“The gift I wanted to share.”: Mack Lampert retires after 20 years as financial secretary, Charlie Sowers served 28 years as treasurer
By Susan Shinn Turner
If you think about it, St. John’s is like a big business, and it needs businesspeople to help it run smoothly. Mack Lampert and Charlie Sowers have been two of those people.
That’s exactly why the Rev. Carl Sachtleben, a former senior pastor, asked Mack Lampert to serve as financial secretary in 1995.
After 20 years, Mack retired from those duties in June. Brenda Munday is now serving in the volunteer role that has evolved into a financial advisory position, according to Mack.
“Carl asked me to focus on the revenue side,” Mack remembers. “The big issue was that we had not sent out quarterly statements in a timely manner. So I helped with that and helped get giving envelope boxes ordered — pretty mechanical things.”
Both Mack and Charlie predated the finance committee, Mack says, which was formed in 2005.
“I looked at the revenue and cost side of the budget and developed it from there into a financial advisory position,” Mack notes. “Brenda Munday is picking it up real quick, so it’s in good hands.”
All of this work has been second nature to Mack, who retired in 1993. He and his father started Norman’s of Salisbury, and Mack served as an owner and general manager in the home furnishings industry.
“If I have a gift, it’s operational management and structure,” he says. “St. John’s has a multimillion-dollar cash flow and needs good management and structure.”
Both the financial secretary and treasurer serve as ex-officio members of the Congregation Council, Mack explains. So he worked not only with council, but also with Ruth Ann Diehl, St. John’s longtime business manager.
Unlike a regular business, the staff and volunteers must develop a budget that balances costs with expected revenues.
“In a church, you’re generating costs with the hope of getting revenues. That’s the hope of all churches,” Mack notes. “We’ve had a successful stewardship campaign the past couple of years. We have a very large campus and a very large payroll, with dynamic programs. All of that requires staffing — quality staffing. That’s the cost of dynamic discipleship.”
In setting aside his responsibilities at St. John’s, he and wife Meetta plan to travel more. They have two grandchildren in Raleigh, 24 and 17, and triplet 8-year-old grandchildren in Colorado. They try to visit often to help out the parents.
“We basically run a shuttle bus service,” Mack says.
Mack says that his service over the years has been gratifying.
“It’s what I love to think about,” Mack says of finances. “It’s my background and it’s my mindset. I was born into the St. John’s congregation and I’ve been a lifelong member. It’s the gift I wanted to share.”
“St. John’s is on the right path and is in good hands,” he says. “I’m very proud of our new sustainability plan. With its implementation, our dynamic church will thrive into the future.”
Charlie Sowers has retired as treasurer after serving faithfully in that capacity for 48 years.
Charlie considers himself 100 percent German, being able to trace all of his family lines back to Germany. His great-great-grandfather was Jacob Stirewalt. His uncle, Martin Luther Stirewalt Jr., was a pastor. An aunt was a Lutheran missionary to China before World War II. His St. John’s roots run deep as well. His grandfather, Martin Luther Stirewalt Sr., was senior pastor at St. John’s from 1930 to 1938.
His father, Jerry Lewis Sowers, served as treasurer of St. John’s from 1938 to 1948. Frank Stoessel took over in 1948, and the two worked together at the post office, putting the offering in the safe there each Sunday until it could be counted on Monday morning, Charlie recalls.
When Stoessel resigned in 1968, Charlie was asked to serve, and did so for the next 48 years. He was an accountant and later became a financial advisor, a position he continues today. He saw the Benevolent Foundation grow from the very beginning.
“It’s a big operation,” Charlie says of St. John’s. “I’ve always been interested in investing. I know that ordained pastors are called to ministry, and I felt like I was called to be treasurer.”