Howard Lake Herald, December 7, 1998

New pastor at First Presbyterian Church


Missouri is the "Show me" state. The newly installed pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Howard Lake, The Rev. Lisa Rossi, who grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, is not an exception to that.saying.

Rossi needed to be shown that her calling was to serve in the ministry, and that is what happened.

The path was unusual, but it started right away, when she got out of high school.

She focused on chemistry at Hannibal La Grange College for two years, then became employed by American Cyanamid as a chemical technician.

She did a lot of analysis on herbicides, pesticides, and other agricultural products.

"I've been exposed to so many chemicals. It is hard to say what effect it would have on children, if I ever had any," she said.

But Rossi got restless. This was a pattern that kept repeating itself over the years.

She moved on to be a service manager for both the Ford and Chevrolet dealerships in Hannibal.

Each time, something sent her on. She'd say, "This is great, but there has to be something more."

The church was the farthest thing from her mind at this point.

"I was angry with God over some deaths of significant people, and basically told Him to take a hike," she said.

"I was acting like a childish, rebellious teenager," said Rossi.

"One day," she said, "I opened the Bible. It fell open to Job, the 40th chapter, and I read, 'Who are you to judge me?'"

That was the beginning of Rossi's healing process and the real start of her search for meaning in her life.

The actual help did not come until 1988, when her church got an interim pastor. He became her mentor.

"He came at a time when his teaching and strength was what I needed," she said.

"In the 70s I thought I might like to be a minister, but women didn't do that at that time," said Rossi.

By the time Rossi got to the point where she was willing to take a chance, women were being accepted in the ministry.

She had faith that God would give her a sign that this was the right thing to do.

She and Ed Byrd, her mentor, had never spoken about the possibility of the ministry.

But the next day, after placing the whole thing in God's hands, Byrd suggested she might give it some thought.

Rossi did think about it for a couple of weeks. Once she got over the shock of Byrd's statement, she said, "I realized I had to say 'yes.'"

"From that point, I could never see myself not doing this," said Rossi.

Next came the really hard work. She had to go back to college.

Rossi praised her teachers. One, Barry Morgan, even made Greek enjoyable, she said.

Morgan used a text for his theology class written by a former dean of Bethel Theological Seminary in Arden Hills, Millard Erickson.

Rossi completed her studies and, after an additional three years in seminary in Atlanta, was ordained in the First Presbyterian Church in Howard Lake, Nov. 22.

She and her husband, John, have been married six years, and he is the owner of Trinity Painting, based out of Atlanta, Georgia.

For the present, he is building her some cabinets and completing the moving process, she said.

Rossi is eagerly anticipating her new position as pastor and getting to know the members of her church.

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