BY D’ARCY EGAN
Reverend Beth Westphal had a roundabout journey to becoming the new pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church and St. John Lutheran Church, both in Marblehead.
“I started out in musical theater,” said Pastor Beth, with a laugh. “I loved to sing in the choir while growing up in Sugarcreek, Ohio, and earned a degree in vocal performance at Ohio State University. Like so many kids in Ohio, after graduation I ran off to Florida to get a job in musical theater.”
She ended up working for a decade in state government in Tallahassee, Fla., in elder care. She also was a member of a little Lutheran Church there.
“I began to do more and more with the Lutheran Church, and less and less with my real job,” said Pastor Beth. “I discovered that my heart was with the church, and came back to Sugarcreek to be with family and to work for the church.”
Pastor Beth decided to attend Trinity Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, which is connected with Capital University. After graduation, she told her superiors she wanted to relocate to Washington DC.
“They said, well, we’ll put you close, and my first call was a church in Cumberland, Md.,” said Pastor Beth.
She became an associate pastor and a part-time chaplain for a nursing home. From there Pastor Beth landed in Wheeling, W. Va., where she met Rev. David Westphal.
“David was a widower with three teenagers and a pastor at a nearby church,” she said. “He lived four doors away, and after his youngest graduated from high school, David and I decided we wanted to serve a congregation together.”
They married, and moved to Canal Winchester, Ohio and a larger congregation, where they served as pastors together for six years.
“When David retired six years later, we moved to Tiffin, Ohio, where I was a director of mission and pastoral care for a Roman Catholic nursing home. I loved working with the good sisters, but I wanted to serve at a Lutheran Church.”
She was assigned to St. John Lutheran Church and St. Paul Lutheran Church, both in Marblehead.
“I found a sense of community outreach here that was wonderful,” she said. “Each church has its own congregation they are in very good shape. And each has its own church council, budget and administration. Both churches have beautiful buildings that serve the community very well.”
Pastor Beth is also warmingto the idea of bringing music to both congregations.
“I sang at my installation here, and enjoy singing for the congregation,” she said. “I hope to sing for the 16th anniversary of my ordination on Sunday, Oct. 27, which appropriately is Reformation Day.”
Is she a reverend or a pastor?
Reverend is the title,” she said. “Pastor is the job. And I throughly enjoy both.”
Pastor Beth also enjoys the Marblehead Peninsula and its diversity.
“There are families that have been here for generations, seasonal residents who come here to enjoy the summers on Lake Erie, and those who come here to retire,” she said. “It is such a wonderful combination.”
“My goal is to bring my theatrical experience, and my years of experience with the church, to this community,” said Pastor Beth. “I want to do some sort of drama here, perhaps an Act of Faith group that can do musicals. It would be a cool way to draw students to the church.”