Coordinator of Adult Ministries
You see him everywhere . . . in the pulpit, in the kitchen, behind the steering wheel in the church van, in SPR, Nominations, Finance, Visitation, Hospitality, Church Council, Congregational Care Committee meetings, even at Lakeside as our lay member to annual conference - that him is Roger Marra, our previous Lay Leader and now Coordinator of Adult Ministries
The example his Mom, Virginia, set by living her life deeply involved in the life of Gay Street United Methodist Church and the community influenced him at a young age. Whether parents realize it or not, the example they set for their children is one of the most important things they can do for their children besides loving them. And Virginia loved both of her children deeply. Life for the Marra children was full of family times, vacations, visiting with neighbors, playing outdoors until dark. With West School across the street from where they grew up, they had a Roger Marra - Lay Leader whole playground at their disposal. And, don’t forget the fun of having a neighborhood grocery store to run to for candy and pop.
It did my heart good to know that his favorite memory growing up was when he would visit his maternal grandmother, Bertha White, each Sunday afternoon (and through the week, too). He especially loved getting to say overnight with her. She made Roger feel so special and loved - that unconditional love grandparents have for their grandchildren is so important.
Roger’s first job was working for Joe Mazza at his restaurant on High Street while still in high school. In fact, it was Joe Mazza that talked Roger’s dad, Frank into moving to Mount Vernon. The Mazza and Marra Roger relaxing at a young age families grew up together on the same street in Clarksburg, West Virginia. They were like second families to each other. Joe asked Frank to come up to Mount Vernon and work for him in his restaurant, which he did. Once here Frank met Virginia White and they were married in 1949. Frank eventually went to work at Pittsburgh Plate Glass factory.
After graduation Roger worked at the Perkins Pancake House (presently, Southside Diner) and then at Jody’s. Joe had taught the young Roger well. Roger then went to work in the food service for the Mount Vernon Developmental Center in 1978. He worked his way up to a supervisory position. He transferred to the Richland Correctional Institution in January, 1999 and retired from there in July, 2008 with thirty years of service to the State.
Nowadays, Roger stays busy with part-time work at Snyder Funeral Home. In the fall, one of the things he really enjoys is ushering at Ohio State home football games. He calls this a "luxury." If you have ever been around him when his cell phone rings, you will hear the OSU fight song, too! His love of music has also found him supporting the Knox County Community Concert Association.
Roger’s ultimate vision for Gay Street UM Church is that it would continue to grow - in membership, age diversity and to continue the rich heritage of being a mission minded church –locally and worldwide! One of Roger’s favorite passages to quote from is James 1—stating that we all need to "be doers of the Word, and not just hearers." Roger states, "We all have talents given and blessed by God, we just need to realize how they all can be used to be a blessing to others."
Roger finds peace "in quiet times through daily prayer times, especially when retiring for the night, I have a conversation with God and reflect on the day and the needs of those that have been brought to mind." Roger’s most "fierce" cheerleader in his present day spiritual life and his recent pursuit of Lay Speaking Ministries is Roselyn Beery. "Her encouragement, prayers and words of support have been and continue to be a blessing to me."
One of Roger’s ideas for ministry was the J.O.Y. (Just Older Youth) outings. Each month you will find him thinking of new places to take our older youth to visit. Everyone in the J.O.Y. group appreciates Roger’s faithful dedication. A good time is always had by all.
Roger and the J.O.Y. group enjoyed themselves in Amish country.
No matter what Roger is involved in he gives his all. He is always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. I know everyone would agree with me that he is truly a doer of the word.
(Editor’s note: Thank you, Roger, for letting me interview you under protest!)
The full article was originally published in the February 2013 Tower Topics newsletter.