Bethesda-on-the-Bay welcomes new pastor

Pastor Angela Jean Freeman-Riley joined Bethesda-on-the-Bay on Feb. 20.

Bethesda-on-the-Bay Lutheran Church in Bay Village has welcomed its new pastor, the Rev. Angela Jean Freeman-Riley, following a 16-month search led by Bethesda’s Call Committee.

"Bethesda has been impacting lives and working to serve the community for 70 years,” said Pastor Angela. “I am beyond delighted to have been called to walk alongside Bethesda for the years to come. Together we will deepen our relationship with the God who calls us to love our neighbors as we explore ways we can continue to serve and care for the surrounding community.”

Pastor Angela began Feb. 20 and her first Sunday was Transfiguration Sunday, Feb. 26.

"We are thrilled to welcome Pastor Angela to Bethesda. Her experience in youth and campus ministries, along with her expertise in spiritual formation present exciting possibilities for the future,” said Lisa Johnson, president of Bethesda’s church council. “We look forward to working with her to continue Bethesda's proud traditions, and to implement new ideas for serving our neighbors and growing in faith."

Bethesda’s long-time pastor, the Rev. Dennis Stylski, retired Oct. 1, 2015, after 38 years of service at Bethesda. Interim pastor Robin Craig served the congregation until Sunday, Feb. 19.

A nine-member Call Committee led the search for Bethesda’s new pastor. Led by Doris Toelke, the committee included members Jack Neal, Barb Woodburn, Fred Bower, Lynn Zeidler, Terri Pope, Scott Jordan, Randy Risch and Adam Krueger. 

“It has been a joy and privilege to work with the Call Committee as we prayed, surveyed, analyzed, discussed and interviewed candidates together,” Toelke said. “I am confident that God has blessed our work and will continue to bless us as we move forward together in mission and ministry with our new leader.”

Pastor Angela most recently served as the part-time interim pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lakewood after the retirement of their pastor of 25 years. From 2012-2015, she was co-pastor at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. Before moving to Hawaii, she served seven years as pastor of First Lutheran Church in Malden, Massachusetts. She also was a community development pastor in Marshfield, Massachusetts, an intern pastor at the International Church of Copenhagen in Denmark, and an intern at the famous Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church) in Leipzig, Germany, where Johann Sebastian Bach had served as music director.

Pastor Angela received her master of divinity degree in parish ministry at Pacific Theological Seminary in Berkley, California. She studied theology at the University of Leipzig in Germany. She received bachelor of arts degrees in theology and German from Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has expertise in worship leadership, youth and family ministry, evangelism/mission, multicultural ministry and spiritual formation/direction.

Pastor Angela lives in Lakewood with her husband, Pastor Jonathon Glass-Riley, pastor of Lakewood Baptist Church, and stepson, age 11.

Pastor Angela will be formally installed as Bethesda’s pastor during an installation service at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 7. The community is welcome to attend the service and the reception following the service.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Bethesda-on-the-Bay Lutheran Church holds Sunday services at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. For more information, visit or call the church office at 440-871-2276. Bethesda-on-the-Bay Lutheran is located at 28607 Wolf Road. 

Gary Weiland

Free-lance writer and public relations consultant.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 9:28 AM, 03.07.2017