Pastor Richard Pfeil didn’t come to faith easily.
When he was young he found church irrelevant; the benches hard, the pastor confusing and his Sunday School teacher mean. He rejected religion as he saw it. Years later, when he discovered authentic faith and intellectually satisfying answers to the big questions in life, he made church his life’s work. Pfeil, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, came to Klamath after nine years in California and many of his early years in Pennsylvania. He loves the mountains, wildlife and farmland and is impressed by the musical talent he sees here, rivaling his former visits to the Pittsburgh Philharmonic.
He finds value in what church offers in teaching grace in individual interactions as well as civility, forgiveness and better listening. It teaches love and friendship, with a ready-made group of people to find help from and support in overcoming challenges. He worked at Home Depot for a short stint and was amazed at how many people would buy an expensive tool rather than borrow it, because they had no friends from whom they could ask. Church also inspires hope that we can be better and that God can give us a vision for our own lives. He feels that Christ’s sacrifice helps us to overcome our inadequacies and bestows the fruits of the Spirit.
Located next door to the Ross Ragland Theater, First Presbyterian was concerned about local downtown businesses surviving the forced pandemic closures. Pastor Pfeil challenged his congregation at the Christmas service to donate ten times the normal amount and came close to reaching that goal. They took the $13,000 they raised and found nearby businesses in the most jeopardy of closing down to help keep afloat. They also regularly have an angel tree to help the children of people in jail and Operation Christmas Child for sending gifts to the neediest children in other countries.
First Presbyterian feels strongly about supporting people who are trying to break addiction and are working to be better parents. They host NA meetings nearly every day of the week with four different groups accessing their building. They also host MOPS (Mother’s of Preschool Children) to give support to young mothers as well as a Christian athlete program that helps students learn about goal setting, teamwork, victory and loss.
Their building is known for its beautiful architecture and stained glass windows, and many people enjoy sitting in the peaceful setting and using it as a time of pondering. They regularly host music lessons and concerts out of their building and have a biweekly brunch open to the entire community with safe physical distancing.
First Presbyterian runs a Farm to Family program in the summer where they share hundreds of boxes of produce, meat and dairy every other week. This is on top of regular benevolent outreach of help with rent, counseling, job search support, advocacy and simply helping with charging cell phones. They have a visitation team that has been able to visit every home-bound member of their church.
Pastor Pfeil believes that they offer a unique, middle ground approach to faith for the community and deal with the hot topic questions in society with answers to justice, the racial divide, sexuality, and the environment. He continues preaching the message that the creator of the universe has a better vision for ourselves than we have and that if we actually live scripture out, it will shape us in amazing ways. Pfeil finds church quite relevant and continues to lead First Presbyterian in sharing that message.