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New Pastor at Tabernacle United Methodist Ready to Tackle Priorities

New Pastor at Tabernacle United Methodist Ready to Tackle Priorities

By Karen Knight

The Rev. Robert Strauss, new pastor of Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Erma, and his wife, Laurie, are looking forward to meeting people in the community.
The Rev. Robert Strauss, new pastor of Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Erma, and his wife, Laurie, are looking forward to meeting people in the community.

ERMA – The Rev. Robert Strauss — or Pastor Bob, as he prefers — got a chance to enjoy his retirement for about a week, until he appeared July 7 before the congregation of the Tabernacle United Methodist Church for the first time as their new pastor.

Strauss, 64, who has served under appointment of the United Methodist Church for 41 years, is excited about moving from his Pennsylvania base to a home he and his wife own in Villas, and is looking forward to meeting community members, enjoying the benefits of living at the Shore and developing some new hobbies.

“I gave my last sermon on June 16,” said Strauss, referring to his previous pastorate at Jarrettown United Methodist Church in Dresher, Pennsylvania, “and we had to be out of our house June 17 so they could get it ready for the new pastor. It’s been a whirlwind since, meeting people in the new congregation. Everyone has been so welcoming; I look forward to this new appointment.”

Being appointed as pastor in retirement is not anything new for the United Methodist Church, according to Strauss, who said three of his colleagues have served locally in other congregations.

“I really believe God made this happen, as the plan just fell in place,” he said.

Throughout his career, he and his family have lived in housing provided by the church. A friend had advised him years ago to buy a home “for the equity,” so in 1997 they bought their home in Villas, a few blocks from the beach.

“It was primarily a second home,” Strauss said. “We’d spend two weeks a summer down here on vacation and loved it. I’d come down once a week to take care of mowing the yard or raking leaves, whatever needed to be done.”

Twelve years ago, they tore that house down and replaced it with a modular home. “We love it down here,” he said about his family, which includes his wife of nearly 39 years and his grandson. He has two grown children, five biological grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.

“I like walking on the beach, and we like playing miniature golf with our grandson,” the pastor said. “I’m also hoping to develop some new hobbies, do some traveling and take advantage of all the other activities here.”

As a new pastor, Strauss also will be working with congregation members to determine priorities. Like many others, the Erma congregation has dwindled over the years. In the past, it consisted of more than 400 people. That decreased over the years to about 100 just before the Covid pandemic; now it’s about half that number.

“Yes, that’s a tough one,” Strauss said, about how to increase the congregation size. “I want to get to know the congregation, share Jesus, and follow where God leads us.”

Contact the reporter, Karen Knight, at kknight@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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