The Rev. Jennett Wertz has been serving as a United Methodist minister in Altoona for about a year.
She is the pastor at Garden Heights United Methodist Church, 109 Bellview St., Altoona; and Lakemont United Methodist Church, 340 Lotz Ave., Altoona
An informal worship service is held at 8 a.m. and worship with children's church is at 9:15 a.m. Sundays at Garden Heights United Methodist Church. Lakemont United Methodist Church holds worship at 10:45 a.m. and Sunday school at 9:30 a.m. Sundays.
The Mirror asked her the following questions about her work:
What is the most interesting aspect of your work?
It is being invited to share in the faith journey of the congregations. It is awesome to be present together as we learn to form the questions of faith and discover the presence of God in the midst of our lives.
I love sharing the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus and helping others see God's love poured out for them. I hope as we gather together, we find a safe place to ask our questions which the Spirit of God uses to draw us closer to the Creator God and one another.
I am always amazed that God allows us to participate in his creative work. What a privilege it is to witness people alive in Christ growing in faith, living and working together, not only for us, but continually working to extend God's mercy and justice to all peoples.
What is your favorite Scripture verse and why?
I would have to say Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
This verse is an encouragement in difficult situations when I do not feel I have the ability to persevere. It reminds me that I have God's strength available.
This verse first sustained me when my father and mother and I were stranded in Nebraska on a cross-county road trip. My father was hospitalized, and I would recite this verse aloud every morning. Each day as we faced many decisions and uncertainties, we found strength beyond our abilities. We also were surrounded by caring, faithful people helping and encouraging us. I always remember that experience when I read this verse.
In ministry, I have used it often. When I think of it, I know that although God calls me to participate and witness God's work in the world, the work is ultimately God's responsibility.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I want to say, "Duck!" Actually, it would have to be "Never take yourself too seriously."
In terms of my faith journey, I recall, "Following Jesus is such an amazing adventure, make sure you hang on tightly to him and just go!"
In what ways do you reach out to the community?
I hope we are creating communities that are hospitable and open to persons seeking places to ask questions and discover Christ's love and grace. We are called to represent hope to individuals and our communities. I especially believe this is seen and worked out as we have opportunities to work together.
I am interested in interfaith and ecumenical dialogue that helps us to learn from one another. Thereby, we have the possibility of living and working together in peaceful understanding for our common needs. I am active with the Greater Altoona Ecumenical Conference and its Interfaith and Social Justice committees.
I am very impressed with the Matter of Faith summer series in Altoona for many years. This year, many people in the community used the prayer labyrinth at Garden Heights.
I also am happy to be working with the people of Garden Heights Park Association on the revitalization of the neighborhood playground. We have wonderful plans under way and many people in the community, especially young people, interested in the project.
Lakemont Church is regularly helping at our Mission Central HUB in Altoona, which collects and distributes needed items locally and worldwide through Mission Central in Mechanicsburg. Last year, Lakemont partnered with the fire department for a Halloween party, which we hope to continue this year.
I also am working with a small group to plan alternative worship options in style and time for those unable to attend on Sunday mornings as well as different worship experiences.
What are your interests?
I love music and singing. I play the mountain dulcimer or lap dulcimer. I enjoy finding new music and discovering old Appalachian Mountain tunes.
I am an avid reader. My secret is that I love science fiction. I also like to draw and paint. Through planning and conducting an art program at a personal care home, I have rediscovered the joy of coloring!