Rich and Patti Warren

Rich and Patti Warren of Orland recently moved to Steuben County. Rich is the lead pastor at Lake Missionary Church, near the Steuben-LaGrange County line.

ANGOLA — A rural church with a sense of community welcomed new lead pastor Rich Warren recently.

“I enjoy connecting with the community,” said Warren, who has been at the Lake Missionary Church pulpit for the past couple of months, talking about discipleship.

Lake Missionary Church, 9030 W. U.S. 20, is located about halfway between Angola and LaGrange, near West Otter Lake.

Warren, his wife, Patti, and their teenage daughter Sydney live in Orland. They have two older daughters, Shelby, 24, who lives in Minnesota, and Sarah, 29, of Dayton, Ohio.

Rich said he’d like to reach out into the Angola area and find ways for Lake Missionary to engage with people of all ages.

More than 600 people attended a trunk-or-treat event at the church Oct. 13. Movie nights are planned.

Rich was born and raised in Dayton and met Patti at Dayton Christian High School.

“The running joke is that she married me because I would never be a pastor,” Rich said.

He started with a lay career as a network administrator with a bachelor’s degree in information technology. His wife, a pastor’s daughter, acquiesced after he said his volunteer work with a youth group began to “tug on my heart.” Rich, with a master’s in religion from Liberty University, followed his calling and despite her desires to be rooted, Patti followed along.

Rich has served as a youth pastor in Dayton and Greenfield, Massachusetts, and a senior pastor in Piqua, Ohio, and Springfield, Ohio. Having been in a mix of large and small cities, he said what he likes about smaller, rural areas is the commitment to community.

“I have been described as persistently patient,” Rich said. “My goal is that ministry is done by the people.”

He stands by the three “E’s”: encourage, equip and empower.

The Lake Missionary congregation, he said, is progressive.

“They have a heart for people,” he said. “They seem to be very forward thinking. They are not stuck in yesterday … It’s always what can we do to move forward.”

Around 90 people attend Sunday services at 10 a.m. Children’s Sunday school is offered in tandem with the adult service, which incorporates a live band and video elements. There is a Wednesday Bible study at 6 p.m. with youth Bible study at the same time.

The Lake Missionary children’s director is Kristy Schuette.

“There’s a lot of talent here,” said Rich, explaining that Lake Missionary hosts a “modern service” that has the potential to evolve further.

In moving to Steuben County, Rich said he has felt very welcomed, and even found unexpected common ground with interim pastor Mike Cain. Cain was baptized at East Park Church of God in Dayton, the first church Rich attended, and served at the same church in Springfield Rich served more than a decade later.

Lake Missionary has a Facebook page at LMCAngola and a web site.

Warren can be contacted at 665-2254 or rwarren@lakemissionarychurch.org.

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