On November 1, 2015, Redeemer Reformed Church (RCUS) in Golden Valley, MN, ordained and installed Tim Marinelli as an associate pastor. Pastors and elders from all three Minnesota RCUS congregations, a St. Paul OPC, and other officebearers—including Rev. Marinelli’s father-in-law—participated in the laying on of hands.
As Rev. Marinelli takes up his ministerial mantle, he reflects on the interaction between Jesus and Peter in John 21: “Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. In response to Peter’s answers, three times Jesus commanded Peter to feed His sheep. As a pastor in Christ’s church, love for Jesus is tied to the duty of feeding His flock. My desire is to faithfully feed and nourish all those in the sheepfold of Redeemer RCUS. This will be done by the grace of God through the administration of the Word of God in preaching, discipleship, and counseling so that those who are within and those who will come into this body of believers may all grow up into the maturity of Christlikeness for the glory of God (Ephesians 4). This is His goal and my desire for my ministry, and so I must look to Him and seek His help at all times to fulfill it.”
Redeemer’s longtime minister, Rev. Jim Sawtelle, led the ordination/installation service. Rev. David Fagrey (Grace Reformed; Rapid City, SD) gave the charge to the pastor, speaking from Ephesians 6:21-22 on “The Basic Qualities of a Faithful Minister.” Rev. Kyle Sorensen (Salem Ebenezer Reformed Church; Manitowoc, WI) gave the charge to the congregation from Ephesians 4:11-16, “Equipped for YOUR Ministry.”
Rev. Sorensen participated as appointed officiant for Covenant Classis East of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS). That classis includes ten congregations in the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania.
Rev. Fagrey was instrumental in discipling Tim Marinelli during his early high school years, when Tim’s family lived in Rapid City while his Air Force father was stationed at Beale AFB. Tim met Renita Gallimore and began attending Grace Reformed Church, where her father, Roger, served as an elder. By God’s grace, Tim came to firm belief in the Reformed faith. He and Renita attended Dordt College and Northwestern College (Orange City), were married, and moved to Virginia where he completed a graduate program in physical therapy. After practicing as a physical therapist for some years, Tim pursued seminary training at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and graduated in 2015.
Rev. Sawtelle says, “I like to kid Tim that we should hold Reformed Healing services in which he could use his physical therapy skills to lay on hands after he preaches an evangelistic sermon. So far, he just laughs politely and looks at me like I might have lost my mind.”
This is not the first time Redeemer has hired an associate pastor. Rev. Ryan Kron was installed four years ago for the purpose of beginning a mission work in Eden Prairie, a suburb 12 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis. He and Rev. Sawtelle worked together for a year before 45 members and regular visitors from the Eden Prairie area formed a core group and services began. That group has now grown to nearly 100 members and has become a self-governing, self-supporting organized congregation, Emmaus Road Church. Sunday school for all ages is held at 9:10 am, and worship is held at 10:30 am at Eden Lake Elementary School, 12000 Anderson Lakes Parkway, in Eden Prairie.
Redeemer Reformed Church meets for Sunday school at 9:00 am, morning worship at 10:15 am, and an evening service at 5:00 pm in its location at 1300 Lilac Drive N. in Golden Valley, a near western suburb of Minneapolis. Membership currently stands at about 170 with another 20-30 people regularly attending. Some of those are families or individuals from a Chinese background.
“The Lord has given our church an open door among Chinese immigrants in the Twin Cities and Chinese visiting scholars at the University of Minnesota,” explains Rev. Sawtelle. “In the year and a half we have labored on the U of M campus, we have seen a number of conversions and have taught many more the gospel. The challenges of discipling men and women who only recently have been raised as atheists are exhilarating and exhausting.”
He adds, “My father-in-law, Rev. Jelle Tuininga, used to say: ‘When the sheep are tame the fold can be large.’ In our case, many of those the Lord brings to us are either not Christians or baby Christians. Meeting their needs is amazingly time intensive. So we felt the need to call another pastor to help us in that labor.”
Rev. Marinelli’s responsibilities are the same as Rev. Sawtelle’s: discipling new believers, conducting membership classes, leading Bible studies, going on pastoral visits, and all ministerial work. They share equally in proclaiming the Word, generally each one preaching at one of every Sunday’s two services.
“We as elders were insistent that while Tim is younger in the ministry, there is equality in the ministry and eldership,” says Rev. Sawtelle. “So there is no ‘senior pastor’ or ‘head pastor’ with lesser pastors underneath.”
He concludes, “Ultimately, it is our prayerful goal to develop the membership of Redeemer to the point where we can once again start a mission church in the TCs, so that we can further spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to this area.”
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 12-13 of the January 13, 2016, issue of Christian Renewal.