The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, May. 27, 2018

VW independent/submitted information

CIRCLEVILLE — Pastor Bill Watson and Bob Lippi from Turn Right Go Straight and Pastor Paul Hamrick of New Hope Recovery from Van Wert attended the Epidemic of Hope event in Circleville.

Local residents who attended a Circleville Epidemic of Hope presentation include (from the left) Pastor Paul Hamrick, Darryl Strawberry, and Pastor William provided

The local residents joined more than 500 area community leaders, law enforcement officers, church leaders, and concerned family members who listened as Darryl and Traci Strawberry, Recovery Specialist Pastor Greg DeLaney, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Pastor Jack O’Brien of Harvest Ministries, and others talked about the opiate crisis that is devastating the state, counties, and communities economically, socially, and spiritually. Not only did they share the magnitude of the disaster that Ohio is presently facing, but also communicated that — across Ohio — the call is “enough is enough”.

It is time Ohioans come together as a united team: the faith community, law enforcement, courts, and probation, business community, mental health, recovery services, and state and local government, to bring together resources to defeat this darkness that is robbing people of their future and the lives of young adults. Ohio has become the epicenter of opiate overdose deaths in America, while Dayton has been reported as the No. 1 drug city in the U.S. today.

But there is hope if Ohioans determine to work together to give the state, counties, and communities a better future than they are facing now. Hope is the reason the Van Wert County Ministerial Association and area churches have determined to be pro-active against the opioid/drug crisis. No longer can people have their heads in the sand or ignore the tragedy that is soon to become a tsunami sweeping the nation, state, communities, and homes.

The Ministerial Association is excited to bring The Epidemic of Hope event with Darryl and Tracie Strawberry and others to the area on April 15 at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. From 4 to 5 p.m. will be youth event while Darryl will be speaking, we will be bringing a prevention specialist to share from 4-5 pm youth leaders, coaches, and families. At 7 p.m. will be the Tri-County Main Event evening program at the NPAC. This is ticketed event (people must have a ticket to attend).

The Ministerial Association wanted to have as many people as possible attend, which is why the event is free. The group is receiving donations from churches, community minded businesses, and individuals to underwrite this event.

For more information about the Epidemic of Hope, contact Pastor Hamrick at 419.771.9378 or call Trinity Friends Church at 419.238.4506 to become a co-sponsor or donate to the event.

POSTED: 03/13/18 at 8:36 am. FILED UNDER: Church

VW independent/submitted information

Even though the weather was not hospitable, the second Van Wert County Ministerial Association Countywide Prayer service was well attended. Once again, the focus was to bring God’s intervention and blessing to the area as churches and individuals came together in oneness of heart to seek the face of God. The promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” was central in the hearts and minds of those in attendance.

Pastor Greg Rice, pastor of Trinity Friends Church, welcomed and opened the February prayer service.  Trinity Friend’s anointed worship team led believers from across the county into a powerful, intimate time of worship in preparation for united prayer. Pastor Bill Watson shared a compelling video by Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, on preparation for prayer. Closing the evening in prayer, individuals across the sanctuary gathered in small groups lifting family members, neighbors, and friends, seeking for God’s love, mercy, and grace to be poured out across the county.

The prayer service was followed by a time of refreshments and fellowship. In addition, the upcoming Tri-County (Paulding, Van Wert, and Mercer counties) “Epidemic of Hope Weekend” with baseball All Star and World Series team member Darryl Strawberry was also a focus of prayer.

The Van Wert Ministerial Association is organizing 6-8 powerful and cutting-edge events for the weekend of April 13-15 across the tri-county area, along with Strawberry, in response to Ohio’s current opioid/drug crisis. For more information on upcoming events, contact Pastor Paul Hamrick at 419.771.9378

The next countywide prayer service will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 11. Pastor Bill Watson of Pentecostal Way Church will be hosting the March prayer service at 1213 Leeson Ave. in Van Wert. The church is located just east of the airport.

These events are part of the 2018 Van Wert County Ministerial Association’s mission of FUN (Fellowship, Unity, Networking) for a better tomorrow.

POSTED: 03/06/18 at 9:03 am. FILED UNDER: Church

VW independent/submitted information

The First Baptist Church of Van Wert announces that Dr. David Warren will be interim pastor of the church.  Pastor Warren is currently filling the pulpit at the church until a new senior pastor is in place. He is no stranger to FBC, serving as an interim pastor 28 years ago and filling the pulpit on numerous occasions since.

Dr. David Warren

Pastor Warren was born and reared in Taylor, Michigan, and graduated from Cedarville University (1964) and Dallas Seminary (1968). He has been involved in four ministries: as pastor of Champion Baptist Church in Warren (eight years); an instructor at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa (four years); instructor at Cedarville (Ohio) University (18 years); and a state representative for the Ohio Association of Regular Baptist Churches (18 years).

