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Pastor who founded area church retires

The Rev. Chris Marshall, founder of New Life Christian Ministries in Clinton Township, retired following his final regular sermon on Sunday, June 30.

CLINTON TWP — His ministry has been a labor of love that culminated in a church that more than 700 people attend each weekend, but the Rev. Chris Marshall will now become just another member of the congregation he founded in April 2001.

Marshall, founding pastor at New Life Christian Ministries, preached his final sermon Sunday, June 30.

Marshall said that in 2018 he was having prayer time, which did not include questions about retirement.

“God said ‘June 30, 2024, is your last day,’” he said.

After months of discussion with his wife, Nancy, then other leaders at New Life, Marshall announced his impending retirement in February 2022.

Marshall started out as pastor of Crestview Presbyterian Church in West Chester, Ohio, where he served for five years before being called to Glade Run Presbyterian Church in Middlesex Township in February 1990.

He served as lead pastor there for 11 years, during which time the Logos children and youth programs began.

“At its peak, we had 120 kids,” Marshall said. “On the average night, we’d have 50 to 60 adult volunteers from the church.”

A gymnasium, fellowship hall and preschool Christian education rooms were added in an 11,000-square-foot addition project during his time at Glade Run Presbyterian.

In 2001, Marshall left the Presbyterian Church USA for theological reasons, and planned to become a carpenter to support his family.

“We believe the church was becoming less faithful to conservative, Biblical truth,” he said of his decision to leave the denomination.

Two days later, a church member who agreed with Marshall donated some money and suggested he start a church that follows traditional values.

Another man then told Marshall his grandfather owned property in the Ivywood neighborhood of Clinton Township, and a church building was on the property.

“On April 1, 2001, I met Earl McRoberts, who was 89. I walked into the church in Ivywood and he said ‘I’ve been praying for someone to fill this church,” Marshall recalled. “I got tears in my eyes and said ‘Mr. McRoberts, I think I’m your man.’”

The first service at the Ivywood church was held on April 8, 2001.

“One hundred 10 people showed up,” Marshall said. “Some were from Glade Run, some from the defunct church, and some were curious about us.”

After a few years, the congregation outgrew the Ivywood building and moved to the Knoch School District campus. Services were held in the high school auditorium and the elementary school.

The current church property on Knoch Road was purchased in 2005, and the new building was completed and the first service held there in 2013.

Marshall said an addition for children’s ministry was completed in 2015.

“At this point, we have 35,000 square feet of building here,” he said. “God has done amazing things.”

In addition to the 700-plus worshippers on Sunday, a few hundred watch the service live online.

“I think we’ve been successful because we’ve sought to preach and live the word of God in truth and love,” Marshall said. “The goal from Day 1 has been to welcome people and reach lost people.

“We’ve had an intentional focus on the Bible and live in the joy and power of the Holy Spirit.”

Marshall said he counts one accomplishment as his most cherished while leading New Life Christian Ministries.

“Hundreds of people who didn’t know Jesus now do,” he said.

He is also proud of the church’s 15 trips to Cuba to train pastors, 15 trips to Cambodia to work with orphans and build a job training center, and mission trips to Haiti, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

“Mission has been a central focus at New Life since Day 1,” Marshall said.

He said the future of New Life is in very capable hands with the Rev. Alex DeRosa, who took over the job of lead pastor in January.

DeRosa said Marshall’s goal has always been to reach the lost. He added that he admires his mentor’s tenacity in building the church from the ground up.

“Chris is someone who never forgets what really matters,” DeRosa said.

He looks forward to a continued friendship and pastoral relationship with Marshall when the latter becomes a regular church member.

“I’m thankful for the fact that he and I will still be meeting, so I will continue to get wisdom and guidance and training from him,” DeRosa said.

DeRosa said he has learned many important lessons from Marshall, but one will remain his beacon in any storm.

“When we put Jesus first and the mission first, it makes all the hard decisions we have to make in this job more simple,” he said.

DeRosa said he is not the only one who will miss Marshall’s presence in the office and sanctuary.

“He has been a father to all of us on staff,” he said. “He’s cared for us like we are his kids, and we appreciate that. And Nancy has been like a mother.”

Marshall, who earned his master’s degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and his doctorate from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, plans to travel with Nancy to visit the couple’s four grown children, who live in South Carolina, Taiwan, Texas and California, respectively.

He also will continue as a leadership consultant at Penn United Technology in Jefferson Township, which he has been doing for nine years.

Marshall also will mentor youth pastors in retirement.

“If you are seeking to respond to Jesus’ call in your life, I want to help you do that,” he said.

A reception to celebrate Marshall was held on Sunday evening at the church at 139 Knoch Road, Saxonburg.

The Rev. Chris Marshall, founder of New Life Christian Ministries in Clinton Township, retired following his final regular sermon on Sunday, June 30.

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