Grace Lutheran Church’s pastor retires Grace Lutheran Church’s pastor retires
He parks in the first space by the door of Grace Lutheran Church by a sign that reads He who parks here preaches on... Grace Lutheran Church’s pastor retires

He parks in the first space by the door of Grace Lutheran Church by a sign that reads

He who parks here preaches on Sunday. Pastor Rich Finck is a sporty fella with his old ragtop Mustang in the first space. His days of parking there will have come to a close by Friday, when he retires after 42 years of service to the Lutheran Church system.

Pastor Rich Finck

For the last 16 years, Finck has been a leader at Grace Lutheran Church. He doesn’t feel he’s really the leader, he believes he’s just lucky to be there and to have spent time at the church. “I have been blessed,” Finck said. “I am so grateful for this congregation and very thankful for this dedicated and cohesive community.”

“After 16 years as leader of Grace Lutheran Church, the Rev. Rich Finck preached his retirement service June 25, 2017. More than 300 members and guests enjoyed a reception to bid him farewell as pastor of the church, but not goodbye for good. Finck and his wife, Bonnie, will still be among the congregation when he is not working part-time at other churches. Members of the church wished him final farewells.”

A modest man of God, Finck gives all the credit to the congregation for the wonderfully welcome and open church. “We all laugh together a lot around here,” Finck shared.

He’s like a cheerleader with his pompoms in the air as he chants “Come to Grace, come to Grace.” He smiles as he tells stories of how proud he is of Grace Lutheran Church, and his love of his work and his church family is evident.

Finck will not take any credit for anything that has developed during his time at the church. But when asked what he’s proudest of, he speaks of the Bible study groups and the music program at the church. He is quick to qualify that, though. “I didn’t do these programs,” he states adamantly. “It’s the wonderful music directors and members that make this place work so cohesively.”

The church offers bible study that has grown up including groups catering to teens, adults, women and men. “I appreciate the level of intensity and interest in the bible and the way they study the word,” Finck shared. Grace Lutheran offers at least five musical groups and Finck beams as he talks about the evolution of these programs. “I love the adult joyful noise including the adult choir Grace Notes, the Festival hand bell choir, hand chimes, contemporary praise band Grace on Fire, and a hand bell hymn choir,” he smiles as he speaks of all the musical options.
Bob Dunn and other members of the church say that the Fincks have been a blessing to the church. “We have sadness here at Grace Lutheran Church but we’ve been so blessed to have Rich here the last 16 years,” Dunn said.

“He has a God-given gift of being able to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds. His love just shows through.” – Jennifer Wayne (right)
“Pastor Finck was there for my first communion, my first confirmation, and hopefully for my wedding when that time comes. I thank him for helping my family grow in faith and helping us in times to come.” –Nancy Sloan (left) Also pictured, Forest Sloan.

“We are happy for Pastor Finck and have been blessed to have him as our minister. We are also nervous and sad wondering what God has in store for us. We know, though, that Pastor has helped prepare us as a great teacher, counselor, and spiritual leader…it’s a new stage for Grace Lutheran.” – John Rogers

“We wish Pastor and Bonnie a well-deserved retirement and look forward to when they return to us.” – Pat & Jim LaLonde

“Pastor Finck was there for my first communion, my first confirmation, and hopefully for my wedding when that time comes. I thank him for helping my family grow in faith and helping us in times to come.” –Nancy Sloan (left) Also pictured, Forest Sloan.

Pastor Finck and Bonnie with three of their four children.

Finck will say that during his time the church added a few things. “We have added a huge deck on the back and I am so proud of the memorial garden,” he said. The memorial garden is a one-of-kind masterpiece where members can be honored and remembered with ashes and memorial bricks.

When asked about regrets, Finck said, “Sometimes in my career, I put church above family.” The demands on a pastor are great and he believes he should’ve been more in tune to his wife and four children over the years. “The hardest job is a pastor’s spouse.” Finck’s wife was a teacher and aided in many of the efforts with children over the years.

He and his wife, Bonnie, were at the Lutheran church in King George and Callao, Virginia previously for about 25 years. They helped to setup a preschool program at that church back in 1981, an area outside Fredericksburg near the Dahlgren area. During his training program, Finck was a youth pastor in Texas. While in Texas, Finck was the youth pastor to the famous singer Lyle Lovett. He said he still sees Lovett when he performs in the Virginia area.

