Advent was truly blessed when the McClungs started attending VBS, special events, and
then finally joined as members spring 2019, transferring from the Chapel at Tinkers Creek in
Streetsboro. They were attracted to Advent’s small church feel and strong sense of
community. Matt serves on the spiritual growth board, and kindly accompanied the choir
many times after our organist/choir director left in late Fall.
Matt and Emily have been married for 21 years, having met in an anatomy class at West
Hailing originally from West Virginia, Matt attended Seminary at Duke after graduating from
West Virginia Wesleyan, and served as a Methodist minister for a number of years. He has
his D-Min from St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology. He has been working
in property management for many years, and now is the Senior Community Manager for the
new The Lumen at Playhouse Square.
Originally from Cheswick PA, Emily is now the Lead Clinical Nurse Educator for University
Hospitals downtown. She received her Masters at Duke and a Ph.D. from St. Louis
University, and used to teach at Hiram College.
Matt enjoys tennis and cooking (he’s very good at most any cuisine – you might want to ask
him for some favorite recipes). Emily enjoys traveling, hiking, and playing cornhole with the
Lauren is a 9th grader who loves track and cross country; Daniel is starting 5th grade and is
interested in baseball and piano. They are great kids, and the entire family is a wonderful
addition to our Advent family.
Terry and Gwen have been members of Advent since September, 1982. Originally from Bethesda, Maryland, Gwen earned her undergraduate degree at Heidelburg College in Tiffin, Ohio, and her masters at Bowling Green. Terry was a local lad who attended St. Ed’s in Cleveland and then Ohio State.
They met at the Geauga County Fair (at an outing arranged by Terry’s brother), and were married at Advent in November 1982.
Terry was employed for 36 years at the IT department of Dominion Energy (and its many entities) and Gwen by Solon Schools, where she thrived teaching music and helping with the many high quality musical programs there. Advent was blessed to have Gwen as organist and choir director for many years. She started both an adult and youth bell choir and really challenged us.
Terry and Gwen’s son Jonathon was a constant presence at Advent too, and very very active in musical programs at Solon H.S. After graduation from there, he graduated from the University of Dayton and now works in Buffalo NY as a sport reporter for Spectrum News. He is engaged to Heather Prusak from Buffalo, with plans to marry July 3, 2021.
Terry works part time at Miles Market but manages to find time for golf and singing barbershop with the Men of Independence. He is a committed helper for H3O’s furniture ministry. He has served on Advent’s council, including as its President, and in various boards. Gwen has retired from Solon, but loves accompanying musicals, teaching piano, exercise, and her God-children. She confessed to this reporter that she absolutely adores Galen and Donna’s three grandchildren.
Answering the question “What does Advent mean to you?” Terry and Gwen agree: “Our best friends are from Advent.”
Everyone knows Jerry (Jerald) and Doris Johanson! Doris is one of the best welcomers of new people to Advent, and Jerry has been a faithful choir member forever, probably since joining in 1979. Doris also served as a Sunday School teacher for many years.
They met on a blind date in college (both graduated from Iowa State, and married May 29, 1960 (so this was the big 60!). Jerry had graduated from Marshalltown H.S. in Iowa, and Doris from Oskaloosa H.S. They moved around a little as Jerry worked as an electrical and mechanical engineer (he pulled a double major), and actually transferred church membership from Flint Michigan. Doris had received her Masters in Early Education from Cleveland State and worked as a daycare director and daycare consultant for children with physical and behavioral special needs. Together they brought up two children, Karen Baxter, who still lives in Kenai Alaska, and Mark, who is a trucker living in Chardon. (Many of you old-timers may remember Karen and her children, Danielle, Shannon, and Seth, who were brought faithfully to church and Sunday School by their grandparents.)
Now retired and very active in the Solon Senior Center, Jerry loves crossword puzzles, and Doris reads and sews. When normalcy returns, we are sure you will see Jerry singing again and Doris welcoming everyone. Of Advent, they simply say “it’s our family.”
It’s about time you all knew more about Lynn Marrer, who recently moved to Sagamore Hills after 20 years living just up the road from church. Lynn and her family visited Advent for the first time Good Friday 2000, and felt so welcomed (especially by greeter Doris Johanson) that they came again on Easter Sunday.
Eventually Lynn became very active especially with music (Adult Choir and bell choir, and some memory-making appearances at the Music Marathons); VBS (she loves kids); Parents’ Night Out; Hattie Larlham; and Altar Guild. Lynn makes THE best communion bread.
Lynn graduated from Normandy H.S. in Parma. In fact, her mom still lives in the same house Lynn grew up in with sister Lori and two brothers. Younger brother Robbie died 7 years ago from a brain tumor, and the older brother lives in Florida, but Lynn and Lori Olecki are still very close. (You may have met Lori – as both Lynn and Lori work hard for Hands, Hearts, and Homes, from helping with the annual golf outing, to picking up furniture, to organizing the summer auctions.)
After High School, Lynn worked downtown at the old National City Bank until her boss invited her to go with him to a new venture. She married Steve May 27, 1989, and became a busy mom to Alex, soon to be 30 and working as a diesel mechanic in Rootstown, and Brooke, now 26, and working for Oriana House, Akron, monitoring incarcerated clients living at home.
Steve is a lawyer with Kohrman, Jackson & Krantz, and his love is fine woodworking. Lynn’s love is baking desserts, which we all love too! And reading – lots of types. And walking in the Metroparks. Although she works at Lori’s family-owned HVAC company, when business is slow Lynn might walk twice a day.
