Getting To Know You

Getting to Know You…This is the first in a series about people in the congregation. In various discussions throughout this pandemic, people have spoken about not knowing newer or older people in the congregation and suggested I write something in the Messenger, if people are willing to share. It could assist our new pastor in getting to know people as well.

—Rozella Bower, church archivist

William Lawrence “Deacon Bill”

Born in Philadelphia, Bill was the oldest of four children in the family, living in South Philadelphia. Following his parents divorce at age 7, he and two younger siblings spent seven years at The Presbyterian Children’s Village in southwest Philadelphia. Some memories of those years include nice residences, kind house parents, going to the Presbyterian church across the street every Sunday, daily devotions, and fun times with other children. After his mother’s remarriage, the family came together again and had to get reacquainted plus welcome a new baby sister.

Following graduation from South Philadelphia High School, Bill got an electronics apprenticeship at the Naval Air Engineering Center. As the draft for Vietnam approached, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Three years of stateside assignments were followed by a year in South Vietnam where he worked on top of Monkey Mountain repairing radios and thankful not to be in actual combat. After his discharge he resumed his Naval apprenticeship and married his high school sweetheart, Doreen Koch. (They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in November.) Two years later he finished his apprenticeship and enrolled in Drexel Evening College under the GI Bill, and for almost 8 years pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with a major in Management. During that time he worked a full time job, attended evening classes and helped his wife parent two young children, Kim and Craig. After his college graduation in May 1980, he worked in the private business sector before starting his own manufacturing company, which was short lived.

The family joined Saint Matthew Church in 1977 and Bill began volunteering after his college graduation, especially in Christian Ed, Stewardship, Church Council, including Vice President, etc. At the time the congregation was looking for a Parish Coordinator, he was unemployed, and felt God’s call to apply for the position. He was selected and became part of the staff February 1, 2000.

During part of the past 20 years, Bill studied at The Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia for a certificate as an Associate in Ministry, which he completed in 2007. He was commissioned at Saint Matthew in 2008. The title of AiM has changed to that of Deacon, to serve the congregation through Word and Service. (Ordained ministers serve in Word and Sacrament.) He is currently working on plans for a virtual Sunday school in the fall, which will last at least until January. He did not take the Covid virus seriously at first but now follows all the rules. When he is not doing something with the church, he enjoys reading, vegetable gardening, watching DVDs of old TV shows, especially West Wing, and time with his family, including grandsons Chase and Braden. The family recently returned from a wonderful week in Maine as part of their anniversary celebration.

Of course, as in any job, there have been challenges along the way in his work at SM church, but he is thankful for special joys/blessings he has known. When asked about those joys he included things like getting to deeply know and relate to people and occasionally help them; to work with exceptional individuals on staff; in lay leadership; in the Moorestown Ministerium, and in the NJ Synod. Looking to the future, Bill hopes to effectively assist our new pastor, in assimilating here; and to provide “institutional memory” during the time of transition. Thank you, Bill, for 20 years of serving the Lord in our congregation.