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Chosen path leads pastor back to service in Brookline

| Thursday, April 8, 2010, 12:00 p.m.

Christina Ingold learned the importance of serving her community early in life as a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Millvale. Now, she is applying those lessons to her new position as pastor of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brookline.

Ingold, a 1998 graduate of Shaler Area High School, spent her youth volunteering. She was involved in Christ Lutheran's youth group, volunteered for Vacation Bible School and helped with community projects.

"We grew up knowing the importance of community," she said.

During high school, she attended a youth servant event with the youth group at Bethesda Children's Home in Meadville, which is where she first felt drawn to working in a Christian environment.

"I started out saying I wanted to work in a Christian-based organization," Ingold said. "But as much as I said I wanted to work in a Christian-based organization, I could feel somewhere it would lead to something else."

After she graduated from Westminster College with a degree in psychology and Christian education, she answered the call to become a pastor and entered seminary in Gettysburg.

Now, after almost a decade of serving in other states, Ingold is coming home to serve the Brookline neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

"From the very minute I started working there and leading there, it felt like a family. It felt like home," Ingold said.

St. Mark's had been without a pastor for nearly two years after its previous pastor answered a calling at another church. It had been relying on retired pastors or an interim pastor to hold Sunday services.

"We just needed to be patient," said Kris Knouff of Baldwin who served on the call committee. "We were looking for somebody to teach us, preach to us, minister along with us."

Ingold said she was drawn to the church's mission-oriented focus because it was similar to her Millvale church's philosophy.

She said she is looking forward to working with the congregation to help it grow in faith and numbers.

"We don't want to play church, we want to be church -- out there doing things that really exemplify the Gospel," she said.

The Rev. George Mendis, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, watched Ingold grow up within the church and believes she will serve her new community with the same enthusiasm she showed as a girl.

"She walks the walk and talks the talk," Mendis said. "She has compassion for people who are in need and also knows how to celebrate with people who are joyful."

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