He and his wife, Pat, have authored three publications for Regular Baptist Press. They reside in Cedarville.

The Warrens have four grown children (Janice, Cheryl, David, and Mark) and 13 grandchildren. They retired after 48 years of full-time ministry, but continue to enjoy “temporary assignments” the Lord gives them.  They have embraced and sought to live out Warren Wiersbe’s description of ministry: “Ministry happens when divine resources reach human needs through loving channels.” They believe that such ministry is a privilege, not simply a responsibility, and happily seek to fulfill opportunities the Lord continues to bring their way.

Pastor Warren will be preaching each Sunday morning service at 10:30. Drew Gardner, former pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Paulding, will be ministering on Sunday evenings at 6:30, speaking on topical subjects such as Biblical counseling and marriage and family.

The deacon board of First Baptist Church is actively searching for the next senior pastor and seeking the Lord’s will and timing. The deacons cordially invite those seeking a church family to come and be a part of the solid preaching and teaching of the Word at First Baptist Church.

First Baptist Church is located at the corner of Jennings and Mendon roads in Van Wert. For further information about the church and its service times, visit the church website at or email To contact the church office, call 419.238.0333.

POSTED: 02/17/18 at 12:36 am. FILED UNDER: Church

VW independent/submitted information

Pastor Steve A. Robinson recently retired as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Van Wert after ministering at the church the past 15 years (since January 2003).

Pastor Steve Robinson and his wife, Ethel. photo submitted

Pastor Robinson has been in full-time Christian ministry since 1971 and has more than 45 years of ministry experience. He says that, although he will miss serving as pastor at First Baptist, he is looking forward to what God has for him and his wife Ethel in the future.

Both Pastor Steve and Ethel Robinson were born and raised in Enid, Oklahoma.

Pastor Robinson graduated from Grand Rapids School of Bible & Music with a diploma in Christian education, received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Grace College and went on to attend Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana, where he obtained his Master of Divinity degree. He also received a diploma from the Institute of Holy Land Studies while in Israel. He has also pastored several other churches during his tenure of ministry.

The membership at First Baptist recently held a farewell service for the Robinsons and hosted several special guest speakers for the day who have been closely affiliated with the Robinsons over the years.  Guests speakers included Joe Goodman of Ethnos 360 (formerly New Tribes Mission), Chris Brown of Life Action Ministries, Deacon Dale Magee of First Baptist Church in Burnettsville, Indiana,  and the Robinsons’ son, Ben, who is the director of correspondence and constituent services in the Alaska Governor’s office in Juneau, Alaska.

Rev. and Mrs. Robinson continue to reside in Van Wert for the time being. Ethel Robinson is currently employed at Ameriprise, and, in the days ahead, Pastor Robinson hopes to have occasional opportunities preaching for churches that need help with pulpit supply ministry.

POSTED: 01/18/18 at 8:51 am. FILED UNDER: Church

Ten youths were recently confirmed at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert after attending classes with the Rev. Gus Christo-Baker. Mentors from the church assisted the students with their studies. First UM Church is located at the corner of Jefferson Street and Central Avenue in Van Wert. For further information, visit the church website at or phone 419.238.0631. photo submitted

POSTED: 01/15/18 at 8:57 am. FILED UNDER: Church

Submitted information

First United Methodist Church Youth Group is conducting a shoe drive fundraiser from now through November 17 to raise funds for our youth mission trip.

The youth group will earn funds based on the total weight of the pairs of gently worn, used, and new shoes collected, as Funds2Orgs will issue a check for the collected shoes. Those dollars will benefit First United Methodist Church.

First United Methodist Church Youth Group members with shoes already collected. (photo submitted)

Anyone can help by donating gently worn, used, and new shoes at 113 W. Central Ave. in Van Wert.

All donated shoes will then be redistributed throughout the Funds2Orgs network of micro-enterprise (small business) partners. Funds2Orgs works with micro-entrepreneurs in helping them create, maintain and grow small businesses in developing countries where economic opportunity and jobs are limited. Proceeds from the sales of the shoes collected in shoe drive fundraisers are used to feed, clothe, and house their families. One budding entrepreneur in Haiti even earned enough to send her son to law school.

“We are excited about our shoe drive,” said Youth Leader Teresa Shaffer. “We know that most people have extra shoes in their closets they would like to donate to us. By doing so, we raise money for our youth mission trip to Haiti next summer and we have the chance to help families in developing nations who need economic opportunities. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

By donating gently worn, used and new shoes to the First United Methodist Church, the shoes will be given a second chance and make a difference in people’s lives around the world.  Tell friends, neighbors, and family members and help pass the word and reach the goal of 300 bags of shoes.

