Home Haddonfield News Haddonfield Religious Leaders Series: Reverend Dr. Wayne Zschech

Haddonfield Religious Leaders Series: Reverend Dr. Wayne Zschech

Zschech is the pastor at Haddonfield’s Lutheran Church of Our Savior.

Rev. Wayne Zschech, or “Pastor Wayne, stands ready to open the doors to the Lutheran Church of Our Savior on Wednesday, June 28. Zschech has served as the church’s pastor since 2006.

When the Rev. Wayne Zschech, or “Pastor Wayne,” entered college, he knew he wanted to help people, and he thought studying medicine was the best way to do so. But, when it looked like medical school wasn’t going to work out, he got to thinking about other ways he could help people.

While attending a Good Friday worship service, Zschech had his epiphany that he could help people another way. Today, Lutheran Church of Our Savior’s Zschech is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his ordination vows and can’t imagine being anything but a pastor.

Zschech grew up in Cinnaminson within an active churchgoing family, attending St. John’s Lutheran Church in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia. He said some of his closest friends to this day were formed in his younger years attending his church’s youth groups.

“We were what we called church nerds,” Zschech said with a good-natured laugh.

Zschech graduated from Cinnaminson High School in 1982 and entered Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He was on the pre-med track studying chemistry when he decided to add religion as a second major. At the time, becoming a pastor wasn’t on his radar. He said he added the second major out of a general interest in the subject.

Upon graduating from Case Western, Zschech spent a year working in a biopesticide research and development company. He said when it looked like medical school wasn’t going to work out for him, he asked himself why he wanted to be a doctor in the first place.

“I always wanted to let people know that God had not abandoned them in their suffering,” Zschech said.

He was at a crossroads, but it took that Good Friday worship service to make him realize he could assist people in their suffering another way. He said the revelation came as a surprise to him, but in speaking with his friends and family, they somehow had already known Zschech was meant to be a pastor.

From 1987 to 1991, Zschech attended a Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia, during which time he held an internship at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Dover, Del. At St. Andrew’s he met the University of Delaware graduate student who later became his wife, Kate Zschech.

The pair married in October 1991, and Zschech was called to serve his first congregation in April 1992, at Hope American Lutheran Church in Fallon, Mont. He said the area was rural with a small congregation where he quickly got to know all of the members.

From 1993 to 1997, Zschech served Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Vienna, Va., during which time his daughter was born. He said the suburb of Washington, D.C., was in stark contrast to Fallon. In Fallon, his congregation consisted of around 20 people, whereas in Vienna he had 700 members.

“It was not even night and day,” Zschech said of the two towns. “It was light years away.”

From 1997 to 2006, Zschech returned to St. Andrews in Dover where the congregation grew larger than it ever had before, Zschech said. In 2006, Zschech and his wife decided they wanted to move closer to their aging parents, leading the family of three to Haddonfield.

“The one thing that’s very different about Haddonfield is the congenitally of it,” Zschech said. “It is an extremely tight and very supportive and very collaborative community. It’s not that it doesn’t exist in other places. I’ve never experienced anything like it before.”

He said the churches in town are respected within the community not only by the residents and one another but by the borough. He said churches in the community have a voice that is almost never squelched or diminished as unimportant.

Looking back 25 years after taking his vows, Zschech said the moments in his work that stand out most are when he got to offer words of hope. He said at baptisms, weddings and funerals, he feels at his closest with people.

“Being a pastor, I couldn’t imagine being anything else,” Zschech said. “One of the best joys about it is you get to be a part of people’s lives at some of the best and worst parts. You’re invited to be there and share in those moments, which are invaluable.”

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