SARANAC LAKE - On Sunday, Sept. 22, the Saranac Lake Baptist Church warmly welcomed the Rev. Ryan Schneider to lead his first service as its new pastor. This will be made official at an installation service during the 11 a.m. service Sunday.
Ryan was born in Fond Du Lac, Wis. In 2001, he and his wife Molly joined a mission organization that ran mission trips nationwide. Then for five years, he worked as a pastor in the coal fields of Logan, a town in southern West Virginia. That is where they got married and adopted five children.
Ryan's journey up here began when one of the Lake Placid Baptist Church pastors came to speak at his church in West Virginia. Ryan was interviewed two weeks later and hired two months after that. Ryan and Molly moved to Saranac Lake, and he began working as a pastor for the Lake Placid church that very next Sunday.
Pastor Ryan Schneider holds bobsledders Nic Taylor, left, and Olympic bronze medalist Elana Meyers at a recent baptism ceremony at Lake Colby beach in Saranac Lake.
"I did whatever the church there needed me to do," Ryan said. His main focus was working with teenagers. Ryan did this for almost eight years and says he loved serving in Lake Placid.
Another thing Pastor Ryan is passionate about is mission work, which is where he and others go into other counties, states and even countries to talk to people about Jesus Christ. This has included two trips to Pennsylvania and Vermont, one each to Maine and Ohio, and even trips to Nassau in the Bahamas, where they served in an AIDS orphanage, as well as Nicaragua.
"Having kids see some depressed areas like these and be able to minister to them is important," Ryan said. "It brings about cultural awareness." He said he hopes to show his new church here in Saranac Lake how important these missions really can be.
He mentioned that he has some important goals planned for the Saranac Lake Baptist Church. At the forefront is glorifying God in everything the church does. Secondly, he said he wants to create a church that meets the needs of its community.
"Too many times, churches separate themselves from what goes on in their community and lose their (relevance) that way," Ryan explained. He wants to have a church that is meeting needs and reaching people, and one that loves and cares for one another, too.
As for his long-term objectives, he said, "Missions are an important piece of who we are as a church, and something that I bring to the table as a new pastor is my passion for them, as well as my passion for teaching God's word. I also want to continue to disciple here in the church in Saranac Lake."
One of his biggest goals for his mission, though, is to unite the churches here within the Tri-Lakes community into a common focus. To accomplish this, he plans to use one of his passions - sports.
"God has opened up many doors in the community surrounding here with sports," he said. "Sports are an important piece of who these communities are here. Lake Placid has the Olympic scene. Saranac Lake has one of the largest rugby tournaments around. "If our churches get involved in serving at these events and using sports as an opportunity to serve in their communities, then we can reach people for Christ accordingly."
One of his greatest joys over the past couple of years has been volunteering at the bobsled track in Lake Placid. Two of his sons are part of the junior bobsled program in Lake Placid, so for him it's just being part of a community up here in the North Country. He teaches a closed weekly Bible study with some of the athletes from the Olympic Training Center as well.
"I want Saranac Lake Baptist Church to be more than just a church that you come to weekly and go to potluck dinners once in a while and show up for Bible study and then check out," he said.
He said he wants it to be a living, breathing community, part of the Saranac Lake community that God placed it in. "We have always felt called to the people here in this area and are honored that God has kept us to continue to serve his community here."