(Cherie Rolfe, 7/4/2011)
For Rev. Rony Veska, a second career in full time ministry was “the last thing I expected.”
But, when God put in “an impressive call,” Veska answered.
While in her mid-forties, she enrolled in the Methodist Theological School in Ohio where she earned master’s degrees in divinity and theological studies.
July marks Veska’s third year as pastor of Ferndale’s First United Methodist Church, located at 22331 Woodward.
Veska, 60, came to Ferndale after serving for seven years at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Rochester, Mich.
Her Ferndale congregation is small, with approximately 250 members. The church attracts about 100 attendees for its Sunday service.
She would like to see that grow and is working to provide a spiritual environment that will attract younger membership while maintaining tradition.
“It’s a struggle, it’s a balancing act,” she said.
She has added some contemporary and technological elements that she hopes will attract new members.
Two years ago, the church added audio visual elements to its sanctuary. Screens, projectors and cameras were “tastefully installed” so as not to detract from the beauty of the sanctuary.
The church also reaches out through social media and maintains both a Facebook page and a website.
Veska also tries to raise the church’s community profile with special events such as an upcoming Blessing of the Bikes on July 17. Members and the public can bring motorcycles, bicycles, skate boards or “anything with wheels” to an outdoor service, weather permitting.
A Blessing of the Animals is also planned for August 14 as an outdoor service.
Veska firmly believes that children are an important part of the church’s future. “We work very hard to keep our children and youth programs going,” she said.
“If you don’t have children’s ministries, you don’t have a future.”
She’s proud that the church has a part-time paid youth ministry staffer and recently remodeled its nursery to make it up-to-date, sanitary and safe.
Veska also maintains an interest in women’s issues and was recently part of an interfaith discussion on women, reproductive rights and religion hosted by the Detroit section of the National Council of Jewish women in Southfield.
Before entering the full time ministry, she worked as an adoption and family planning counselor and social worker for Lutheran Social Services in Montana.
She says the role religion plays in reproductive rights decision varies among individuals and is influenced by their backgrounds, but hopes people include their faith in their decisions.
Find out more about Ferndale First United Methodist by checking out their website at: