TROY — The Troy community recently welcomed back one of its own as the Rev. Frank Rupnik III returned to accept a position with First Presbyterian Church, located at 20 S. Walnut St.
Rupnik, who has been working at First Presbyterian since August, was officially installed as Reverend on Sunday, Feb. 24. The installation was overseen by the Presybytery of Miami Valley, a governing body of the Presbyterian Church.
Rupnik grew up in Troy and graduated from Troy High School in 1997, along with his eventual wife, Stephanie.
Rupnik enlisted in the United States Navy, while Stephanie attended Miami University. It was during his tenure with the Navy that Rupnik found his calling in the ministry.
“While I was in the Navy, I had some very influential military chaplains and I matured in my faith,” Rupnik said. “When I got off active duty, I came back to Troy and became a member of this congregation before heading off to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kentucky. I’ve continued to serve as a Navy reserve chaplain since.”
After being ordained, Rupnik pastored a church in Loveland, Ohio for five years, followed by a church in Brooklyn, Mich. for eight years. Eventually, Rupnik and his wife, Stephanie, felt the time was right to bring their three kids back to Ohio.
“We wanted our kids to be closer to their grandparents, who are in Ohio,” Rupnik said. “Ohio’s where we grew up. We liked the schools here, and we were just happy with Ohio. We began looking at available churches in Ohio, not knowing where we would be. When the Troy church had an availability, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really interesting.’
Rupnik conducted an interview process with First Presbyterian Church through the summer.
“As one thing progressed to another, it just seemed right,” Rupnik said. “The odds for me to be looking at the same time the church would have an availability is definitely God working. The previous pastor was here 17 years, and one before that was here for 26, so it’s a very narrow window.
“Had this church been looking for somebody six months before or six months after, we would’ve just missed each other. There’s only one Presbyterian church in Troy with only one position for a pastor, so I truly believe that God had a plan.”
Following a nearly 20-year absence from the Miami County area as a regular citizen, Rupnik noted the growth of the community upon his family’s return, both in its infrastructure and positive spirit.
“A lot of the area has grown,” Rupnik said. “I remember when Wal-Mart and Meijer came in, but all of those extensions out there have really built up. There’s been such a big resurgence in the downtown community. I’m happy to be back home, but now I’m viewing it through a different lens. When you’re younger, you don’t look at taxes or schools. You don’t look at things as a father or as an older adult.
“When we came back here, we didn’t get the sense that this was the same town we left. It’s almost like it’s come more alive. I feel very positive about the direction of the city, and I look forward to being part of that as a citizen, a father, and as a minister.”
Rupnik exclaimed that his hopes are for the congregation are to build up ministries and activities for churchgoers of all ages.
“I’m really trying to build ministries for the whole family,” Rupnik said. “I think it’s important for any church. There’s a lot of churches that retain mostly senior citizens, and sometimes busy families need that place where they can worship. I think of my own family and how busy we are, and how important it is for my family to establish that foundation of faith.
“When you’re dealing with ministry for older adults, they often already have that foundation of faith. My goal would be to support the pillars of the church, but also establish the foundation for the next generation.”
Rupnik specified that the aspect he finds most rewarding about his job is the connectivity it allows him to experience with others during their most special moments.
“I enjoy connecting the Word of God to people’s lives,” Rupnik said, of his job. “The other thing I really like are those unique moments that I’m able to be with people. When a couple is getting married, I’m up there with the bride and groom. When a couple has their baby baptized, or even unfortunately, when people are saying goodbye to a dying loved one, those are all key life moments the average person just doesn’t see in a normal job.
“To be able to bring the presence of God to people in those most special moments that they’ll remember forever is very powerful. It’s humbling for me, because these things are only going to happen once, so you want to provide the families what they need in that time. I feel very privileged to be in those circumstances.”
For more information on the church, visit “First Presbyterian Church, Troy, Ohio” on Facebook.