Outdoors enthusiasts head inside for Wild Game Dinner

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They came.

They saw.

They ate.

And ate.

And then ate some more.

Yep, the Wild Game Dinner returned to Pathway Church on Friday night and, as in years past, the food was at the forefront — including one dish, in particular.

“The venison chili went over very, very well,” said Cory St. Esprit, Outreach Coordinator at Pathway.

Other popular entrées were wild boar sliders, pheasant, rabbit pasta alfredo, and fried fish.

Prior to dinner, there were seminars on fly fishing, deer hunting, and ice fishing. Vendors also gave away plenty of prizes during the night such as a crossbow, a muzzleloader, a fly fishing guided trip, a kayak and gift cards.

“It was very unique to see a bunch of taxidermied deer mounts in the café on a nice display with a camo-clad crowd at all of the tables,” Cory explained. “It was a great opportunity for us to reach out to men and women in such an outdoors-minded area as ours.”

Jim Skal, founder of Outdoor Immersion, capped the evening as he shared stories about his ministry to veterans and how to utilize God's creation to reach hurting adults and children.

“Many visitors remarked about Jim’s talk,” Cory recalled. “They all told me it was great.”

Cory said he was just as impressed with each volunteer who helped to make the evening so special. He said eight volunteers had been meeting since April to plan the event, and more than 100 volunteer hours went into the cooking alone. About 20 people showed up on Friday night to assist with last-minute details.

“People from all around Pathway came out to help in the kitchen, set up, tear down, and just enjoy meeting new faces,” he explained. “I can’t thank them enough.”

Now that the dinner is back, Cory believes even better days are ahead.

“We look forward to continuing to see it grow over the next couple of years,” he offered. “We’re already excited for the next one.”



Pathway Café has big opening weekend, bigger vision

Click on this photo to see more images from the Pathway Café grand opening.

 

In front of the counter, it looked pretty much like any other coffee house.

A pair of teen-age girls giggled as they pointed to their phones.

To their right, a mother stood near the cooler and asked her preschooler: “Would you like a fruit cup or a yogurt pouch?”

A few feet away, a young couple chatted as they waited on their Mocha order.

And at a nearby table, an older gentlemen smiled as his grandson sipped his chocolate milk.

A typical scene at a typical coffee shop across America?

Maybe, if a coffee shop inside a church were typical.


‘IT’S A PROCESS’

The aroma is what gets you first.

Robust and alluring. You can detect it from 50 yards away in any direction.

“The church smells great, doesn’t it?” asked John Westurn, Executive Pastor at Pathway Church. “Even if you don’t drink coffee, it’s very powerful.”

Sunday, September 9, 8:30 a.m.

That’s the day, date and time the new Pathway Café officially began welcoming customers. And they came in droves. Throughout the morning, a steady line of visitors purchased everything from baked goods, to bottled water, to freshly cut fruit cups. But what they really desired was coffee. Not just any coffee, mind you. They wanted the Pathway Blend, and nearly 250 cups were brewed.

“How many churches can say they have their own coffee blend?” asked Café Director Elisa Martin. She smiled and adjusted her slate gray apron that features the Pathway Café logo.

Elisa explained how the house blend was created by a team of “coffee snobs” in the church, who offered a thumbs-down to countless others they had experimented with over a period of months.

“We finally decided on a five-bean espresso blend from Colombia,” she explained. “All of our coffee is from Colombia. And it’s very good.”

Pastor John agreed.

“Not that our coffee was awful in the old café. It’s just phenomenal now.”

Throughout the morning, Elisa had been busy operating the espresso machine behind the counter, as six other team members filled their roles. Each shift features:

•A barista who makes the coffee

•A cashier (who now accepts credit cards or cash)

•A prep person 

•Someone who takes orders

•And someone who oversees the baked goods.

Depending on their job, volunteers received up to 10 hours of training before the café went live over the weekend. Overall, Elisa leads a team of 40.

“We spent hours at other coffee shops,” she noted. “We studied their pricing and their best practices.”

“There will be a learning curve,” Pastor John added,” and it will be a process. But we’re excited about what’s ahead.”


