At Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, the word on the street is “Pastor Jack is back!” The congregation recently reunited with the Rev. Dr. Jack DiMatteo, who once served as the pastoral assistant there 18 years ago but left to pursue another ministry in 2002.
Now, Pastor Jack has accepted a full-time call to be the senior pastor at Shepherd of the Hills and is enjoying the reunion.
“It’s great to be reunited with this wonderful congregation and its community,” said Pastor DiMatteo. “Catching up with old friends and meeting new people is exciting.”
The congregation, located at 246 Woodport Road, is doing its best to offer an “in person” worship experience each Sunday at 9 a.m. while exceeding CDC guidelines and state mandates for public gatherings. Worship attendees wear facial coverings and maintain adequate physical distancing while enjoying the “community” feeling of Christian family unity. The services are also streamlined live on the congregation’s YouTube channel and are archived for viewers who wish to enjoy the experience later in the week.
Pastor Jack, a native of Phillipsburg, N.J., obtained an accounting degree from Rider University prior to answering the call to ordained ministry. He earned a Master of Divinity Degree and later a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Lutheran seminaries at Gettysburg and Philadelphia, respectively. He has been an ordained minister for thirty-four years, and is the author of a bestselling book, “Faith and Farewell.”
While living in Sparta years ago, Rev. DiMatteo and his wife raised four children, who are now adults scattered throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “Time flies,” said Pastor Jack, “but I’m truly grateful to God to be reunited with the fine folks at this time in Sparta.”
The Rev. DiMatteo’s vision for the congregation includes the continuation of ministries and programs to aid local impoverished neighbors, as the congregation is already feeding locals in Dover, N.J., and is making plans to continue the 30 year tradition of preparing Thanksgiving baskets for deserving Sussex County families in collaboration with Project Self Sufficiency.
Recently, the congregation hosted a community vendor fair to bring vendors and residents together in a controlled, CDC safe environment. The congregation strives to build bridges “to and with” the surrounding community, as evidenced by outdoor gatherings of local support groups and physically-distanced learning events.
For more information on Shepherd of the Hills and its ministries, “like” the congregation on Facebook, visit sothnj.org to read the weekly email, and locate the link to their YouTube channel.Contact the congregation at email@example.com or 973-729-7010.
“It’s great to be reunited with this wonderful congregation and its community. Catching up with old friends and meeting new people is exciting.” The Rev. Dr. Jack DiMatteo