LITTLE VALLEY - Words of God spread by the late Pastor Karl Morgenstern of Valley View Baptist Church will live in the hearts of people to whom he spoke them, both far and near.
Morgenstern died Saturday after spreading that message around the world.
"He was a church planter," said Darylene Whitcomb of the church's women's ministry.
Pastor Karl Morgenstern
Morgenstern began planting those churches after graduating from Lancaster Bible College, Pa. A native of Gillette, Pa. he began preaching at camp ministries as an evangelist, working with youth, preaching at churches including Swedeland Chapels, East Granville, Pa.. When a Baptist church was desired in Little Valley, he drove the three hours each way it took him as often as needed to get that church in 1979. He was later called to pastor the church in 1996.
Even after the church was firmly planted, Pastor Morgenstern continued to want to grow God's words in others. Perhaps that is why Mrs. Whitcomb said he always wanted to pass out a small book known as a "smiley track," which consists of a smiley face and Bible passage directing people to God.
"Smile Jesus loves you," the tracks remind.
"Everybody want(s) a smile," said Mrs. Whitcomb.
Not only was Pastor Morgenstern ready to give them that but also tell them how he thought they could continue to wear one. He wanted to introduce them to his Christ, the living God, said Church Deacon Jeff Zarcizny. He said accepting God changes one's concept of life.
"Your outlook changes from I, I, I, to what can I do for someone else-how can I help someone else," said Zarcizny.
"He walked the walk," Zarcizny said about Morgenstern. "He had a willingness to put himself out," said Cattaraugus's Barb Brown about Pastor Morgenstern. "He'd help anybody. It didn't matter who you were," she said, adding the pastor once stayed at a hospital for days to talk and pray with family during her illness.
"You don't get too many people who would do that," she said, adding, however, Pastor Morgenstern wanted to make sure people got the message that they should do things like that.
Mrs. Brown said the pastor would not only step out of his "comfort zone" to help others but wanted to help people understand they too should do so.
He traveled to Lithuania and Quebec to spread that message, along with doing so at home.
"He had a burden for souls," said Mrs. Whitcomb. "It was on the top of the list of his life," she said.
"His heart was for other people," said Zarcizny about Morgenstern. In fact, said Deacon Pete Perez, Morgenstern just wanted to give people the gift of God he wanted them to accept, just like the Smiley track says.
Suppose you had an incurable disease, it states, questioning if the person with that disease would visit a doctor who had a free cure.
"You can have faith that the doctor's medicine will cure you, but unless you receive it personally, you are still lost," the track reads, challenging the readers to have enough faith to accept God's gift.
"Share a smile today," urges the track Morgenstern spread. After all, those who do can learn to "walk the walk" just like Zarcizny said Morgenstern did.
Visiting hours are from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Mentley Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Valley View Baptist Church. Memorial gifts can be given to Valley View Baptist Church.
Morgenstern is survived by his wife of 44 years, Lucille, and sons, Jonathan, and Mark, who is married to Megan. They have a son, Jack.
He was the son of the late Sayre and Jessie and the brother of Suzanne, Dale, Jay and the late Henry.