Biography for Pastor Knupp
I was born on August 2, 1962 to Clyde and HeIen (Kimmel) Knupp and am a native of Somerset County growing up on the Beam Church Road near Gray, along with my two older brothers, Blaine and Scott Knupp, and my younger sister, Joyce (Knupp) Walker. I was baptized at Christ Casebeer Lutheran, the church where my father was sexton for over 25 years. I was very involved there in Sunday School, youth choir and youth group, and events like the Sunday School picnic were all day events.
I graduated from North Star High School and then attended Penn State, with two years at the Altoona campus and then at the main campus of University Park. I was very involved in the University Lutheran parish and lived for a time at Luther House.
I worked a summer job of selling Rainbow Sweepers. I returned to this job after my college time where I met my wife, Sharon (Brenneman) while we were both salespeople there. She is originally from Grantsville, MD and came from a Mennonite background. Our daughter Ruth Ann was one of the last children born at Meyersdale Hospital when we lived in Springs, PA. I worked at WAIJ Radio at Grantsville, but seminary was calling me. I went to the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, now part of United Seminary. After two years of study, I had a disastrous internship experience in upstate New York. I returned to seminary to finish the requirements for a Master of Arts in religion, with a Christian Education emphasis. It was during this time that our son, Samuel, was born. I graduated with an MA in 1993 and then worked at churches in Carlisle and Red Lion, PA. It was hard to support a young family this way, and we ended up moving back to Springs. We were attending church at Emmanuel Lutheran in Bittinger, MD when the pastor there took a call in the midwest. Emmanuel was at that time a part of a three point parish, and I was asked to lead worship at the churches. I chalk it up to the Holy Spirit that it worked for a neighboring pastor in Oakland, MD to be my supervisor and the parish to become my internship site. The Emmanuel Lutheran Church was able to do something it had planned for a few years; they could built a new sanctuary to replace its hundred year old building. I learned a lot as the Mission Builders came and the entire community worked together to construct a beautiful worship space that connected to their education building. I continued to serve that parish after my internship as I completed a few more course requirements for seminary, and I again graduated, this time trading in my M.A. for a Master of Divinity degree in 2000. My first call would not be to Bittinger as it was felt that some would not be able to see me as other than as a student. I was called to Trinity Lutheran Church in Martinsburg, WV. On April Fool’s Day, 2000, my ordination took place at Christ Casebeer as a way of expressing my thanks for their support throughout my seminary journey. Sadly, my mother was too ill with Parkinson’s disease to attend, and she passed away in July of that year.
Trinity Lutheran is set in the beautiful peach orchards outside of Martinsburg in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle. While much of West Virginia struggles to retain its population and provide a diverse employment base, this area has been growing for the last few decades with people trying to escape the urban problems of Baltimore and Washington D.C. which is about 70 miles away and accessible by a daily commuter train. Trinity had historically revolved around the needs of a few families, but now people were relocating into the area. They liked the increase in attendance and in giving, but when it came to who assumed church leadership, the long term folks had some problems. I felt deeply for many of the people of the church, but the constant pressure of conflict had me moving on after three years.
To support my family, I worked in a warehouse, and appreciated the feeling of work that left your body but not your spirit tired at the end of the day. I also began helping out doing Sunday pulpit supply with the Capon- North River Lutheran Parish, a four point parish that involved a hundred mile trip there and back again. This parish has a called pastor, but the arrangement was for him to preach two sites and me to preach at two sites each week. We would then alternate sites week to week. These are very small churches that sometimes have single digit attendance at a site. I have actually had services where one person shows up, but we still take the “where two or three are gathered” stuff seriously. It’s just that the proclamation of the word may not have that public speaking flavor. My helping out with the parish turned into something on-going, and I’ve told people that I’ve been “temporarily helping out for the last 14 years”!
In 2004, I answered an ad in the paper for a chaplain position at Hospice of the Panhandle. This involved seeing patients and families in the four eastern most counties of West Virginia. Many folks will assume that this job is sad, but really I found myself swapping stories, singing hymns, telling bad jokes and forming connections of caring with people of various backgrounds and experiences. I met lots of veterans, like a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack or those who still relive Vietnam. Everyone has a story, and where else would I have met someone who dated Joe Dimaggio (she was the blonde before the blonde) or a White House office staffer whose Alzheimer’s disease did not her allow her to recall which presidents she served.
My thirteen years of hospice work took me all over the four county area we served. It was getting hard to go to Wal-Mart and not meet a family member of someone over whose funeral I had presided. However, the last year there had been difficult with a change in management and changes in meeting formats and recording software. I was anticipating finishing the calendar year, but my frustration peaked in early October and I resigned. I was ready for a change.
My opportunities in West Virginia were limited, though, as there were no pastoral vacancies in the area. Sharon and I had an interest in getting back to this area as her parents are elderly and will be needing more help before long.
When I contacted Bishop Rhyne about prospects in Somerset County, he mentioned that Friedens would soon be vacant with Pastor Ed retiring. My initial response was that this congregation was just too different from what I’ve been involved with before. However, the Holy Spirit may be at work here providing for us all on a temporary basis. This interim time should be a time to find a good disposition for our house in Martinsburg, and I can take some time to see to what I’ll be called beyond this interim. For you, my hope is that you continue to fall more deeply in love with Jesus as you both grieve Ed and Pernelle’s departure and search for your next called pastor.
My family is my pride. Sharon has been a homemaker for the last several years. Our daughter Ruth married Donovan Helmick last summer and they live in Kearneysville, WV. He is a special education teacher and she is a massage therapist. Our son Sam is a high functioning autistic person who has worked the last year as a dishwasher at Panera Bread. He will join Sharon and me on this adventure as we depart West Virginia and come into this area. I will be staying with my sister in Sipesville until our house is either sold or rented and Sharon and Sam join me in a residence of our own.
I look forward to being a part of Friedens Lutheran in the coming months. Please keep in mind that while I am originally from the area, the map in my mind is working with old software. It will take some time to learn where folks live and to learn new names. I’ll have a million questions about how things work here, who does what, why, and when, but it’s exciting to anticipate the blessings God has in store for His people in this place.