Waterville UMC Pastor Loves God, People, Community

Rev. Teresa Wenrick is the new pastor of Waterville United Methodist Church at 7115 Waterville-Monclova Rd. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Rev. Teresa Wenrick finds joy everywhere – in God, people, community and even the fact that Waterville United Meth-odist Church is located at the end of Pray Boulevard.

“I know it’s named after Waterville’s founder, John Pray, but to me it’s divine intervention that 28 years ago when the congregation bought this land, the street wasn’t even there, and now it leads directly to our church,” said Wenrick, who joined Waterville UMC as the new pastor last month.

Rev. Mike Denman, who served as pastor since 2013, retired after 41 years in ministry. During that time, he saw the congregation’s dream of a new church come to fruition after years of saving and planning. In March, he dedicated the 11,000-square-foot building at 7115 Waterville-Mon-clova Rd.

“We want this to be a gathering space for community groups, clubs and special events,” Wenrick said. “We’ll also go out into the community to meet them where they are.”

On June 25, the congregation welcomed the crowds of fireworks-watchers with popsicles and popcorn. As the grass grows at the back of the 9-acre property, the church envisions other activities on the lawn.

It was the sense of community – even in an area that is rapidly expanding with new apartments, villas and houses – that stood out to Wenrick as she met with church leadership about taking the appointment in Waterville.

“People thrive in community here as they do everywhere,” she said. “I’m excited to be a part of this amazing community.”

Growing up in Maria Stein near Lake St. Marys, Wenrick remembers being teased by other kids about her ever-present smile. A school administrator told her that one day she would see it as a blessing.

“I just can’t help it, this smile just comes naturally,” she said as she opened the door to the church.

After high school, Wenrick earned her BFA in illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) and began a 23-year career in the publishing industry.

While in Columbus, Wenrick was production manager and art director for several publications, which included fishing and hunting publications. She then worked for Amos Publish-ing in Sidney, which specialized in publications of collectibles, including coins, stamps, automobiles, crafts and even a daily newspaper. She ended her media career as the publisher of five craft magazines. 

It was her friend and the CEO of Amos Publishing who invited Wenrick to Sidney First United Meth-odist Church, and as she began studying the Bible intently, she was amazed at how relevant it is today. 

“Growing up, I knew about God, but I didn’t know God,” she said. “I was introduced to a God of light, love and grace. This intimate, passionate, life-changing relationship with the Lord is available for everyone.” 

While attending The Walk to Emmaus in 2008, she first felt a calling into ministry – and that was affirmed shortly afterward as she sat by the Sea of Galilee with her pastor and shared her thoughts.

“God said to me, ‘If you love me, then feed my sheep,’ like in John 21,” she recalled.

After her call into ministry, Wenrick worked full time while also attending the United Theological Seminary part time to earn her master of divinity.

In 2011, she began her ministry call at Sidney First UMC as administrative pastor, and then as discipleship pastor, before accepting the position of lead pastor at Delta UMC in July 2014, where she remained for five years. Since 2019, she has served as pastor of Forest Park Lima UMC.

“It was daunting getting called into the ministry in my 40s. It was not what I had planned, but God planned. This is not a job, it’s a calling. I get to do this, I get to serve Jesus and lead people to Christ,” she said.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength. I love Jesus, love God and love people. I’m fascinated by how God can create so many different people with different gifts and personalities from babies to seniors. I love them all.”

Wenrick is the mother of two adult sons: 28-year-old Lukas has a master’s degree from Harvard and is the director of ULC Pathways at Arizona State University; 25-year-old Shaun is a second-grade teacher for Troy City Schools.

Art continues to be a part of Wenrick’s life and a way to express her faith, she said, noting that she enjoys painting, pottery, photography and graphic design.

“Mugs are my thing,” she said, picking up a cup she created that reads “be” with the inscription Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

While services are held at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, leading a church is a 24-hour job, and Wenrick doesn’t mind. Flexibility is key to meeting the needs of members and those in the community who are searching, she said. 

“I’m open to meeting with people who want to grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat,” she said.

COVID-19 had its impact on all communities in so many ways. Wenrick said she remembers hearing people say how much they appreciated the time away from the hustle and bustle to refocus on what’s important: faith and family. As life returns to normal, she hopes that faith remains a priority.

“Don’t forget your spiritual life,” she advised.

“Within a small community, we can work together to further the kingdom of God,” she said. She looks forward to working with the clergy and other community groups in this new chapter in Waterville. 

For information, visit www.watervilleumc.org.

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