South Park pastor gets his kicks as a stuntman
On Sunday mornings one might find Michael Scheib preaching the gospel to members of Jesus Fellowship Church in Bethel Park. There’s a good chance he’s sore from a bar fight the night before.
The 32-year-old pastor is a part-time stuntman whose credits include “Outsiders,” a WGN America show about a clan of Appalachian outsiders and the the horror movie “Help Me First.” He recently completed work on the Netflix series “Manhunt”.
He’s been punched in the face, thrown through walls and tossed down a flight of stairs. He dishes out as much faux-punishment as he takes and believes Divine Intervention played a role in his venture into on-screen violence.
Scheib spent most of his childhood watching kung fu movies and kicking the stuffing out of couch cushions.
For the sake of their furniture, his parents enrolled him in Tang Soo Do Karate College in Bethel Park. Master Jeffrey Mignongna taught Scheib the Korean martial art and channeled that destructive energy into something positive.
The discipline he learned in class, as well as the physical movements, gave the hyper-active kid an outlet for his aggression.
“It’s almost a mastery of self,” the South Park resident says. “It brings you that centeredness and helps you focus.”
For years, Scheib taught others the art of Tang Soo Do. That’s how he met his wife, Jessi, and her father, Tony Cataneo, Jesus Fellowship’s longtime pastor, who became a friend and mentor.
Scheib eventually converted to Christianity and served as assistant at the non-denominational church for eight years. Cataneo succumbed to cancer in 2016. Scheib stepped in as pastor, a position, he says, that’s not unlike a karate instructor.
“Both require leadership,” he says. “Whether you’re teaching a class or preaching to a congregation, you’re trying to convey a message and guide people along.”
Steve Tolin, owner of Beechview-based TolinFX, was one of Scheib’s martial arts students.
They developed a friendship and started collaborating at Tolin’s studio, which specializes in costumes and props for television, film, live acts and other creative projects. Scheib took a liking to Tolin’s innovative squibs, air-powered devices that create the illusion of a gunshot impact.
The pair meets regularly to box and study the Bible.
“Mike is one of the best humans I have ever met,” Tolin says. “His enthusiasm is contagious, his honor is unquestionable, his humility is inspiring, he works even harder than he kicks and his heart is his strongest muscle (which is saying something)!”
Scheib says he prefers to work behind the scenes, choreographing fisticuffs and showing other daredevils — including his 5-year-old son, Elliot — the tricks of the trade.
He encourages everyone to follow their dreams, even if it seems like a Hail Mary.
“It sounds cliche, but do what you love,” he says. “If you can get someone to pay you for making a monster or punching someone in the face, do it.”