Indian Creek Valley United Methodist Charge minister retires
After 14 years, the Rev. Paul Freidhof retired as the minister for the Indian Creek Valley United Methodist Charge, which includes Calvary United Methodist Church, Mt. Salem United Methodist Church and Davistown United Methodist Church.
“He was a friend to everyone. His ministry went well beyond the pulpit. His service really was to minister to the community,” said Lori Ritenour, chairperson of the Pastoral Relations Committee.
Freidhof, 66, said his health has not been the best and felt the time was right for him to retire.
“I wanted to spend some time with my 16 grandchildren, and it's time for me to take care of myself,” he said.
He said what he will miss most is the personal relationships he has with his congregants.
“We have developed such great relationships and we have a deep love and respect for one another,” he said.
Judy Sanner of Donegal Township is a member of the Davistown church. Sanner said Freidhof was well known at the church for his compassion and being there for his members when they needed him.
“If someone was sick, he was always right there when it was going on, not two days later. He was more like family than a pastor, and I think everyone at Davistown felt the same way,” Sanner said.
Freidhof said he went above and beyond in caring for his flock in the way Sanner described because he felt it was an honor to be able to serve people more than anything else.
The popular minister said he is proud of all he was able to accomplish while serving the three churches, naming many physical improvements to the church facilities.
“We have accomplished more things than you can even imagine, and there is no debt. I don't believe in having a church in debt,” he said.
He is pleased with the spiritual programs that were started during his tenure, including a movie night, volleyball program, Prayer Journey, Pathways Bible Study, Kids Night, Gospel Sings and the Prayer Shawl ministry — to name a few.
In addition to his work in the churches, Freidhof believes it was important to minister to the community as well and he was well known for marrying couples and officiating at funerals for those who did not belong to a church. He even began a volleyball program at Calvary, with many children who participating who did not have a church to call home.
“Volleyball teaches ethics, good sportsmanship, godly principles, and we teach them fellowship. Many kids in the community may belong to no church at all, and this is one place they can come and learn these principles,” he said.
He was instrumental in the rejuvenation of the Laurel Ministerium.
“I believe in stepping out of the box. I like to see people become connected and I don't believe in barriers such as different religions,” he said.
Freidhof may be retiring, but he has no plans of resting on his laurels. He is on a three to six month sabbatical. He and his wife have moved to Bellefonte to be closer to their daughter and son-in-law, who run a church camp there. He plans to help out at the camp by providing handyman services as needed.
Having spent a great deal of time in hospitals with his parishioners and often stepping in as an advocate for them, he is planning to research patient advocacy and hospice and how to improve these areas.
Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.