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October 3, 2012

Bethel Christian pastor celebrates 25 years with church, service in the community

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

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Pastor William J. Farina and his wife, Roberta, came to Bethel Christian Church in 1987.

Over the past 25 years, Bethel Christian Church pastor William J. Farina has seen members of his congregation come and go. And by come and go, he’s seen some come into this world and others leave it for the next. 

Many of the Pentecostal church’s core members who were there when he arrived in 1987 have since passed away. Others, who he met soon after their births and later baptized, are now getting married and having families of their own.

But like his father, who has spent more than 30 years leading a congregation in Pennsylvania, or his two uncles who’ve done the same for more than 40 years, Farina isn’t looking to go anywhere — at least, not unless the Lord’s business calls and he’s needed someplace else.

“My feeling is this: It takes time, a long time, to building something,” Farina said last month, a few days after the congregation gathered at the church on 11 Mile Road, west of Schoenherr, to celebrate his 25-year milestone. “A wrecking ball takes a building down in a short time. It takes a long time to build something brick by brick.”

Farina and his wife, Roberta, said he tried to bring stability and growth to the congregation through an emphasis on strong, Bible-based teaching.

Bethel’s vision statement evokes the image of an eagle, its wings spread wide “touching Heaven and the Earth,” signifying a closeness to God and a commitment to service in the world.

But when the family arrived at Bethel, they came to a church that had gone 18 months without a pastor. Before that, Bethel had three different pastors in an eight-year span.

Farina said he wanted to bring stability to the church, and he hoped his efforts to be there for the everyday needs of the congregation have helped the church grow over the past 25 years.

Roberta Farina said one of her husband’s greatest strengths is his style of preaching. 

“He’s one of the best preachers you’ll ever hear,” she said. “What he teaches is very positive and applicable for everyday living. People really benefit from it.”

Both at the pulpit and away from it, Farina tries to practice what he preaches.

He spent 18 years on the Warren Woods Public Schools Board of Education, ending in 2009. He also currently serves in a volunteer role as a chaplain for the Warren Police Department.

The couple now lives in Clinton Township, and they have two adult sons: Andrew, 28, and Stephen, 26. Both men are involved at the church. Stephen Farina is Bethel’s youth pastor.

With 25 years at Bethel behind him, William Farina said he’s ready for what the future holds, should God’s will continue to call him to serve the community, and the church’s congregation of about 250. 

“I’m really excited about going forward. It’s not like I’m looking to wind down here,” he said, “Providing God and the people will have us.”

Bethel Christian Church is located at 13200 11 Mile Road in Warren.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.