By Lydian Bernhardt
It seems unlikely for a minister to be anything less than outgoing, but Adam Goodrich, pastor of Friedland Moravian Church, was a shy kid.
“I was pretty quiet until high school,” he says. “I kept to myself and didn’t really talk a lot.”
But he liked to participate in the youth group at Olivet Moravian, and he enjoyed playing handbells and guitar. And that caught the notice of his pastor, Rev. Doug Rights.
“He started having me play in church, and giving me other opportunities,” Goodrich said. “That helped me come out of my shell a little bit.”
Now more than a year into his call as a pastor at Friedland Moravian – “A great place to be,” he says – Goodrich can reflect thankfully on his gifts of music and ministry; on his experience at the Moravian Theological Seminary; and on the generous gift that allowed him to graduate debt-free.
As a recipient of the Bishop W. Herbert Spaugh Ministerial and Children’s Educational Fund of the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America, Goodrich’s living expenses at seminary were paid, including room, board, and books.
“It was a huge burden lifted off my shoulders,” Goodrich says. “Every minute I’m not worrying about paying off debt, I can focus on Christ’s mission in the world.”
Established by New Beginnings Moravian Church member Herbert Spaugh, Jr. in memory of his father, Moravian Bishop Herbert Spaugh, the fund also provides for continuing education opportunities for Moravian clergy.
Through the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America, individuals like Spaugh can establish trusts and endowments, engage in long-range planning, map out investments and more.
While in college at Appalachian State University, Goodrich decided to major in electronic media broadcasting.
“That taught me to communicate effectively. But then, I thought, ‘What do I want to say? If I’ve been trained to convey a message, what message will it be?’ “
Four summers on the Laurel Ridge M-Staff and a close association with two sets of faithful grandparents – one side Moravian, one side Baptist – brought Goodrich to a realization: he was meant to lead people to Christ. He enrolled in Moravian Theological Seminary and began to train as a minister.
“I was not looking forward to all of the debt after graduation,” Goodrich admits. “I’d gotten the call to Friedland, and was moving to a new place, figuring out the church’s needs and how to address them, and I’d been married about a year. New ministers don’t make a lot, and we were worried about being in a financial hole.”
Instead, Goodrich says, he was able to launch into his ministry right away, working with the youth and young adults’ groups, visiting the homebound and preaching. In addition, his wife, Stephanie, an occupational therapist, was able to travel to Haiti for a month to teach occupational therapy at the University of Haiti. She funded the trip herself without stretching the family finances, thanks to being free of seminary debt.
“It has made our lives so much better, and taken away so much of the stress that we had,” he says. “Thank you, Mr. Spaugh and the MMFA.”
Now, Goodrich says, he wants to honor the extraordinary opportunity he has been given by helping others and passing opportunities along to keep the church thriving, which is the Moravian Ministries Foundation’s mission, as well.
“My interpretation of moving the church forward is leading by example, bringing others to ministry and to Christ,” he says. “I want people who are considering ministry to be able to say, ‘Adam did it, and it turned out OK.’
“Some say that the Moravian church is in a time of transition, but I think that it can be a sign of hope. You have to die to have a resurrection – for the church to be reborn, better than it was. Whatever happens in the future, the world needs the Moravian church.
“God’s put me through seminary, and He’s given me tools to be a part of a transition,” Goodrich says. “Whatever the future holds, I’m excited for it.”