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Poland church celebrates 60 years and new minister

August 28, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

On Sept. 7 (Saturday) Bishop Abraham Allende from the Northeastern Ohio Synod will install Rev. Dawn Ritchie as Prince of Peace Lutheran Church's seventh minister. The following week, Sept., 15 will feature the 60th anniversary celebration of the church.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church held its first worship service in Poland on Aug. 2, 1959 in Poland Union School. The church was incorporated on Sept. 13, 1959 into the American Lutheran Church's Ohio District. The church continued to meet in Poland Union while making plans for a permanent church.

On July 24, 1960, ground was broken and on Nov. 13 of that year the corner stone was laid. The new building was dedicated on March 12, 1961, and an education wing was added in 1964. The outdoor pavilion was constructed in 2002, and will play a part in the anniversary celebration.

Article Photos

Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Rev. Dawn Richie will officially be installed as Prince of Peace Lutheran Church’s new pastor. The ceremony will take place on Sept. 7.

The celebration on Sept. 15 will see a huge 60th anniversary picnic under the pavilion after the 10 a.m. service.

Over the years, Prince of Peace, or POP as it has come to be known, had a half dozen ministers, with number seven, Rev. Dawn Richie, being officially installed on Sept. 7. She actually began her tenure on July 1.

Past ministers included Rev. Robert Trump (1959-1963), Rev. William Mercer (1964-1975), Rev. John Steingass (1975-1982), Rev. Bob Linsz (1983-1994), Rev. Rusty Wills (1995-2008), and Rev. Julianne Smith (2010-2018).

As for Rev. Richie, she grew up in the coal region of Western Pennsylvania, where she said "there was nothing close by."

She has been an ordained minister for 16 years and decided to retire.

"I retired from the church and came here to see what the next chapter of my life would be," she said. "I talked to the Bishop in January and said I was looking for something in a half or three-quarter time position. He handed me Prince of Peace."

It will be a special time for Rev. Richie as her daughter Rev. Rebecca Zielke serves as pastor of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Canfield.

Rev. Richie brings a lot of passion to Poland. In the two Pennsylvania churches she served in, she started a community lunch, improved the site area where the Agency of Aging held its senior lunches, created children and adult programs, and helped in ways she could within the communities the churches served.

Her professional education earned her an associate degree in social science and a bachelor degree in liberal studies, before she entered the seminary. She graduated from Moravian Theological Seminary in 2003 with a Master's of Divinity degree, with courses from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philedelphia, Pa.

As for inviting people to POP, Rev. Richie said, "If you are looking for a church, this church has the nicest people and does the most wonderful things."



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