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Ministry gets new pastor

John Koczman hails from East Coast

Posted: November 7, 2008 6:43 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2008 4:30 a.m.
Bethlehem Lutheran Ministries in Canyon Country recently accepted John Koczman as its new pastor.
“The committee that selected him was very diligent in prayer and researched to find the right man,” said church member Marilyn Wegener. “He preached last Sunday.

“He was very forceful and seemed very passionate and eager to get going.”

“He seems to be a sincere, God-loving, family pastor with many years in ministry to share with the congregation and a good sense of humor,” said church member Cindy Hrezo, 48, of Saugus.

When Bethlehem Lutheran’s Pastor Daniel MacDougall was called to another church in April, a 10-person committee was formed to find a new pastor. Faced with many potential and qualified candidates,  Elder Fred Beach said the committee engaged in interviews, discussion and a lot of prayer to make a final decision.

The congregation wanted the Lord’s hand all over it, because ultimately it is his decision, Beach said.

“(Koczman) was the shepherd we needed to lead the congregation. He just has a great spirit about him. He’s clearly a godly man, he’s got a great background, great spiritual gifts and he has a lot of background with the youth.”

Koczman, 55, who moved to Saugus from Florida along with his wife for the position, has 25 years of pastoral experience. The father of five began his career as a high school teacher and coach but God eventually called him into ministry, he said. 

“I just love working with people and talking about their spiritual lives,” Koczman said.

He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Theological Seminary and attended the Pastoral Leadership Institute’s four-year program.

Bethlehem Lutheran has a steady congregation of about 250 attendees. Beach said Koczman has the skills and adaptability to lead a church that balances traditional and contemporary styles of worship, as well as help the church move forward in outreach.

“Fellowship is important,” Koczman said. “But we also have to focus on reaching out to the community; offering to the community that inclusive spirit that blends together traditional Lutheranism with the more modern praise style of worship and the contemporary lifestyle of living lives that are relevant and significant to the issues of today.”


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