Rev. Joe Wendorph
Although Joe was raised in his neighborhood Presbyterian Church and was active in the student ministry, his faith didn’t became dynamically activated until he joined the Young Life Club in high school. The relational style of ministry coupled with sharing the adventure of the Jesus story in its natural fullness, set him on a path toward helping people experience God’s love in Jesus Christ.
“It may sound corny but since my youth, I’ve felt that God had something important for me to do. I’ve been on that path ever since.”
Pastor Joe graduated from Jacksonville University, magna cum laude in 1983, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and was inducted into Psi Chi (National Honor Society in Psychology for academic achievement). He completed a Master of Divinity in 1986 from Columbia Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the PCUSA in 1987. Not surprisingly, his first call was to be the Area Director for Young Life’s student outreach ministry in East Volusia County/Daytona Beach.
“Having a sound theological education is important, however my post graduate training in Pastoral Psychotherapy had enabled me to weave Young Life’s simple message of the Gospel and a ministry of caring into a form that suits my personality and calling. Imagine that, God using the basics of my life to form a disciple!”
In 1993, Joe completed a three-year advanced degree program in Pastoral Psychotherapy. Changes came in 1996, as he moved on from the Young Life staff to become the Parish Associate at Christ Presbyterian Church. In 1998, he was called to be Associate Pastor at CPC and served until 2004. On October 5, 2005, he assumed the called position as Pastor/Head of staff at Markham Woods Presbyterian Church in Lake Mary where Joe continues to serve today.
“I love seeing people become energized in their faith. The Young Life “evangelist” in me gets enthusiastic when someone who knows little about God, faith or Jesus, discovers the real secret of a full and meaningful life. The mentor in me loves to see someone be “called up” in their faith and become a Jesus with skin on type for someone else. The pastor in me loves to come alongside the personal stories of people and walk with them through what Psalm 23 calls the shadow valleys of their life. When a group of Christians forms and lives out these aspects of faith, then they are living the church. So, I get excited as MWPC lives the Church!”
Growing up a surfer, skier and adventurer, Joe is energized by creating and building things, be it with his hands or mind. You will frequently see him utilizing his guitar during his ministry or even fixing a leak in the water sprinklers. However, after his travels to Israel, he has been enthralled with the Old Testament. Can you believe it, the “boring” old testament?
“My travels to Israel and studies of not only Jesus’ cultural setting in which he shares His Gospel, but a deeper understanding of ancient Paleo-Hebrew has opened up the full palette of colors for me in the Gospel itself.”
Today, Joe is a husband, father and pastor. After meeting on a “blind date,” he and his wife Alisa have now been married for more than 35 years. They are blessed with two adult children, Cara and Rachel. There have also been Guinea pigs, mice, a dog and a cat along the way!
“We don’t need scientific studies or psychological theses to tell us we long for something beyond ourselves. Even more, we long for a loving relationship that make sense out of our being. I have found only one answer to this longing that makes any lasting sense – it’s a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ. The community at MWPC creates the perfect platform to not only grow faith in God through Jesus, but to follow that up with Jesus’ imperative to reach out to a lost, hurting and all-too-often lonely world. Markham Woods is a place where all these components of faith push forward for the Kingdom of God.”
“God called, grew, and groomed me for His purpose. Now, for the past 14 years, it has been to be God’s disciple, God’s apostle and God’s pastor for Markham Woods. As long as God can use me to accomplish God’s purpose for this faith community, or, until that call, as guided by the Holy Spirit changes, I serve.”