Emmanuel United Church of Christ in Dorrance officially welcomed a new pastor on January 15 as Pastor Lou Aita became the 24th pastor to serve Emmanuel UCC in its 148 year history.
Founded in 1869, Emmanuel UCC is a congregation of 290 members and is affiliated with Penn Northeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. The United Church of Christ is a Protestant Christian denomination with a mixture of Old German Reformed Church and Congregationalism (Pilgrims), incorporated in 1957. The UCC is very involved in the communities of their congregations and around the world through missions that help spread peace and justice. Emmanuel UCC in Dorrance is very much a part of that overall mission.
“My initial impression is that this congregation is a very strong body of belief in the goodness of Christ and I hope to continue the good that is already in place,” said Pastor Aita “I love how hard everybody works, which is so important as visibility in the community is very important to us. “
Pastor Aita relates he is very pleased with the current work of his congregation, citing children’s programs and confirmation classes that are already in place. He noted that part of his new ministry will be to support to his best ability what the congregation is already doing, such as operating a local food bank and emergency monetary fund for those in need, and hopes to start an adult Bible study.
Pastor Aita’s involvement with the United Church of Christ started with music. Holding a Bachelors degree in Music Education from Misercordia University and having spent three years in the service of the U. S. Army as pianist for the 389th Jazz Band, he started playing the organ for Faith UCC in Hazleton in 1992. He grew to love the church and the people there, joined the church, and began taking classes toward licensure as a minister under the mentorship of Reverend Dr. Jane Hess. After serving as assistant pastor for six years, Aita decided to take on the task of his own church and became pastor of the Nuremburg Charge for the next seven years, which included Emmanuel UCC in Nuremburg, Rock Glenn Trinity UCC and St. Peters UCC in Beaver Valley which was shared with a Lutheran congregation.
After suffering a stroke and completing the recovery process, Pastor Aita remarked that being in charge of three churches had become a difficult pace to maintain. He answered an advertisement on the UCC website for Emmanuel UCC as it was much closer to his home. While the stroke did not affect his ability to minister to the people of his congregations, Aita has acknowledged that the experience has made him a better minister.
“I know what it’s like now to be handicapped, to be in the hospital for a long period of time,” explained the pastor. “I used to visit people and pray and laugh with them and mourn with them, but I never fully understood what it was like to be like them.”
“You think you know until you’re in that position; until you’re vulnerable and then you realize it’s all a process that you go through that you question a lot of things” continued Pastor Aita .“It really is a test of faith.”
He sees the experience as a process that has made him a better minister and a stronger person. Pastor Aita added that he was reminded to be empathetic to everyone, to not become complacent and to put his faith in God. “You can blame God and ask ‘why me’, but there is illness and challenge in the world and when that happens we ask God to be with us and see us. God is making you into something different, so you have a new challenge.”
Pastor Aita said that he wishes to bring discipleship to his new congregation, and continue to learn about himself and his faith through others –something he describes as the best part of being a pastor.
“I believe in running a simple church -if you want to learn about the faith and what it means to be a mature Christian, this is the place to do that.” explained Aita. “Wherever you are on life’s journey you are welcome here. Nobody has to change who they are. We are an open, accepting welcoming church.”
Pastor Lou Aita will be joined by his wife, Traci, step-daughters Katie and Alli Kadelak, daughter Antonia, and a son Nicholas. The congregation of Emmanuel UCC worships on Sundays at 10:30 at the corner of Alberdeen Road and Blue Ridge Trail.
You can find out more at www.ucc.orgor call the church office at 570-868-5675