Congregation, pastor celebrate 20 years of service together |

Congregation, pastor celebrate 20 years of service together

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer

Not only has the Rev. Marvin H. Dennis been a pastor at Good Shepherd Wesleyan Church for the past 20 years – he has been in the ministry for 41 years.

On Sunday, the congregation of GSWC will honor and celebrate with Dennis as he marks his 20th anniversary with the church at a special 10:30 a.m. service, and a dessert social at 6:30 p.m.

The congregation will share stories about what Rev. Dennis means to them.

“I don’t know what else we’re doing,” Dennis said. “The rest is supposed to be a surprise.”

Dennis, 63, began his ministry in New Jersey, then moved on to Kansas and Wisconsin, where he was the chaplain for the National Football League’s AAA team, the Wisconsin Express, and chaplain for the local police department. During his time with the team, they went 16-0 and won the series Super Bowl, for which he earned a Super Bowl ring along with each team player.

“I got to speak at the Super Bowl banquet in Milwaukee that year and hand out the rings,” Dennis said. “Then the general manager presented me with mine.”

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Each time Dennis was assigned to a new church, he thought it was long-term.

“I went to every church thinking I’d be with them for the rest of my life,” he said. “Maybe retire.”

Over the past 20 years, Dennis said he has appreciated how the church has grown. When he was asked to pastor at Good Shepherd Wesleyan Church, there was a real threat of the doors closing for good.

“There were only 17 in the congregation in July 1987,” he said. “Just seeing the church grow and people come closer to the Lord, are the best memories for me.

“And of course, J.D. Sumner (and The Stamps, gospel group) and all the gospel groups we’ve had. Plus weddings, baptisms – all that kind of stuff makes it special.”

The congregation now has more than 200 members and had two successful building programs. In Carson City, Dennis has served as one of the chaplains for Carson-Tahoe Hospital, the Carson City Sheriff’s Department and the Nevada State Legislature, and served as president and vice president of the Carson City Ministerial Fellowship.

“I enjoy Carson City and am honored to have the opportunity to serve God and the community these 20 years,” Dennis said.

“The Lord’s blessed us, that’s for sure. It’s been very rewarding to be in the service of the Lord.”

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.