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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 6, 2011

New pastor at Lynnwood Reformed
A man of letters and a man of the cloth, Schutter plans
to start new ministries for the community

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Reverend William L. Schutter, Ph.D., said he likes being the “new kid on the block” at the Lynnwood Reformed Church.

He began working with the congregation on Dec. 14, and will officially be installed on Jan. 16. The Lynnwood congregation, he said, has been “extremely warm and welcoming” during his transition here from a congregation in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

“We are very lucky to have him,” said Peggy Kniskern, a member of the committee that searched for three years for a new pastor for Lynnwood.

Schutter was ordained in 1974. His father was a minister in the Reformed Church of America for over 50 years, but Schutter said he had to go on his own spiritual quest during his college years, in Hope, Mich., to discover who he was and what he believed.

“I became profoundly convinced that Jesus Christ is who the Bible says he is,” said Schutter of the results of his spiritual journey. His father, he said, affirmed that he had a true calling.

After being ordained in New Jersey, where he grew up, he traveled almost immediately to Cambridge, England, to study the New Testament at Cambridge University. He received his doctorate there.

“The depth of biblical knowledge that I got from my studies both informs and liberates me,” Schutter said. The Bible, according to Schutter, provides many resources that are often overlooked or ignored by failing churches.

The knowledge has led him to write a book, which he is presently finishing, called Removing the Lamp Stand: Biblical Perspectives on Failing Churches.

“We need to have a clearer understanding of the need for intervention before things have gone too far and the church can’t be reclaimed,” said Schutter. He believes part of the reason many churches are failing is popular culture.

“Culture has such a powerful influence over the way Christians think and behave, and many of those behaviors are not healthy,” he said.

The book is not the first one he will have published. Twenty years ago, his doctoral dissertation, titled Hermeneutic and Composition in First Peter, was printed and bound in Germany. It was a comprehensive study of the use of the Old Testament in the disciple Peter’s letter in the New Testament, he said.

While in Cambridge, Schutter co-ministered for two years at one of England’s oldest ecumenical experimental churches. Later, as a specialized interim messenger, he served as a pastor for Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and Quakers.

“I have experienced pastorally the unity of the Body of Christ, and it totally changed my perspective. I really just see a community of persons, and a church is obligated to serve them all,” Schutter said.

In recent years, he had been searching for a long-term position, and was drawn to upstate New York partially because of his familiarity with it and his love for it. He spent some time in the area as a child.

Schutter is hoping that, at Lynnwood, he can consolidate a core of members who will “continue to make the church vital and viable.”

There are just over 200 active, confessing members at Lynnwood Reformed Church, which has been in its present location, on Carman Road, since 1967, but Schutter said he believes there is the opportunity for growth. He wants to start some new ministries for the community, including new kinds of worshipping experiences, Christian education events, and programs for youth and young adults.
He has already started instituting more creative ways of worshipping during the Sunday service at the church. On Sunday, Jan. 2, he used video screens and special music to provide what he called “meditative opportunities.”

“I also expect to have some kind of second Sunday service that will reach out specifically to un-churched people and people who are uncomfortable with traditional church services,” Schutter said. He understands what young people might need from their church, because he has young children himself.

He has 14-year-old twin girls, Jade and Senia, and a son, Benjamin, who is 8. He said his children have been enjoying Guilderland, as has his wife, Jacqueline, who is a specialist in diplomacy and international relations. Schutter also has two older, children, Yolanda and Yann.

Kniskern, who was on the search committee for a new pastor for the church, said of the three-year search for Schutter, “You have to leave it all up to God.”

She went on, “Dr. Schutter seemed like the perfect fit. We are truly blessed to have him.”

“There was a sense of God’s leading me to Lynnwood, a church that has a strong history, character, and opportunity to grow,” said Schutter.

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