Pastor remembered for sharing God’s love with others
Rodney Lingenfelter led Grace Fellowship Church in Juniata
Locals are remembering the love spread through God by a local pastor who died earlier this week.
Rodney Lynn Lingenfelter, a pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Juniata, died in a mowing accident at his Roaring Spring home Wednesday. He was 71 years old.
Family and church members commented on the love, grace, warmth and light Rodney brought to the congregation as a pastor.
“He showed me how to love and to love well,” his daughter, Michelle Mauk, said.
She described her father as a great testimony of faith and a man who loved his savior, Jesus Christ, and his church.
His son, Mark Lingenfelter, pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Leamersville, said the most valuable lesson his father taught him was to love God and others.
“I want people to know, who don’t know him, that he was genuine and authentic in his love and faith,” Mark said of his father. “He was genuinely loving and authentic and a man of faith in every setting.”
Michelle noted how the Juniata church had been struggling with financial difficulties and a shrinking congregation, but due to Rodney’s outreach efforts, the church is starting to grow and thrive.
Although retired, Michelle said her father did not want to quit as pastor of the church and leave the next pastor with a dying church.
For the last seven or eight years, Mark and Rodney worked to bring new life into the Juniata congregation, which Mark called a special time to do ministry with his father. He added that the congregation is moving in a positive direction.
Vicki Pike has been part of Grace Fellowship Church in Juniata for the last 11 years. She said while looking for a new church, she felt at home when she heard Rodney speak, prompting her to join the congregation.
To her, Rodney was a wonderful human being with a kind heart, full of encouragement and wisdom.
The church, Pike said, has a feeling of warmth and friendliness, a trickle-down effect from Rodney when he was pastor.
Outside of the church, Mark said he can recall the moments when his father attended his baseball games, when the two of them went hunting and target shooting together and the time they visited Mississippi to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Michelle said she can remember when Rodney broke his hip the day before her wedding and how he refused to go see a doctor because he wanted to walk her down the aisle. She also recalled how she would hold onto his pinky finger when she was a little girl.
The 1969 Juniata College graduate and 1965 Central High School graduate served in U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, stationed at Fort Meade. For 25 years, Rodney worked as a controller for Windless in Altoona and held numerous leadership roles at Grace Fellowship Church in Leamersville.
He also served as a pastor at Johnstown Grace Brethren Church before serving as pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Juniata for 19 years.
A longstanding member of the church, Arthur “Jerry” Stevens, said Rodney had a great influence on his church community and taught members that Jesus is a savior with everlasting light. Stevens added Rodney was a good father and grandfather who had adopted two of his children, Corrie and Spencer, and gave them a home.
He said Rodney’s family will see him again and asked for God’s blessing for them.
Mark said he will continue working on his father’s goal of growing the church, with a vision to increase the congregation to 200 people by 2024. The congregation now has 80 to 90 people.
Friends of Rodney and his family can visit Grace Fellowship Church in Juniata from 2 and 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday.
The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the church. Mark will officiate the service. Burial will be at Alto-Reste Park.
Surviving Rodney are his wife, Janet Kluk; a sister, Barbara Brumbaugh, his four children, two stepchildren, Renae Kluk Kiehl and John Kluk; and five grandchildren.
Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan is at 946-7457.