For more than 20 years, the Rev. Harold Steindam has played an active role in the Westerville community as he led the Westerville Community United Church of Christ and volunteered with a slew of local organizations.
Steindam, 63, is retiring after a 40-year career as a pastor.
Steindam came to Westerville in 1991 after serving for 18 years as a pastor at other Ohio churches.
He said knew he was facing challenges in coming to Westerville. The church had just constructed a new building at 770 County Line Road, was facing a large debt and already had two other ministers in its seven-year history.
"We began to grow and pay down our debt, which allowed us to grow," Steindam said. "I helped them go from worrying about surviving to thriving."
The church grew in membership and in mission, with members serving in the community and around the world, Steindam said.
As Steindam tackled the problems at the church, he also got involved in a variety of local organizations.
In his first week in Westerville, he attended his first Westerville Area Ministerial Association meeting. Through that group, he learned about the Westerville Area Resource Ministry (WARM) and got involved in the board.
Steindam also became active in the Rotary Club of Westerville, served on the board of directors the Westerville Fund and in 2000, he joined the Westerville Division of Police's fledgling chaplain program.
Steindam said he was lucky to find a church that supported his active civic involvement and, at the same time, valued its own role in the community.
"They chose to be 'community,' and we've chosen to be known in the community," Steindam said.
When Steindam moved to Westerville to take on the church, he said he had no idea the community would become his permanent home and that he would retire from the Westerville Community UCC.
"It just happened to be that as I was open to a new call and turning 40 and looking for something different that I heard about this church," Steindam said. "When I came here, I didn't know I'd finish my career here."
As the community and the church grew, Steindam said he constantly faced new challenges in his career, which kept him active and engaged for the more than 20 years that he's served here.
"As the church kept growing, I needed to grow, as well. It's been exciting because Westerville's been growing as long as I've been here," Steindam said. "It's not just been like doing the same thing year after year for 23 years."
The community also made an ideal home for him and his family, which includes wife Jenny and children Nevin, Caleb and Sara, Steindam said.
Steindam cites wanting to spend more time with his family, which now includes daughter-in-law Alicia and granddaughter Arden, as one of his main reasons for retiring.
After taking a retirement trip next month and enjoying the holidays with their family, Steindam and his wife, who also is an ordained UCC minister, will spend several months on a mission trip to Jubilee Partners, a small, self-sustaining Christian community in Georgia that helps foreign refugees prepare for life in the United States.
Beyond that, Steindam said, the couple isn't making any finite plans.
"I'll keep trusting God's lead," he said.