MEET OUR PASTORS
Marvin G. Spence, Pastor
Richard Strode Sr., Assistant Pastor
MARVIN G. SPENCE, PASTOR
Marvin G. Spence was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of eight children of John and Annie Bell Spence. He attended Milwaukee Public Schools and is a 1975 graduate of Rufus King High School.
He began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his involvement in the church as a youth. With his deep passion, he realized God's calling of his gifts and graces, answering the Lord’s call in his teens. Marvin was licensed as a Baptist minister in 1989 by Reverend Dr. John Williams, pastor of Berean Baptist Church. Reverend Spence has studied at numerous institutions including UW-Milwaukee and Milwaukee School of Engineering. He’s earned a Bachelors of Business Administration and Liberal Arts from Concordia University, a Bachelors of Arts in Christian Education from Milwaukee Theological Institute and a Bachelors of Arts in Theology from Covington Theological Seminary in Rossville, Georgia.
After completing Methodist licensing at Iowa Licensing School (Dubuque, IA) and ministerial studies at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston, IL) and The University of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN). Reverend Spence journeyed to the United Methodist Church in 1991 where he served as Associate Pastor of St. James UMC in Milwaukee, WI. In 1995, he was asked to serve as pastor of Henderson Avenue UMC in Beloit, WI.
In 1999, Pastor Spence was appointed to Albright UMC in Milwaukee, WI. Here, he was successful in assisting cross-cultural communities of faith move to appreciate one another's culture in Christ. It is also here that he instituted the Milwaukee Pan-Methodist Fellowship, leading workshops on Evangelism and Prayer. The Cabinet of the Wisconsin Annual Conference appointed Pastor Spence to Solomon Community Temple UMC in June 2004, where he rekindled the flames of a discouraged ministry. Because of his passion and leadership, he has presided over two churches simultaneously several times. In 2015, he concluded his twenty-one year journey with the United Methodist Church serving the congregations of The Church of the Good Hope UMC and Aldersgate UMC.
Upon its organization in early 2015, Pastor Spence was asked to shepherd the flock of Ascension Fellowship Church. He was formally installed in November 2015 and continues to serve as Senior Pastor. He has also completed a year of Clinical Pastoral Education at Alexian Village Senior Living Center in Milwaukee, WI and works with the Running Rebels Organization as a mentor to troubled youth.
Pastor Spence likes to think outside the box with respect to ministry. Among his creative endeavors are the establishment of Sidewalk Sunday School, where the church goes outside its walls and sets up church in the community streets, as well as The Wisconsin Pan-Methodist Celebration, which brought the AME, CME, AME-Zion and United Methodist families together for food, fun, fellowship, and worship. He also implemented Saturday Bopping Class, which allows people of faith to safely dance while simultaneously exercising and evangelizing.
Marvin celebrated 43 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart Zenobia (Keys). God has given them three daughters, all having received their Master’s or Doctoral degrees, three sons-in-law and four adorable granddaughters. The Spence’s service to others also led them to become foster-parents while caring for their own children.
“Our hope and vision is to serve the community both spiritually and physically, by word and witness,” says Pastor Spence. This hope sustained vision and spiritual renewal has impelled the ministries under Pastor Spence to preserve its mission and ministry in a hurting world.
RICHARD STRODE SR.
Two scriptures which accurately summarize who I am by the Lord’s grace are Job 32: 18-20 and Ephesians 5: 19-20. Additional insights about me, God and family are outlined below:
Like the prodigal son, life and circumstances reminded me of my relationship with God. It was not the first time that I realized that God had preserved my life for a reason. It was a vivid reminder of a previous pastor’s enjoiner that I “owed” God for my life. It remains a sobering thought still today because I value God’s patience with me. As the occasion and opportunity presents itself, I share these faith lessons learned as encouragement and good news to those who are willing to listen.
My faith journey began when I committed my life to Christ at the age of eight at Mt Sinai MBC, East St. Louis, IL. My Christian experience included active membership and participation in a number of denominations: Charismatic, non-denominational, Baptist, Catholic, Church of God in Christ, Lutheran, Methodist (AME, CME and UMC) and being accepted as Ascension Fellowship Church Assistant Pastor on June 12, 2016. One of the reasons for this diversity of experience is my personal quest to experience Christ in the fellowship of believers.
Exhorting and proclaiming the Gospel is something that I willingly do with enthusiasm. As a minister, I view my opportunities to serve as an enjoyable service—it is neither drudgery nor a dreaded task. Sharing my life’s experiences with others as an illustration, reminds listeners that it took a long time to become what I am now.
I fully appreciate God’s grace and mercy which I want others to acknowledge, appreciate and receive. The question we all seek to answer is, “What I am doing now that will exalt Christ, the gospel or help others to do the same?” My calling is to be that voice—be that conscience, reminding myself and others of the Word and Christ’s expectation of followers of His way of living.
Significant milestones in my life include my forty-six year marriage to Dorothy (nee Sanders) which blessed us with a total of five children and four grandchildren. I am a graduate of Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville IL) with major in Political Science and Secondary Education. I retired in November, 2012 from the Social Security Administration after 41 years of service.