New pastors

The Reverend Garrett Vittorio-Schindler and the Reverend Marena Vittorio-Schindler are pictured with their children.

In the midst of the pandemic that has made 2020 less than an outstanding year, we are also hearing some truly happy words. That’s right, there are many reasons to be happy.

Take the members of First Presbyterian Church and others living in our community for example. Listen to them and you’ll hear words such as “happiness,” “love,” “excellent,” “joy,” “successful” and “outstanding.” The historical old church on the northeast corner of the Courthouse Square has new pastors. The church members have had excellent interim pastors, but they’ve been without a full-time pastor for a long time. That’s over now.

The Reverend Garrett Vittorio-Schindler and the Reverend Marena Vittorio-Schindler have already started their ministry here and are as pleased to be here as the new pastors as the members and community are to have them.

Although they have both been in New York state churches serving as pastors before they accepted the call from this church, they are more than a little pleased to be back in Indiana. That’s right, they both have strong Hoosier connections. In fact, Garrett was raised in Southern Indiana in New Washington in Clark County and Marena – although she was mostly raised in what she calls “the I states” of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa – has a strong connection to this area. Her ancestors have a long history in Rush County where they settled seven generations ago in 1826. Marena and Garrett are now in the process of “gutting and restoring” that family homestead.

Part of that happy feeling of the congregation is because Garrett and Marena are parents of three year-old Kaleb and one year-old Magdalena. As you can imagine, having the voices and laughter little ones in a church is a joyous gift of love. The nursery in the church, that hasn’t been as busy as yesteryear, has been spruced up and it is once again filled with happy voices. Those in charge are even asking members for puzzles, play food and dishes, and items for a dollhouse (they started with Calico Critters because “they nurture diversity.” Of course, they are hoping for and expecting more youngsters in that special room.

They are both thrilled to be able to continue doing what they love to do by serving as co-pastors of “the church on the square” at First Presbyterian Church. Members are pleased, too, because this couple values tradition while also taking a fresh, creative spin on worship and ministry.

They said they want their kids to grow up loving the church.

“We were really involved in music and sports in school, yet the church helped us know we were accepted and valued no matter what. It offered us joy and love in non-judgmental, non-competitive ways that were lacking in other parts of our lives. We want that for other people, too, including our kids.”

They are eager to get to know the congregation and to get involved in the community.

The couple met at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Garrett’s hobbies are basketball (a real Hoosier) kayaking, and becoming an aspiring homesteader. Marena loves music, baking, creating new recipes, traveling, and kayaking. Marena and Garrett are excited to be part of our community and to join with our congregation as we move forward in faith.

Garrett, Marena and I hope you have a good 2021!

Decatur County resident Pat Smith may be contacted via this publication at

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