 years, he has been an associate pastor of Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Abington, 1976-77; pastor of Dinkey Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ashfield, 1977-95; designated pastor of Dinkey Memorial United Church of Christ, 1977-85; and pastor of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1995-present.
He is a graduate of Muhlenberg College, Allentown, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.
Bodnyk was also a firefighter with East Penn Volunteer Fire Company from 1977 to 1995. He has been a firefighter with Community Fire Company No. 1, Schnecksville, since 1995 and is a chaplain with Pennsylvania State Police, Troop M, Bethlehem. He said he will continue working with Community Fire Company No. 1 and Troop M after his retirement.
Bodnyk said “working with the people” is one of the things he loves most about being a pastor and will miss this aspect when he retires.
“It is rewarding to be able to work with families,” he said. “At a place when they’re upset, you come in there and spread God’s word with them and share God’s love. You let them know for sure that no matter what they’re going through, God loves them and cares for them, and I care for them.”
During joyous times for families, such as baptisms and weddings, Bodnyk also enjoys those moments with people.
A challenge he and other pastors and congregations face today is getting new people into the church.
“The world is one of the biggest challenges right now,” he said. “A lot of churches are struggling with membership and size because our people are drawn in many different ways. They have to make a choice on Sunday morning — do you want to play basketball, or do you want to go to church?
“So one of our big challenges is just getting people to see the church is an important part of their lives and to be involved,” Bodnyk said. “It seems like each generation is going further and further and finding it easier to go further and further away from the church.”
Bodnyk said many years ago, parents wouldn’t allow their son or daughter to miss church to go to a sports game. Today, parents allow that to happen.
“Church is not a priority,” Bodnyk said.
This is true for Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, too, but Bodnyk added there is still a strong membership at the church — and it’s a very active church. Its members host breakfasts in the summer and basket socials and craft fairs throughout the year.
Bodnyk also said Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church has two Sunday morning services to expand the time people can worship.
Getting a new full-time pastor for the church will take some time, Bodnyk said.
“In the Lutheran church, when a pastor leaves, the church appoints a call committee of about six or eight people, who will interview the candidates for the church. The candidates it gets for the church will come through the bishop’s office,” Bodnyk said.
A representative of the bishop’s office will visit the church and find out what the church needs in a pastor to keep it thriving.
In the meantime, they will probably appoint an interim pastor until a decision is made for a full-time pastor.
And what will you see Bodnyk doing after he retires?
“Relax,” he said, “and let go of a schedule.”
Bodnyk and his wife, Sandra, who recently retired from BB&T as an executive vice president, will also visit their son, Michael Bodnyk Jr., who moved to Florida for a job. Traveling and involvement in various churches are in his plans, too.
“As I look back upon all the years I’ve served and all of the things I could have done,” Bodnyk said, “I don’t think there’s anything that I could have done or would have wanted to do differently than what I did.”