Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2014, 2:40 pm

Church spotlights pastor's 10th anniversary

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

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Photo: Todd Welvaert / twelvaert@qconline.com
First Baptist Church Rev. Janet Waychoff stands for a portrait in the church's sanctuary, on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014.
ROCK ISLAND -- Old Proverbs and new LED lights help First Baptist's congregation and pastor clearly see God's blessings.

Parishioners will help celebrate 10 years of blessings the Rev. Janet Waychoff has enjoyed as their pastor on Sunday, Feb. 23.

Worship services will be at 10:30 a.m., followed by a luncheon featuring brisket, chicken and barbecue sauce catered by Dickey's Barbecue Pit. Church committee members will add homemade potato salad, baked beans, chips and a cake.

Lunch will be $6 for adults and free for children. For information or to make reservations, call the church office at 309-786-2617.

"It will be a thanksgiving to God," Rev. Waychoff said.

She will base her morning sermon on Proverbs 3:5-6, which reads" "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.''

Rev. Waychoff took a second career path into the ministry. She was a freelance court reporter in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1982 to 2000.

"Things were going good," she said. "But my whole life changed when I felt the call to the ministry. Then I had to sell my home, my business and some of my possessions," and move to the Chicagoland area to enroll at the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard.

She graduated in 2003 with a Master of Divinity degree. She was ordained in October 2003 at First Baptist Church in Oak Park, where she was an associate pastor focused on evangelism, outreach and church growth until called to Rock Island in 2004.

Rev. Waychoff became the church's first female pastor in its 176-year history.

The church was looking for a pastor dedicated to a "mission routine of going out into the community," she said, adding that her love of community outreach projects "made it a good marriage."

She complimented the support she's received from church leaders, committee members and her congregation in general.

Comprehensive outreach efforts began by launching an Awana program, a fully integrated nationally-known evangelism and discipleship program for those ages 2 to 18. The church also began holding outdoor carnival-like activities for families.

"We continued to grow until we got a nice blend of young and old families," Rev. Waychoff said.

"In '09, we began an outreach at Eugene Field School, under the umbrella of the Child Evangelism Fellowship," with church volunteers providing free after-school help for students for five to six weeks twice each year, Rev. Waychoff said.

The Good News Sunday School program, launched in 2010, rolled Awana activities into it, she said. "We've also done a lot of renovations during my time here to make the church more welcome and friendly."

Church members built a large picnic shelter/pavilion on a 3/4 acre lot in the backyard, dubbed "Our Field of Dreams," she said.

Last year, a canopy was added over one of the church entrances to make it easier and more accessible for families with young children and the elderly, Rev. Waychoff said.

A church parlor was renovated, including installation of new LED lighting replacing old yellow-tinted lights, she said, adding that church members so liked the renovated parlor, they voted to put LED lighting into the sanctuary, too.

"That was a major change," Rev. Waychoff said, adding that it helped spotlight God's blessings.

The Rev. Janet L. Waychoff
Birthdate: Sept. 22, 1952.
Address: Rock Island.
Hometown: Waynesburg, Pa.
Education: 1970 Waynesburg High School graduate; 1972 Duff's Business Institute graduate, with an associate's degree in court reporting; Cincinnati Bible University, 1997-2000, graduating with a bachelor's degree; Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, graduating in 2003 with a Master of Divinity degree, and in her third year of a doctorate of ministry program, starting in 2011, and expecting to graduate in 2015; ordained in October 2003 at First Baptist Church, Oak Park, Ill.
Family: Single; family and friends.
Hobbies: Swimming, walking with her dog, Cuddles, a 5-year-old cock-a-poo; cross country skiing, bicycling.
Favorite Scripture: Proverbs 3:5-6.
Biblical figure: The Samaritan woman.
I wish I knew how to: Sing.