About First United Methodist Church Youth

Middle school and high school students meet on Sundays at 5 p.m. for bible lessons, games, fun, food, and just to “hang out”. Students in grades 6-12 are invited to attend.

POSTED: 10/16/17 at 7:27 am. FILED UNDER: Church

Submitted information

It’s that season again!  More than 4,500 locations around the country will serve as collection sites this year for the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child — the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind.

One of those locations is Trinity Friends Church in Van Wert. Trinity has been serving as a collection and packing site for over 12 years and is excited to be a facilitator for this program again this season.

During National Collection Week, November 14-21, anyone can donate shoeboxes — filled with school supplies, hygiene items, notes of encouragement and fun toys, such as a doll or soccer ball — for Operation Christmas Child to deliver to children in need around the world. This year, people around the United States, including Van Wert residents, hope to contribute 9.5 million shoebox gifts toward the 2017 global goal of reaching 12 million children.

“The shoebox gifts donated throughout the country at these drop-off locations will shine a light of hope to children living in poverty overseas,” said Randy Riddle, director of Operation Christmas Child in the United States. “Anyone is welcome to pack a shoebox and help a child facing difficult circumstances to feel loved and not forgotten.”

“It’s exciting to see people everywhere coming together to fill the needs of these children,” said Linda Bostelman, Trinity Friends’ Samaritan’s Purse project director. “It’s exciting to see it happen and to be part of making it happen. Of making the Light shine. We welcome anyone who wants to help.”

More than 150,000 volunteers, including families, churches, and other groups, are linking arms across the country to contribute to the largest Christmas project of its kind. In 2017, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach 12 million children, with 9.5 million coming from the United States.


POSTED: 10/16/17 at 7:20 am. FILED UNDER: Church

Submitted information

First Presbyterian Church of Van Wert announces that Cheryl Gigler has been hired as the new Chancel Choir director.

Gigler, a soprano, is a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. Her advanced vocal studies include work with Lili Chookasian of the Metropolitan Opera, Armen Boyagian, and Edwin MacArthur, as well as Vincent La Selva of the Juilliard School.

Cheryl Gigler

Gigler has sung professionally with the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, as well as in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Heartland Chamber Chorale of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She also has been a featured soloist with the Sterling Forest Renaissance Festival, Waldwick Symphony, and Rockland Symphony, as well as the Bach Collegium of Fort Wayne.

Gigler has also performed various roles with regional opera companies in the New York metropolitan area, including the New York Grand Opera.

In addition to performing, she is a certified music educator in Indiana, New York, and New Jersey. Gigler has directed and developed graded English handbell and choral programs in both public school and church settings, and has also served for many years as an adjunct professor of voice at Nyack College, Nyack, New York.

She is also a trained Stephen’s Minister and a certified life coach specializing in ADHD.

Gigler and the church extends an open invitation to all singers, age high school through adult, who enjoy singing to participate in the 2017-2018 Chancel Choir season.

All those involved share a love of bringing glory to God through music and Christian fellowship. The only requirement for participating is a desire to sing and be present for any Wednesday night rehearsal held at 7:15 p.m., and to perform with the choir during the 10 a.m. Sunday service.

The Chancel Choir performs regularly throughout the entire calendar year and frequently has guest soloists, instrumentalists, and ensembles during its Sunday morning worship services.

To learn more about First Presbyterian Church of Van Wert, its choir season, and how to participate, contact the church office at 419.238.3670 or

POSTED: 09/23/17 at 7:47 am. FILED UNDER: Church

United Way of Van Wert County Executive Director Vicki Smith made a presentation to the Convoy United Methodist Women’s group on Wednesday, September 6. She discussed the upcoming Day of Caring and the new “Community Hero” campaign theme. The group then donated $250 to the 2017 campaign. Without donations, United Way would not be able to affect its community the way it does. Shown are (from the left) Mary Ann Hall, Convoy UM Women treasurer; Smith; and Shelly Holden, Convoy UM Women president. (United Way photo)

POSTED: 09/09/17 at 8:03 am. FILED UNDER: Church, Lifestyles

Patti Cox

Submitted information

First United Methodist Preschool welcomes back Patti Cox as one of its pre-kindergarten teachers.

Mrs. Cox was hired in 2015 after teaching first grade at Lincolnview Local Schools for 37 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education, as well as a master’s degree in teacher leadership. Her education, combined with her experience, bring invaluable expertise to the First United Methodist Preschool team.

Those who would like to register a child for preschool can contact Administrator April Ellerbrock at 419.238.0631, extension 308, or register online at

POSTED: 07/30/17 at 10:39 pm. FILED UNDER: Church, Youth