When new Antioch Lutheran Church pastor David Vinciguerra was picking seminaries, the native Floridian had three choices, all in northern tier states.
"I figured Columbus (OH) would be the one with the mildest winter," said Vinciguerra. "My first call was in Rogers City (Michigan), and my third winter there, we got 144 inches of snow."
After spending a little more than 20 years at a church in Toledo, OH, Vinciguerra felt led to serve in a different place. He filled out a profile, as had Antioch church leaders. The two were matched by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) synod. After "a lot of conversations, a lot of prayer", Vinciguerra accepted the church's call and was installed in January.
"I saw that how I felt God was leading me would do well here as a match with where this congregation was and wanted to move from into their future," he said. "I saw myself as having gifts and qualities they were looking for."
Vinciguerra said the congregation aims to grow spiritually, as well as wanting to grow more in sharing that spirituality and welcoming others. "It's something they already do, but they want to become more aware ... and be more socially responsible in the community and the county," he said.
The church is one of 67 participating in the South Oakland Shelter program, which helps people who are homeless with temporary lodging and other services. "We want to see if there is more we can be doing as a congregation," Vinciguerra said. "The easy answer is 'yes'. The difficult part is, what is the way 'yes' can be of most benefit to the community."
While a 2012 Gallup poll showed church membership is declining around the country, Vinciguerra sees a distinction between membership and involvement. "I think people are more hesitant to join a congregation, but they are willing, if they find that place where people can use the gifts they have, to be a part of a congregation's mission," he said.
Vinciguerra holds degrees from Florida Technological University (now University of Central Florida) and Trinity Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbus. He and his wife, Jeni, have three adult children.
To learn more about Antioch Lutheran Church, visit antiochelca.org.
Share your church's events by posting them on the Patch calendar.