COVENTRY TWP.: For almost 50 years, the congregation at the Apostolic Church of Barberton has called its pastor “Rev. Pamer.”
That is not going to change anytime soon.
On Friday, the Rev. Paul J. Pamer will be installed as pastor, making him the third generation of Pamers to serve as senior pastor of the church, located at 1717 Turkeyfoot Lake Road.
“There was never a point in my life when I didn’t want to be a preacher. When I was a young kid, riding in a grocery cart, I told people I want to be a Kroger bag boy and a preacher. So, I’m halfway to my goal,” Pamer said with a smile. “The heroes in my life — my grandpa, my dad, my mom — have always been people who preach or share the gospel.”
Pamer, 37, said that although he looked up to his father and grandfather, he never felt pressured to follow in their footsteps. His father, Bishop-elect Rodney V. Pamer, became senior pastor in 1994, succeeding his father, Bishop Nelson F. Pamer, who became senior pastor in 1965.
The church actually began in 1950 at the home of the elder Pamer’s parents (on the property of the former O.C. Barber Creamery) in Barberton, where the bishop-elect still lives. His brother-in-law, the Rev. Paul Price, was the first pastor of the church.
“I was always willing to do anything I could to help the church, but I never intended to become pastor,” said Bishop Pamer, 83, who became pastor when the church was located on Jefferson Avenue in Barberton. “I was doing everything from teaching Sunday School to filling in for the pastor. When he left for a church in Indiana, the board asked me if I would be pastor.”
During Bishop Pamer’s tenure, the congregation purchased 17 acres in Coventry Township, where the church now sits, and moved into a newly constructed church building in 1971. The bishop, who worked full time at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. while serving as pastor, said the new church was possible because of the dedication and commitment of its members.
“The members did the majority of the work. We didn’t lay the brick, but we did just about everything else,” Bishop Pamer said. “The good Lord has been good to us. Since then, we’ve expanded to build a new sanctuary, when my son was pastor. The Lord has blessed us with a good, growing church and a lot of faithful members.”
The Apostolic congregation, which worships in the Pentecostal tradition, attracts about 500 people to its Sunday services at 9:45 a.m. and 6 p.m. Church ministries also include a 7 p.m. Wednesday service, children’s and student programs, a worship arts program and a Spanish church at 1:30 p.m. Sundays.
“We sacrificed to expand our building so that we would have room to grow and reach more people,” said Bishop-elect Pamer, 61. “In order to have a larger facility, we had to put in a waterline, and that has benefited the entire community around us. We want to be a blessing to our community and will continue to do what we can to make that happen.”
The bishop-elect decided to retire last year, believing it was time for a transition. The church congregation voted five years ago to make his son the pastor-elect. The youngest Pamer took the helm in January and will officially be installed as senior pastor at 7 p.m. Friday.
The weekend celebration will also include a “100 Years of Ministry” program at 9:45 a.m. Sept. 29 to observe the century of service dedicated to the church by bishop and bishop-elect Pamers. During the service, Bishop Pamer will ordain his son a bishop.
“When I started out with this church 60 years ago, I had no idea that it would lead to three generations of leadership,” Bishop Pamer said. “All I ever wanted for my family was to have a good foundation and to live for God.”
For more information about the church, call 330-745-5550 or go to www.apostolicchurch.com.