After two months of interim pastors, the Linwood Community Church found itself in need of a stable leader - and one person has high hopes of fulfilling this demand.
Tim Vamosi, originally of southwest Pennsylvania, had been practicing for seven years as pastor of Eastford Baptist Church in Connecticut. Until recently, he was a New England man with no intention of moving.
Nearly three months ago, he received the call that would eventually transfer him and his wife, Rosa, to New Jersey. The onsite home adjacent to the 1838 Shore Road church in Linwood was now his.
"I really didn't want to make a move at this point in my life, but I really felt that this is what the Lord wanted of us," Vamosi said, sitting on the couch in his new office space.
Vamosi, 55, has been delivering "messages" - or sermons - to Linwood's 200-member congregation for two months. Recently, however, he had his installation service, or his official welcome from the Christian community.
"I am excited about being here," he said. "The average (position for a pastor) in the United States is 3½ years. We are hoping it'll be longer here."
The church's former pastor, Rick John, departed for Colorado in May 2010. Many, including the church's youth pastor, Dave Hanson, were excited to invite Vamosi as its newest member.
"I can say that when Pastor Rick left, I was concerned that whoever took his place would be somebody that I could work with," Hanson said.
"Tim is a great fit. I enjoy having him here. I enjoy his wisdom and knowledge, and he's a great leader. I really do appreciate that."
Vamosi, who has four grown children who live throughout the country, said before he made the move to Linwood, he mostly visited the Chesapeake Bay area, never frequenting the beaches of New Jersey.
"I love the water. I look for any excuse I can to get on the water. This is real close," he said.
Vamosi arrived just a week after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the church's surrounding beach towns.
The time following the storm, however, did give him the opportunity to witness the dedication and thoughtfulness of his congregation.
"They're people who are dedicated to the Word. They're caring people. I was absolutely amazed at their response to the hurricane victims," the pastor said.
"I saw people get up every day at 4 o'clock in the morning to cook breakfast for volunteers. They worked tirelessly. It was awesome to watch. It was incredible to see their desire to help those in need."
One of Vamosi's goals is to, in turn, give back to his congregation by working to meet the needs of the people in the community.
"My deepest desire is to see the community experience a revival - a spiritual revival," he said.
At age 26, Vamosi categorized himself as an atheist. A personal crisis urged him to attempt to disprove Christianity, but instead he ended up finding God, he said.
Now, he preaches the Bible, a book he once believed to be nothing but a good collection of fairy tales and myth.
"It amazes me that so many people have Bibles, but never actually pick them up to read them. There's so much in it," he said. "I study (it) every single day of my life. ... Every day I find something new. I think that it's inexhaustible. It's unlike any book that mankind has."
And as his transition stage passes, Vamosi is open to converse with anyone, skeptic or Christian.
"I invite anybody to come and check us out," he said. "I love talking to skeptics because that's how I started. I would invite (them) to come and to bring their hard questions with them. I would love the opportunity to interact with them."
Vamosi delivers sermons every Sunday at the Linwood Community Church. Services take place at 8:30 and 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Contact Caitlin Honan: