Shepherding: a Continuing Career
by Carol Sones Shetler
Among those rocks and rills, the woods and templed hills at Gordner’s Grove near Unityville, the ordination and installation of the Rev. Ronald Grant Montgomery took place Saturday, Dec. 13, at St. John Lutheran Church.
Administering the charge was the Rev. Robert L. Driesen, Bishop of the Upper Susquehanna Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
All hearts with rapture filled as 180 assembled to witness the solemn occasion.
Bishop Driesen repeated the Biblical words from the book of John where Jesus admonished a disciple to ‘feed my sheep.’ Rev. Montgomery answered, “I will, and I ask God to help me,” when asked to assume the office of pastor; preach and teach in accordance with Holy Scripture; pray for and nourish God’s people; and lead by example.
The prelude to this day began in the mid 1980s when Montgomery first thought about becoming a pastor. “The appropriate time came about five years ago when I studied and became commissioned as an authorized lay worship leader. This intensive program led to my heeding God’s call a little over two years ago,” Montgomery said.
The Rev. Robert McEllroy II of Bendersville is credited with seeing the spark of faith in Montgomery, gave encouragement and became his mentor. Invaluable guidance was also shared by the Rev. Deane S. Shively, interim pastor at St. John.
“It seems I was always involved in church work,” recalled the now full-fledged minister. A 1960 graduate of Hughesville High School and later Lycoming College, the Montgomerys resided in Michigan where he’d served on a United Methodist Church board during their 10-year duration there.
Moving to Maryland in 1974, at St. Paul-Utica, the lay minister served 25 years as council member, was council president; presided over a joint parish council, taught Sunday school and was a member of the choir. He’d also been a delegate to the Delaware-Maryland Synod Assembly.
Retiring from a career in the pharmaceutical industry, in 2002 Montgomery returned to his native area and boyhood church; Hughesville and Trinity Lutheran. Here he completed a council term, taught a Sunday school class of senior high students and substituted for the Leona Albeck Bible Class. During this time he also sang in the choir and served as lay leader.
As a young man, Montgomery attained distinction as an Eagle Scout. He credits scouting with “instilling a sense of right and wrong which helps clear the moral compass.”
Members of Rev. Montgomery’s family participating in Saturday’s service included choir member and wife, the former Eileen Hall. Presenting scriptures were the couple’s children; Jill N. Berrong of Durham, NC; Jodi A. Davis of Wilmington, NC and Scott R. Montgomery, Monrovia, MD.
St John’s choir accompanied by pianist Gail Lutz was among three groups presenting musical selections. They included Elva Gordner Whitmoyer, Louise Gordner Jordan, Joanne Gordner Mausteller, Dorothy Ploch Gordner, Miss Debbie Hilner, Amber Leighow Johnson, Anita Leighow Houseknecht, Miss Pat Gordner and Mrs. Ruthe May, the latter serving as organist.
Sounding out in harmony was Hughesville’s Trinity Lutheran ‘Sons of Thunder’ led by director/pianist James R. Ritter and featuring the voices of Jeff Bower, Tom Secules, David Waltz and Barry Hodge.
A special surprise to the inductee was a selection by daughter and flutist Jodi Davis, son-in-law Bill as guitarist and song by granddaughters Kaitlin and Sarah Davis.
On behalf of the St. John Church family, counsel gifted the pastor with four embroidered stoles to be worn over vestments during specific holiday services.
Current council members include Keith Gordner, president; Richard Whitmoyer, vice president; Janis Reeser, treasurer; Miss Patricia Gordner, secretary; and Dottie Grocott.
It was 1890 when the St. John congregation established a church just east of Lore’s Corners. A new edifice was built and dedicated in 1976 following destruction by an arson fire in 1973.
Presently above the spire, a cross points skyward while wooden beams holding the structure are cemented firmly into the ground.
Just as firm and rooted is the fervor of St. John’s pastor Montgomery, council and congregation at addressing the mission in the community they serve.
There among the rocks and rills, the woods and templed hills, they will continue shepherding humanity protected by the might of their Great God and King.