I must drive by the Tewksbury United Methodist Church at least twice a day. If you don't really know the church, I bet you have noticed the bronze statue in front of it. It is of 4 children sitting in a circle, feet touching. It is called "Touching Souls". It is really beautiful if you have ever stopped to look at it. Gracing the front of the church, it has been there since 1993. I made my journey to the Tewksbury United Methodist Church the other day to meet the newest pastor there. His name is Trey Witzel. He is only 24 years old! I had heard some of the buzz about him and his unconventional ways of preaching and teaching. What I discovered not only surprised myself, but I think will open some of your eyes too. Please read on.
Hollie Gonzalez - Tell me where you are from, a little about yourself, and how long you have been here.
Trey Witzel - I am originally from Oklahoma City. I moved here in 2014. I am married to my amazing wife Addison. We moved to Boston first before Tewksbury. We had a small apartment near Fenway Park. (I asked, he is a Red Sox fan now.) I have been in Tewksbury since June of this year. I love it here. It is such an awesome community to be part of.
HG - What type of schooling did you have to become a pastor? And did you always want to be one?
TW - Well, I grew up in the church. My mother was a youth minister and very actively involved in the church. My freshman year of High School I went on a great summer mission trip and it pretty much sealed the deal for me. I became an admissions councilor with the United Methodist Institution. I went to OCU and got a degree in Religion and Philosophy. I worked for the religious life department in college and was constantly a part of facilitating religious life on campus. I graduated in 2014. I am currently working on my Master of Divinity Degree at Boston University School of Theology. I am not fully ordained yet, but am working on it. I am a local licensed Pastor. I was doing mostly internships and assisting pastors, but I had a job offer to come here to Tewksbury and the rest is history.
HG - What is the difference between Methodist and Catholic?
TW - They are in a way like second cousins. Protestant came from the Church of England, then Methodist. Basically the teaching is the same, but Methodist is not as formal, we are the more casual scene. We do not have as many rituals. For example, It would not be out of the ordinary for me to sit in the middle of the aisle on a stool and give the Sunday sermon. I walk up and down the aisle, and talk to everyone. Very rarely will you find me behind the pulpit. I like to be involved closely with the service and the people that come here. And, I might pick up my guitar in the middle of it all and sing a contemporary song, versus just a basic hymn.
HG - Can anyone come to a service here?
TW - My motto is "All Welcome". We are open to everyone regardless of race, or religion. Some people refer to us as the great equalizer. We offer a Sunday mass at 10am. Anyone and everyone can come and join. We will never turn someone down. We also encourage you to bring your children. It is a very comfortable and welcoming church. Our attendance has doubled here in the last 3 months!
HG - What does the Methodist Church offer in the way of programs, or seminars, and space usage?
TW - We not only offer our basic services, which include, Mass and communion, but we have line dancing twice a week. There is a TOPS program that meets here. We have girl scout meetings here. An AA Group meets here in our meeting space. We have Children's religion classes, and Sunday school. We also have rock bands that come and use our space downstairs to have their shows. It has a stage and great concert space. Anyone can come and see them. ( note.. How cool, Aerosmith started out performing in a church basement). We have a young adult ministry that meets once a week at various restaurants to discuss what's going on in the world and to give our opinions. I also am working on getting a youth group started for grades 6 thru 12. Something else I do on Wednesdays is send out a video to anyone who signs up to receive our emails. It is just a middle of the week, kind of pick me up. Something nice and personal that not many churches offer.
HG - What do you think about working in Tewksbury? Likes? Dislikes?
TW - I love it overall. It definitely feels more like home then being in a big city like Boston. I love the town feel. My wife and I have been able to make friends, just by walking our dog Winne. There are a lot of dogs in Tewksbury. The toughest thing for me personally is meeting new people. I am really looking forward to the new Bowling Alley being built. I think that will be a great place for families and friends to gather.
HG - What do you say to people who may or may not believe in God?
TW - Good Question. You know, I look at it as this. God created us to be with people. He wants us to be with people. It is important to be part of a community. I think the best way for people to experience God, weather they know it or not is to be part of a community. Just to be cared for or care for someone else is part of God. "Many hands make light work." I personally am a huge believer in being part of something.
HG - What would you like to see more of from your parishioners?
- Attendance obviously. I would really like to see more new faces in church. The more people I can talk to, the better. I want our church community to always reach out and help other people. The church is here for that purpose. You know, this church is not only here for worship purposes. We are available for functions too. We have a great space downstairs that can be used for birthday parties, anniversaries, get togethers, meetings..etc. Anyone can call here to book the space. And please visit our website too. It is newly redone and offers a lot of information about the church. www.tewksburyumc.com
. Something else I want to mention too is that if someone or some organization needs volunteers for any reason, please call here, I will be happy to help and get my parishioners involved too. That is why we are here, to help.
HG - What do you want people to know about you?
TW - That I am very honest. I am here for you. If you have the guts to ask me a question, then I will tell you a truthful answer, like it or not. I am always here and my door is always open. I am here to serve the whole community, not just the church.
HG - I noticed they took the Celtic Cross down on the roof, and just now put it back. Was it damaged?
TW - Funny story Hollie. So I live in the house next door, and one day I was coming outside and saw them taking it down, so I ran over like hey..what's going on??... Well, that cross houses a phone signal tower inside of it and it was coming down for repairs. They forgot to tell me. But its back now and all is well.
My experience with Pastor Trey was quite enlightening. He was not at all what I expected. He was honest, truthful, down to earth. He was very excited to be talking about the Tewksbury United Methodist Church. His ways of teaching may not be conventional, but isn't that great for a change? I think we all could use a little escape from the norm once and a while. He gave me a tour of the over 100 year old church. I didn't realize how big it is inside. It really does house a stage downstairs, and has plenty of room for anyone's needs. There are some things that are in the process of being fixed. The kitchen needs a new fan, and the roof needs some work. They are adding some more secure doors to the property. For the most part the church is in good shape and it seems like Pastor Try Witzel has some really big plans to keep it that way. He even added some candles that anyone can go in and light, weather it be for a memory, or a prayer. In front of the pews, and behind the not so often used pulpit is an amazingly large and beautiful window. The light colors coming through it were so pretty. You have to go in to see it. While your are there, say hi to Tewksbury's newest Pastor.
Quick 5 - Pastor Trey Witzel
Favorite Snack - popcorn
Last song you sang out loud - Homegrown by the Zac Brown Band
Favorite Smell - my puppy
1957 Chevy Bel Air or 2016 Chevy Corvette - Corvette, definitely
Rain boots or snow boots - Snow Boots
(Hollie Gonzalez lives in Tewksbury with her husband and two kids. She is very passionate about her town.)
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