Houghton College was pleased to present the 45th annual Claude A. Ries “Pastor of the Year” award to Reverend Kevin Fetterhoff and the first -ever “Youth Pastor of the Year” award to Reverend Justin Leininger. Both men were presented with their awards on Monday, March 4.
This award is named for Dr. Claude Ries, who faithfully served as a Houghton professor of Bible and theology for nearly 40 years, as well as interim pastor of the Houghton Wesleyan Church. Ries, who passed away in 1977, is remembered for his outstanding leadership, warm attitude toward others, keen intellectual ability, and lifelong commitment to evangelism. He set a standard of pastoral leadership and scholarship that students, faculty, and pastors are encouraged to practice. This award was established in his name in 1968.
“Pastor Kevin works well with a team, but his is a leadership that guides this team… at each of his churches he has used his leadership gift to help churches clarify their goals and refocus their physical, emotional and mental energy toward reaching those goals. He casts bold vision and strengthens and motivates people to hone their gifts to help the whole church to reach these visions together,” said college President Shirley Mullen. She continued, “As a college that seeks to prepare young people to minister to the full range of needs of our world we are delighted today to recognize a pastor who is also committed in the work of his church to recognizing the full range of needs that we have in this fallen world and to bringing people through all of their avenues of need to the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Rev. Kevin Fetterhoff, pastor of Bethany Wesleyan Church in Cherryville, Pennsylvania, grew up in Missouri with his wife, Pam, and attended Bible college in Kansas City.
President Mullen continued by introducing the first -ever recipient of the Youth Pastor of the Year Award. She said, “Pastor Justin is known not only for his effectiveness, but for his warm, winsome, cheerful spirit, which is as much a blessing to those around him as his competence.”
Rev. Justin Leininger ’04 and his wife, Julie Kulisich ’03, attended Houghton College before he became ordained at Bethany in 2006. He and his wife are expecting their second child to join them any day.
To close the service Rev. Leininger gave advice to the students at Houghton: “You have the wonderful opportunity to go out and impact this world ,and you have no idea right now of the great and wonderful plan that God has for you, so take every opportunity to soak up every different class that’s here, every professor that’s here, bug them if you have to, get what you can out of them, because your life is huge and God has a great plan for you, and you have no idea what opportunities down the road are going to be open for you.”