THE PLACE TO BE

And Pastor John is hoping what’s ahead could be big. He believes the café can have the same unique drawing power as the Playland in the children’s wing, which has attracted dozens of families who hadn’t set foot inside of the church before.

“We want it to be an inviting place for people who don’t know Christ, as well as those who do.”

The café features soft lighting, rustic flooring, and large monitors on which visitors can watch the worship services in real time. 

The area seats 100, and between services on opening day, nearly all of the 21 tables were occupied. Pastor John explained that even more “soft seating,” such as comfy chairs and couches, are on the way.

Items offered are scrawled on a chalkboard above the counter. Besides the main blend, there are specialty Mocha, Americano, Latté and espresso drinks, a variety of tasty treats that are baked fresh, as well as yogurts and parfaits.

All proceeds benefit refugees around the globe.

Elisa stressed that all the cups and straws are eco friendly.

“All of them come from the earth and go back to the earth.”

The café will be open three days a week to start: 

•Saturdays — 5:45 to 7:15 p.m.

•Sundays — 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

•Wednesdays — 6:30 to 8:30pm

“We think Wednesdays could be a big night,” Elisa noted. “Awana and youth group really aren’t that long, and a lot of parents like to stay at the church and wait for their kids. They can have a cup of coffee and meet with friends, read a book, or do some work on their laptop.”

She, too, hopes the café becomes the place to go for the entire community — whether they’re connected to our church or not.

“We want this to be a welcoming, inviting space for a great cup of coffee and some great conversation with friends,” Elisa continued, gesturing to the activity around her. “There’s really no place in Chippewa where you can do that on a Sunday morning. We want to be that place.”

Based on the opening weekend, it’s off to a pretty great start.

 

Brandon Fowler: He left the comfort of home to step forward

 Pastor Jeff baptizes Brandon Fowler on Easter Sunday.

Pastor Jeff baptizes Brandon Fowler on Easter Sunday.

(Testimony Tuesday: This is another in a series of stories on Pathway attenders who were baptized spontaneously on Easter Sunday.)

 

Brandon Fowler was just getting comfortable.

Maybe a little too comfortable.

“I was actually at home the morning of Easter Sunday. I was watching the live service of Elevation Church,” he recalled.

Brandon explained that his wife, Dawn, is a respiratory therapist and works 12-hour shifts every other weekend at McGuire Memorial Home in New Brighton. On those weekends, it can be difficult for Brandon to pack up his boys — Joshua, 3, and Owen, 2 — and head to church, so he’ll occasionally watch services online.

But not this day. 

“I’m sitting there and I thought, ‘There’s no reason why I can’t get myself and the boys out the door and to church.’ ”

So he corralled them and left their Brighton Township home. Little did Brandon know that God had something special in store for him at Pathway.

“The boys usually struggle with us leaving them in the children’s wing,” he continued. “But on Easter they went straight in. It was quite surprising.”

Or just part of a bigger plan.

 

A SENSE OF PEACE

Fast-forward an hour or so and Brandon Fowler is getting uncomfortable.

Extremely uncomfortable.

“I’m sitting in my seat at the service and Pastor Jeff starts talking about baptism. I could barely sit still. I kept tapping my foot and squirming. There were visitors sitting next to me and they probably thought I was crazy,” he said, laughing. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to go up there. I’ve got to go and make this happen.’ ”

So he did. 

And with each step he took toward the backstage area, the more peace he felt.

“When I got back there, I was so much more at ease,” he explained. “It all made sense at the moment.”

Brandon, 32, revealed that he had been a Christian for “as long as I can remember.” His grandfather had been a deacon, and his family attended services together at Bible Baptist Church in New Sewickley. 

“My faith has always been a very sure thing for me. I don’t have a dramatic reckoning story.”

He had considered being baptized in the past, but the timing had never felt right.

Until it did.

 

OUT OF CONTROL

After Brandon dried off and picked up his kids, he couldn’t wait to share the news with his family and friends.

“I was very excited to tell my grandfather — he’s the best man I know,” Brandon said. “My mom had tears in her eyes. My grandfather had tears in his eyes.”

And then there was his wife.

Brandon chuckled before explaining how that conversation went down.

“She was like, ‘What? You got baptized? I wasn’t there.’ ”

But once Brandon relayed the entire story, she was thrilled for him.

“I had no plans to do it that day,” he added, “but it was long past due.”

Brandon is a project manager for Horizon Information Services and he is used to discovering solutions in the tiniest details. Yet that doesn’t always translate when the workday ends, he admitted.

“I struggle with control, and I feel like that’s my approach to my relationship with God,” he said. “I need to give it up.”

And for one very special day, he did.

“It was not of me and it wasn’t my timing,” Brandon said of his baptism. “It was pretty wild and amazing.”

 

Harry Snyder: From drug use and crime to a journey of faith

 Pastor Jeff baptizes Harry Snyder on Easter Sunday.      

Pastor Jeff baptizes Harry Snyder on Easter Sunday.

 

 

(Testimony Tuesday: This is another in a series of stories on Pathway attenders who were baptized spontaneously on Easter Sunday.)

 

Two words describe Harry Snyder’s teenage years: In and out.

Of a drunken stupor.

Of a drug-induced haze.

Of homes while committing burglaries.

Of juvenile detention facilities.

Of stints in rehab centers.

“I really didn’t expect to live past 17 or 18,” he reflected. “That’s the road I was on. Something had to change.”

It was time for Harry Snyder to go all in.

And come out as a changed man.

 

SORDID PAST

Harry grew up “in the sticks,” about a half-hour north of Butler. As an avowed atheist, he didn’t believe in God, but he did believe his older brother’s lifestyle was right for him to follow, too.

It was a seductive cocktail of substance abuse mixed with petty crimes to sustain the habit.

“My brother is 13 years older than me and he was in and out of prison all the time,” Harry explained. “He was addicted to drugs and he brought me into that lifestyle.”

Harry’s drug use started with smoking weed at age 14 and reached its zenith a couple of years ago when he began shooting up heroin.

“I was doing it all,” he remembered. “I started using a needle, selling drugs, committing crimes. It all caught up with me.”

During a stay in a juvenile detention center, Harry was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous, and in the process, he became more open to hearing about God.

Not long afterward he met his girlfriend, Katie Duffy, and she invited him to attend Pathway Church with her.

“I started to become aware that there was something different about followers of Christ. I wanted that.”

 

TRUSTING JESUS

During a visit to Pathway, Harry met Executive Pastor John Westurn and subsequently moved in with Pastor John and his wife, Michele. Harry began attending Community College of Beaver County and, on Tuesday nights, he joined the Westurns’ small group.

Diane Brosius also is in that small group. And one night when Harry was feeling particularly down, he texted Diane and she came over to pray with him. He accepted Christ that evening.

A few weeks ago, Harry made his faith public when he entered the waters of baptism during the 10:45am service on Easter Sunday.

“Never in a million years did I imagine getting baptized,” he said. “I was kind of nervous being in front of all the people, but it was an exciting day for me. It’s definitely a landmark in my spiritual journey.”

Harry, now 22, lives in Beaver Falls and works for the Tiger Pause youth ministry. He hopes to return to school in the fall and then marry the young lady who brought him to Pathway. He’s got other plans for his future as well.

“I want to start a family and be of service to God — primarily youth.”

He paused for several seconds before continuing.

“It’s hard to explain but life is just better now. I have more freedom,” he offered.

“I just want to experience the joy of salvation and live it out.”

Tired of his former life, Bill Smith refused to take it sitting down

  Bill Smith is baptized by Pastor Jeff on Easter Sunday.

 Bill Smith is baptized by Pastor Jeff on Easter Sunday.

(Testimony Tuesday: This is the second in a series of stories on Pathway attenders who were baptized spontaneously on Easter Sunday.)
 

Bill Smith was tired of sitting.
As a truck driver for Lindy Paving, that’s pretty much what he does all day. Then when he arrives home after 10-hour shifts, he’s so spent he plops on the couch to sit some more.
But on Easter Sunday, he’d had enough. It was time to make a stand.
“I said to myself, ‘OK, this it.’ I wanted to do it right then.’ ”
So that morning, Bill stood up during the 9am service. Then he walked backstage to change his clothes for a life-altering moment — he was going to be baptized after responding to Pastor Jeff’s invitation from the stage.
Bill said the seed was planted by his wife, Ana, after the Good Friday service they attended.
“I had actually been thinking about it for a few weeks,” the Center Township resident explained. “Then I don’t why, but my wife asked Pastor Jeff about me being baptized.”
Bill said he was raised in the Free Methodist Church, but had never entered the waters of baptism. He began attending Pathway Church in 2010 at the invitation of a friend, Richard Lawson.
“I came to faith as a kid,” he remembered, “but I backslid as I got older — especially when I was in the Army. I started drinking a lot and partying. I wanted to be cool and be one of the guys.”
Bill said he continued partying hard long after his discharge — and through two subsequent marriages. He believed in God, but not enough to change his ways.
“About six years ago, it finally sunk in. I stopped drinking and swearing. I changed my life totally around.”
And he took another huge step of faith when he was baptized on Easter morning.
“It seemed like I died and went to heaven that day — even though I almost drowned,” he said, laughing.
Bill quickly grew pensive.
“You know, I feel a lot lighter now, like God is working in miraculous ways,” he continued. “I’ve put my life in God’s hands. I know He has a plan for me and I’m going to trust Him.”
And he’ll do it whether he’s sitting down. 
Or standing up for what he believes in.

 

 

With a helping hand, Cory St. Esprit takes bold step of faith

 Pastor Jeff baptizes Cory St. Esprit on Easter Sunday.

Pastor Jeff baptizes Cory St. Esprit on Easter Sunday.

 

(Testimony Tuesday: This is the first in a weekly series of stories on Pathway Church attenders who entered the waters of baptism spontaneously during Easter weekend. Today: Meet Cory St. Esprit, our Director of Outreach.)
 

The hand.

To this day, Cory St. Esprit still doesn’t know whose hand was on his shoulder the night he gave his life to Christ.

That was September 12, 2001.

“It was the day after 9/11 and the church I had been attending had a candlelight service. I had gone up to the prayer rail, and a stranger had put his hand on my shoulder. We had been singing ‘Shout to the Lord,’ and I knew at that point I couldn’t do life alone anymore.”

Fast-forward to April 1, 2018. Easter Sunday. 

Pastor Jeff had extended an invitation for anyone to come up and be baptized. Cory knew it was time.

“I had become a Christian when I was 15. My church back then really didn’t push baptism, so I hadn’t given it much thought.”

Yet after Cory had witnessed his twin bother be baptized a few years ago, he began to pray about the act of obedience in his own life.

But he would always find a reason to avoid it.

“With each passing year, it became more awkward. I would think, ‘It’s already been 16 years. I’m on staff at the church. That would look pretty weird.’ ”

Even after Pastor Jeff had made the announcement from the stage, Cory admitted that his first thought was, “I don’t have the clothes for it.’ ”

Pastor Jeff’s next sentence sealed the deal.

“Then he said, ‘And we even have clothes for you.’ ”

Cory laid his cell phone in his wife’s lap and made his way backstage.

“I saw Jeff and he embraced me. He said, ‘My brother.’ ”

Afterward, Cory said he felt calm and refreshed.

“I’ve been at three other churches, and this one feels like home.”
In 2001, a stranger was with Cory when he gave his life to Christ. This time, he knew exactly whose hand was guiding him.
“It felt like the exact right point to be baptized,” Cory explained. “I’ve really seen God’s hand at work in my life.”

Jenna Hannum, Dave Layton assume new roles

Jenna_and_Dave_-_Church_Hirings.jpg


What an exciting time for our congregation! It’s incredible to see what the Lord is doing in our church! From the new children’s wing to the ongoing work throughout our building, there is much to look forward to in the days ahead.

And we’re thrilled to announce the filling of two leadership positions to help guide our church into our bright future.
 

JENNA HANNUM
Women’s Ministry Director

Jenna has been on staff at Pathway for almost a year as an administrative assistant to Children’s Ministry Director Susie Best. She also leads and serves on the special needs ministry team, volunteers as a coordinator of MOPS, and is a small-group leader in our women’s Bible study. In those roles Jenna has amassed a wealth of experience in leadership, overseeing ministry work, making key decisions, and meeting the needs of parents and children alike. She is a great fit to lead our women’s ministry! Jenna will assume her new role on April 2.
 

DAVE LAYTON,
Classic Service Host

Dave has attended Pathway Church for more than 30 years, and he currently serves as chair of the Elder board. Dave’s passion for the Lord, along with his years of service in ministry, make him an excellent choice for his new role.

***

 Thank you all for your many prayers during this time of transition. Our church is growing rapidly, and Pathway has been blessed beyond measure with leaders to serve you. The renovations will be completed soon, so please join us as we praise God for all He is doing in our midst.
 

As Paul states in Ephesians 3:20: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine …” 
 

We can’t wait to see how our Heavenly Father will use Jenna and Dave to grow the kingdom here at Pathway and throughout Beaver County — in more ways than we could ever imagine. Thank you for being a part of our church family!

— Pastor John Westurn

 

Vinciks ready for full-time mission work in the Dominican Republic

  The Vincik family, from left: Faye, Christian, Jake and Luke. — Photo by Sally Kolodziej

The Vincik family, from left: Faye, Christian, Jake and Luke. — Photo by Sally Kolodziej

 

 

BY TIM KOLODZIEJ
For Pathway Church

 

So there they were, lounging on a beach in Clearwater, Fla.
Dazzling sunlight. A gentle breeze. Waves rolling through the sand and over their feet.
As couples often do, Faye and Jake Vincik gazed out into the limitless ocean view and imagined their family’s future together. After all, it wouldn’t be long before their two boys, Christian and Luke, would begin attending school.
At least that’s what Jake thought.
“Faye said something like, ‘We’ll have to home-school in the Dominican Republic,’ ” he recalled.
Wait … what?
To be clear, Jake had asked Faye to relocate to the DR many times over the past fews years, but her answer was always the same — no. So hearing her latest response left him in a state of euphoria. Not that he wanted anyone to know.
“I was playing it cool,” he said, laughing. “But in my mind I was doing back flips, saving a person in the water and swimming with the dolphins. That’s how good it felt.”
These days, Jake’s right arm is still a little weak following rotator cuff surgery, so it’s doubtful he will be doing back flips any time soon. But next month, Jake, Faye, Christian and Luke will board a plane for the tiny island an hour south of Miami.
And the one-way tickets they’ve purchased are proof of their commitment to do God’s work in the village of La Higuera.
“If I had to describe the past few months with one word,” Jake offered, “it would be ‘Unreal.’ ”
He grinned.
“Pathway has ‘ALL IN.’ We have ‘Unreal.’ ”
 

IGNITING THE FLAME ...

Jake visited the Dominican Republic for the first time in January of 2010 with Hope for Hispaniola, which has taken short-term trips to the DR since 2000. Matt Henderson is the mission’s founder and met the Vinciks at Pathway Church.
“I really don’t know why I went the first time,” Jake admitted. “I didn’t know if it was to check it off a list or if it was a true desire. Within two days there, God revealed a bunch of stuff to me.”
Six months later, Jake went again. Then again. And …
“I knew it was where God wanted me to be.”
He persuaded his wife to join him for the first time in May of 2013.
Then Jake began asking Faye to move to the DR with the intention of becoming full-time missionaries. She was actually receptive to the idea — once they hit retirement age.
“She didn’t think I meant now,” he said, laughing.
So Jake continued to go alone, then began to extend the week-long trips to two weeks, thinking that would make him happy.
It didn’t.
“I’ll be honest, I was feeling depressed,” he explained. “I asked God, ‘Why would you burden me and not my wife?’ ”
But that was before Faye’s revelation on the beach.
So, why the change of heart?
“When we visited the DR together, I could see Jake’s heart for the people,” Faye explained. “It was all God when we went down last year. Jake thrived there. Seeing him in action with the children, I knew we belonged there.”
Christian, now 7, and Luke, 4, are both excited for their family’s upcoming adventure. Faye will continue to home-school the boys in their new surroundings.
“At first, I was really concerned about raising a family and the education down there,” she said. “I never thought I’d be a home-schooling mom. But a lot of my friends here really helped me and it’s gone very well with Christian so far. I know this is what we are supposed to be doing.”
Jake agreed.
“I was looking for something to be called to. I just want to be obedient and give God more of me.”
 

