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New vicar settling into role at Bridgeville church

From left: Rev. Duncan McLellan and Vicar Chris McCarthy.

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Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Chris McCarthy hasn't been at Zion Lutheran Church in Bridgeville for very long.

But Pittsburgh already feels like home to McCarthy.

“I didn't really know much about Pittsburgh. I'm glad now that I'm here,” McCarthy said.

“In Ohio, you don't really want to go to Pittsburgh, I guess. They move south. But now that I'm here, I think, ‘Why are we saying that?'”

McCarthy, 24, will serve as vicar at Zion Lutheran until August 2015. He's in his third year of studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., and will graduate and be ordained to the priesthood in May 2016. As vicar, McCarthy will assist the church's pastor with many duties, such as assisting with worship on Sunday and house visits.

This is the second year a vicar will work under the supervision of Rev. Duncan McLellan, who was named pastor in 2010.

He said the process to place a vicar involved interviews and input from the seminary's field work church supervisor, as students serve at a nearby St. Louis church for five to 10 hours each week.

“They try to match guys up with a church that will be suitable for them,” McLellan said. “He's a student and it's his job to improve, and the church supports that vision and that ministry. It will be a good year.”

How are they getting along?

“I had to buy him lunch a couple days last week, so he owes me for that,” McLellan said with a chuckle.

“It's been interesting making the transition from one vicar to the other. (Former vicar David Schultz) and Chris have different gifts, different ways in which they found the path to ministry. So, it's neat seeing someone who's different with a different skill set, “McLellan said

McCarthy was working toward a history degree and planned to join the U.S. Marine Corps before pursuing a path to the priesthood.

“I had no intention of going to the seminary at all until I went to Concordia University Wisconsin. Through that I met people who were in the pre-seminary program. I talked to my uncle, who's a pastor in the area, a lot more.”

McCarthy plans to immerse himself in every aspect of serving as a priest during his year at Zion Lutheran Church.

“I hope to learn the leadership and business side of things, getting something going and seeing it through,” he said.

“Seminary does a great job of teaching theology and the languages and the doctrine and the history and even the mechanics of how to give a sermon and teach Bible class. But it's not their place to teach these business, leadership aspects of ministry that are also very important to the success of the church,” McLellan said.

“Hopefully, Chris will see one way church leadership works, the things we do well, the things we don't do so well, and then for him to take those back with him to seminary.

McCarthy is happy in his new role and looking forward to the future at his new home.

“The church is great. They've welcomed me. Just driving around, I'm like, this is comfortable. Just like I've been here for years.”

David Mayernik Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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