“I love my job,” said Mark Beideman.
Beideman became interim pastor of the United Methodist Church—arguably the third largest church in Parkesburg to the Catholic and Baptist—in December 1996 and senior pastor in July 1997 by Bishop Peter Weaver’s approval.
“Usually you give a church a year to know who you are,” said Beideman. “I was only supposed to be here for six months. The physical and spiritual building was falling. So I went full tilt.”
Beideman grew up United Methodist, graduated from the Wesley Theological Seminary and served as a layperson at the Hibernia United Methodist Church in Coatesville. He enjoys United Methodist because it’s democratic, i.e. you can vote on various things.
UMC in Parkesburg has reached more than 200 members not only because of Beideman’s knowledge and passion—“Putting worship first is paramount; it’s easy for a church to get caught up in having the biggest choir, biggest church, biggest organ”—but his likeability.
You get the impression he’s the cool guy at the barbeque with a bagful of stories. He graduated from the Chester County Technical School, worked on Lamborghinis as an auto mechanic, and builds and races dragsters. “Over Labor Day weekend, I competed at Beaver Springs. I race when time permits. It’s how I decompress.”
Pastorship is challenging and satisfying in many ways. People want to be lifted up, to be headed in the right spiritual direction, misguided by the heavy pressures of the secular world: getting fired, losing your job, the mortgage, death.
“This whole ministry thing isn’t about me, it’s about showing people the Lord, a better way,” said Beidman. “Money, power and control is the world’s way of life. We teach love, honor and respect.”
Beidman is a member of the Parkesburg Community Churches Outreach (PCCO). All the churches of Parkesburg put their theological differences aside and get together to help the community. They’re behind The Point and the Octorara Area Food Cupboard, which, last week, fed around 800 people. On October 13, they’re having a car show at LC Auto Body, 5547 Lincoln Highway.
“We [PCCO] also do a lot of counseling. We don’t mind giving somebody fish, but we’d rather teach them how to fish.”
Beidman is also very proud of Righteous Clothing, the church’s thrift store (322 Main Street) made possible by pianist Jeff Hery. “We take and sell small appliances, jewelry, clothing. People will come up and thank me for having the store. Their kids wear the clothes and when they grow out of them, they bring them back. It’s been so great.”
Whether you’re devoted or what Christian pastor and radio broadcaster calls a “snorkeler”—one who cruises on the top, looking down, trying to figure out if they want to swim deeper—Beidman welcomes you.
“You can’t argue anyone into faith, you can’t chain them into,” said Beidman. “But keep your eyes on the Lord. Listen for that voice. He’ll open the doors for you. Miracles happen every day. If you have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to feel—you got it.”