Couple Serve God, Church Community Together in Middletown

April 25, 2014
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KingofKings2-alter-IMG_8292By John Burton

MIDDLETOWN – Joshua and Rachel Semovoski share everything.

They share a life as a married couple, they are parents to their nearly 2-year-old daughter, Samantha, and their spiritual journey has led them to careers in the ministry. Now, they are preparing to be installed together as pastors at King of Kings Lutheran Church.

The Semovoskis, who have been married five years, shared ministry duties at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Taneytown, Md., before being selected and relocating in January to serve at King of Kings.

The couple will be formally installed as the church’s newest pastors during a 4 p.m. service on Sunday, April 27, at the 250 Harmony Road church.

Married couples pulling double duty “is definitely not the norm” to be pastors for a congregation, Rachel said, with her husband noting this is the first time for King of Kings.

“A lot of clergy couples ask to not work together,” seeking their own professional paths, Rachel acknowledged.

Working together wasn’t necessarily a condition for their employment here, Joshua said. But, when their names and biographies came under consideration by the church’s call committee which was searching for a new pastor, the Semovoskis decided to accept the position as a couple.

They have known each other since their seminary days. “We complement each other,” Rachel said.

Joshua, who is 32, and Rachel, 30, met while attending the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa., the oldest Lutheran seminary in the country. They each held separate clergy positions, with Joshua having worked for a church in Naples, Fla., and Rachel having served a congregation in Woodbridge, Va.

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Working together, sharing the responsibilities of their calling, has real benefits, they said.
Serving a congregation and its spiritual and often emotional needs can be demanding. “The ministry can be a lonely profession. Everything falls on your shoulders, the good and the bad,” Rachel said. But sharing those obligations with a loved one means, “you don’t feel so alone,” she noted.

“It gives us an opportunity to work in a unique environment,” sharing those burdens with someone who can help carry them, Joshua explained.

Joshua was baptized Roman Catholic as an infant and was “raised more Catholic than probably anything else.”  His parents, who were career military, serving in the U.S. Air Force, wound up moving frequently and eventually started attending Lutheran services in Virginia. Joshua sensed the calling to the ministry while attending Marshall University in West Virginia, where he majored in history. “I knew it was something that I wanted to do,” he said.

Rachel was raised in South Jersey, and attended Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, majoring in literature and Jewish studies.

Her father is a Lutheran minister. Growing up with a parent who is in the ministry, “You either embrace it or you wind up resisting,” she said. “I embraced it.”

The couple alternate weeks performing services and delivering sermons, and with Joshua taking on most of the church’s administrative responsibilities. Rachel’s role includes overseeing the church’s preschool program, which has about 185 students, and their daughter who will be 2 in May. She will enroll in the school in September.

For Joshua, the joy of the ministry comes in great part from being there for “families in joy and in crisis,” offering support and comfort when needed.

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For Rachel, the joy of her job is when she sees the “God moment” in the eyes of people. “Those little, tiny moments when it really works, when someone realizes that they’ve been touched by God … That’s why I continue to be a pastor.”

King of Kings Church was established in 1959, first meeting at Bayview School in the township’s Belford section. The church was completed in 1960. The congregation is made up of about 170 families.


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