“All the churches were such a blessing to me,” he remembered. “They have been so caring, accepting, and welcoming.” Grace Lutheran Church is well-known as a very community-service driven area, as is all of the Chester area. This is something that Finck is so proud of and just beams when he talks about. “Around here, it’s a given that the members will support CCHASM and CARATAS and food drives and any community service project,” he said. He is proud that it will be no problem for the members to step up to community service and they will be no need for cajoling or asking. “People just help in this area,” he stated matter-of-a-fact.

He and his wife will stay in the area because it’s home to them now. They live close by and enjoy being near Richmond for convenience but far enough into the suburbs to enjoy the community of Chester.

Finck and his wife plan to visit their four children more as they live everywhere from Florida to Pennsylvania and they plan to travel some, also. When asked if they will be found on the pews of Grace Lutheran Church, Finck said they want to visit other Lutheran churches and he will work part time at another church for about six months or a year. He’s also in a senior golf league and can’t wait to have the lack of responsibility so he can relax and perfect his game.

But the answer is of course he’ll be in the pews sometimes. He said, “I remember to thank God all the time that I got called here to Grace Lutheran.” Finck said one thing he’s really looking forward to is new things ahead. “I am looking forward to sitting next to my wife in church, I haven’t been able to do that in 42 years,” he smiled.

Pastor Finck will be close by because his belief is a simple one in parenting and about the people of the three churches he’s served at – “Love these people because God gave them to you!”

The church offers Bible study groups catering to teens, adults, women, and men. “I appreciate the level of intensity and interest in the Bible and the way they study the Word,” Finck shared. Grace Lutheran offers at least five musical groups, and Finck beams as he talks about the evolution of these programs. “I love the adult joyful noise,” he said. including the adult choir Grace Notes, the Festival hand bell choir, hand chimes, contemporary praise band Grace on Fire, and a hand bell hymn choir.”

Bob Dunn and other members say that the Fincks have been great for the church. “We have sadness here at Grace Lutheran Church, but we’ve been so blessed to have Rich here the last 16 years,” Dunn said.

Finck will say that during his time, the church added a few things. “We have added a huge deck on the back, and I am so proud of the memorial garden,” he said. The memorial garden is a one-of-kind masterpiece where members can be honored and remembered with ashes and memorial bricks.

When asked about regrets, Finck said, “Sometimes in my career, I put church above family.” The demands on a pastor are great, and he believes he should have been more in tune with his wife and four children over the years. “The hardest job is a pastor’s spouse.” Bonnie, a former teacher, aided in many of the efforts with children over the years.
Finck and his wife were at the Lutheran churches in King George and Callao, Va. for about 25 years. During his training program, Finck was a youth pastor in Texas.to children including the now-famous singer Lyle Lovett. He said he still sees Lovett when he performs in the Virginia area.

“All the churches were such a blessing to me,” Finck remembered. “They have been so caring, accepting, and welcoming.” Grace Lutheran Church is driven by community service as is all of the Chester area. This is something that Finck itakes pride in that, and he beams when he talks about it. “Around here, it’s a given that the members will support CCHASM and CARATAS and food drives and any community service project,” he said. He is proud that it will be no problem for the members to step up to community service and they will be no need for cajoling or asking. “People just help in this area,” he said.

He and his wife will stay in the area because it’s home to them now. They like being near Richmond for convenience, but far enough into the suburbs to enjoy the community of Chester.

Finck and his wife plan to visit their four children more – as they live everywhere from Florida to Pennsylvania – and they plan to travel as well. When asked if they will be found on the pews of Grace Lutheran Church, Finck said they want to visit other Lutheran churches, and he will work part-time at another church for about six months or a year. He’s also in a senior golf league, and without responsibility he can relax and perfect his game.

But the answer is, of course, he’ll be in the pews sometimes. He said, “I remember to thank God all the time that I got called here to Grace Lutheran.” Finck said he awaits new experiences. “I am looking forward to sitting next to my wife in church; I haven’t been able to do that in 42 years,” he said.

Finck’s belief is a simple one in parenting and about the people of the three churches where he’s served – “Love these people because God gave them to you!”