COUNTING THE DAYS ...
 

January 14, 2018.
Jake has had their departure date circled on his calendar for quite some time now. Hope for Hispaniola started a school in La Higuera about 10 years ago, and the Vinciks can’t wait to begin teaching English there at night.
Faye explained that when the students learn English, they have a much greater chance of securing a job at resorts that pay a decent wage.
In addition to his teaching role, Jake also will oversee building maintenance at the school and will spearhead an effort to get the building’s water purification system operating again.
“Clean water is a hindrance in the Dominican Republic,” Faye said. “Getting the water purification system up and running again would be a huge blessing.”
But first, the Vinciks must take care of business here at home.
Jake is now in the process of liquidating his thriving construction business. He’s already sold his truck, and will begin selling off his tools once a few final jobs are completed.
An even bigger priority, he said, is securing relationships with prayer and financial partners.
The Vinciks are asking for prayer in three specific areas:
•To keep the family free from illness and doubt as the departure date nears
•To keep their marriage strong
•And to achieve closure here in Beaver County in a responsible way.
Financially, the Vinciks are still working toward the goal of $20,000 as a sending fund, and ask that you prayerfully consider a recurring or one-time gift to assist their mission.
Though he admits to feeling overwhelmed at times, Jake remembers that the mission extends well beyond human capacity.
“You don’t have to be tremendously gifted or skilled to make an impact for God,” he stressed. “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”
He paused to adjust the sling on his arm.
“My dream is for us to help save a lot of people and grow old there,” he continued. “We’re willing and available, and God is honoring that. We just have to trust that His power will work through us.”
 

(To contribute to the Vincik Family Missions fund, contact Jake directly at jake_vincik@yahoo.com, or go to hopeforhispaniola.org, then scroll down the homepage to see their section.)

Pathway has grand opening for new children's wing

Click on the image above to advance the photo gallery and see more pictures. All photographs by Roy Price.

 

 

BY TIM KOLODZIEJ

For Pathway Church

 

From a distance, it looked as if a fair had broken out.

OK, at least a pretty massive block party.

Either way, the crowd was growing by the minute. More than a half-hour before the scheduled start time, dozens of families had already assembled in the parking lot of Pathway Church. Though Thanksgiving is less than a month away, children wearing T-shirts and shorts munched on hot dogs as they lounged at outdoor tables. Nearby, a warm and gentle breeze kept colorful bundles of balloons dancing in all directions.

Sure, the snacks were satisfying and the weather was wonderful, but make no mistake — the kids came to play.

And they didn’t stop until it was time to go home.

After years of praying and planning, then several more months of construction, Pathway celebrated the grand opening of its multimillion-dollar children’s wing on Friday night. Hundreds of curious visitors turned out to tour and explore the 23,400-square-foot structure. 

The first floor features an indoor playland, classrooms, a computerized check-in area and toddler-sized restrooms with tiny toilets and sinks. The second floor offers a multipurpose room with a huge video screen, additional classrooms, and an area dedicated to children with special needs.

Tracy Yowler is a member of the special needs team who helped design that space.

“I know there is a need for this in Beaver County,” she said. “I can't wait to see how God uses this ministry to serve children with special needs and their families." 

The event began with remarks from Jeff McNicol, senior pastor at Pathway. He then directed the crowd’s attention to a pair of large-screen televisions, which featured a video describing the new building. 

Following a moment of prayer, children’s ministry director Susie Best knelt in front of a huge red ribbon as youngsters from Pathway Kids lifted their scissors.

“In case you’re wondering, they’re child-safe scissors,” McNicol quipped.

“OK, are you ready?” Best asked them. “On your mark, get set, go!”

Snip, snip, hooray.

“The building is open!” McNicol shouted to raucous applause. “Enjoy it!”

As visitors walked the halls they couldn’t help but marvel at the vibrant walls — each covered with imaginative and colorful imagery.

“These are very exciting times at Pathway,” McNicol explained.

He smiled broadly, then turned toward the children climbing, swinging and sliding in the playland.

“We couldn’t be more excited.”

 And neither could they.