Spiritual journey lands pastor at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wexford
The Rev. Jennifer Fuhr's spiritual journey has included stops in Nebraska, Tanzania and Texas.
It has now brought her to the North Hills of Pittsburgh, and the new Cranberry resident could not be more excited about the challenges and experiences that await her.
Fuhr, 42, was officially installed as new pastor at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church on Brandt School Road in Wexford at a ceremony in April. She was chosen by a unanimous vote of the congregation following a sermon she delivered the month before.
“That was quite a wonderful day,” Fuhr said of the installation ceremony. “It was truly the grace of God that brought me here, and being able to share that spirit with the congregation was intoxicating, really.”
The sermon and vote capped a call process that spanned several months and included interviews via telephone and Skype, and, eventually, Fuhr's first visit to western Pennsylvania last November.
She comes to Trinity after serving as associate pastor of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in The Woodlands, Texas, and was struck by the difference in terrain.
“It's so beautiful here with the hills and rivers, and everything is so green,” Fuhr said. “In Texas, things tend to be pretty brown.”
Fuhr said one of her main goals is to expand the reach of the church far beyond the walls of the building.
“I have a strong desire to connect with people outside the church campus,” Fuhr said. “We all have a story to share, and one of our biggest challenges is to show that all those stories matter to God and should matter to each other.”
Church member Jane Hein, who led the call committee that brought Fuhr to the church, said that attitude is one of the main reasons she was chosen.
“In the past we have been a lot more traditional,” Hein said. “But (Fuhr) has shown us that it is OK to open our hearts to the community at large and reach out to all denominations.”
Fuhr was born in Leigh, Neb., an agricultural community of about 400 people, and graduated with bachelor's degree in education from Wayne State University. Before embarking on her teaching career, she joined what was supposed to be a month-long mission trip to Kyomu, Tanzania. The trip ended up lasting three months.
“That was a life-changing experience. My call to ministry really started there, on a hilltop in Tanzania,” Fuhr said. “I guess I might have known it before, but that is when it really became clear.”
Upon returning to the United States, she taught elementary school in her hometown for two years and two more years in Bartley, Neb. But eventually, she chose to answer her call, earning a master of divinity degree at Luther Seminary in Minnesota.
While at Lord of Life and two other churches in Texas, Fuhr put her education training to use, working with high school students, a ministry she calls “a partnering with youth on their journey of faith.”
It is a partnership she hopes to continue at Trinity.
“I think with her background as a teacher, she will be able to work well with children and families, and that is exciting as well,” Hein said.
Fuhr said she is not sure what God has planned for her new congregation, but she can't wait to find out.
“I just know this church has something special to offer to the community,” Fuhr said. “And together we are going to figure out what that is.”
Vince Townley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6364 or email@example.com.