Galen & Donna Swab are both original members of Advent, as their families had both joined when it was established. Galen's family lived in Warrensville and transferred from Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Maple Heights. Donna and her family transferred from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Cleveland, although they lived in Bedford Heights. Their parents were Edward and Marie, from Warrensville and Art and Ruth Ungar, from Bedford Heights.
Galen and Donna were members of the newly formed Luther League, and said it was so big and popular that they had multiple people running for the offices. (They confessed to not voting for the other.) Galen was the first president and Donna first secretary.
Galen and Donna married December 12, 1970 (yes, the big 50 is coming up this year), just before Galen graduated from Bowling Green in business education. They had planned on staying on in Bowling Green, but Mr. Swab died suddenly, and they moved back to the area. Galen did graduate school at Kent State and taught in a variety of high schools before moving into sales, retiring from Stevens Worldwide Van Lines. Donna trained in secretarial work and worked with Don Ganzhorn many years ago, and then for the city of Solon for 17 years.
Their immediate family is son Brian, now 46, married, working in information technology, and living in North Royalton with his wife and 3 sons; and Amy, now 42, married, working as a physical therapist at Summa Hospital, Akron, and living in Uniontown with her husband, son, and twin daughters. Both were baptized and confirmed at Advent (so look up their photos some day on the education wing wall).
During their many years at Advent, Galen played on the original softball team for several years, and served numerous terms on church council, taught adult Sunday school, and served as usher and communion server.
The Swabs have always enjoyed travelling, and have visited all 50 states and dozens of national parks and monuments. The cruising bug hit over 20 years ago, and they have never tired of meeting new people, seeing new sights, and learning about other cultures. They value Mark Twain’s opinion: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
In addition to travel, Galen enjoys gardening and is a regular blood donor with the Red Cross, with nearly 200 donations. Donna enjoys reading and having lunch out with friends.
The Swabs have lived on Liberty Road in Solon for most of their marriage. If you don’t know this wonderful couple, make sure you introduce yourselves when at last we can return to worship inside Advent.
Joan Groening has been Advent's wonderful Coordinator of Sunday Volunteers for at least 13 years, often an usher, a Altar Guild member, and on Fellowship Committee.
Joan moved to Solon as a 6-year-old to the corner house at Solon and Bainbridge, with her grandparents soon moving into the "little yellow house" next door. Anyone interested in Solon's history should talk to Joan - fascinating stories about her corner house being the former Post Office on the main street, and the High School campus being carved out of a farm and surrounded by cows. After graduating from KSU with a BS she taught school in Orange in Special Ed, and after earning a Masters from KSU she worked for the state of Ohio as a vocational rehabilitation counselor.
Joan had known Ron Groening for many years, and they married on April 1st, 2000, soon moving back from Cleveland to the "little yellow house" next door to daughter Tina (& Tim) Stawiarski. That's when granddaughter 2-3 year old Kelsey said "I think you should start teaching me about Jesus" - so everyone started coming to Advent. (Note: when Kelsey graduated from SHS in 2011, the papers carried a story noting 50 years after her grandmother's own graduation.)
How many of you know that Joan led the way in pioneering women's shooting leagues?
And of course Joan also led the way in the formation of what we now know as H3O, which is where she will tell you her faith has grown as she has seen God at work meeting specific needs. Evidently it was Kelsey's reaction to a visit by men from the Cleveland Men's Shelter who prompted grandma to start gathering furniture with Jerry Johanson in Tim's dilapidated truck. After a season or two of that, she visited the Broadway warehouse intending to say she was stopping, what with winter coming, but when the man there said "I don't know how we will get enough furniture," she pledged to keep getting more, and more, and more. H30 was eventually formed when this furniture emphasis combined with the parallel ministry of providing clothing and food to the same population at Our Redeemer.
A keen gardener who loves the outdoors, parks, and animals, she now shares Tina's 3 dogs to make it easier for Joan and Ron to spend winters away: in the Carolinas for 4 years, Daytona Beach and Sarasota FL, and New Orleans.
So, meet and greet Joan now before she disappears for the winter!
Eleanor Melzer, aka Ellie, is a valued member of Advent. She usually sits on the left side (as
you enter) toward the front, smiling shyly at everyone and enjoying hugs when we pass the
Peace. And if you don't think you know her - she's the one with the New York accent!
Born in Brooklyn, Ellie married Bob and lived 2 doors down from her in-laws before moving to Farmingdale Long Island when the children arrived - Robert III, Laura (Sheridan) and Leslie (Tancredi). How we miss Bob, who died November 22, 2004.
When he was asked to start a new office for his NY textiles company in Shaker, the family
moved to north Solon. When the company wanted to move him back to NY, the family stayed - good for Advent! And when another sales job ended, Bob and Ellie turned his passion for
photography into a profession. Many Advent brides and graduates had their photos taken by the Melzers, who started the photo board in the narthex.
Ellie worked for some years for a newspaper, and later in Leslie's office, but was joyfully a homemaker. And now she is busy enjoying the many activities at the Solon Senior Center. In fact, she goes there just about every day for "senior games," singing and acting groups, cards, speakers series, and bus trips - including to grandson Eddie Tancredi's fabulous near-west-side restaurant The Distill Table (a shameless plug -- Eddie trained at the Pittsburgh Institute of Culinary Arts and then trained, and worked at WV's Greenbrier Resort). She is suitably proud of her family, which now numbers 5 grandchildren 32-40, and 7 great-grandchildren 8-21 (and, yes, there is a Robert IV and a V).
Ellie said her life was changed by the two-year Bethel Bible study she had participated in at her church in New York, and the Melzers encouraged Advent to host the program. Ellie went to Wisconsin for the intensive training program, and later trained to present the Wisdom Series as well. Both made her so much more aware of Jesus' love and sacrifice.
And what is something you might not know about Ellie? She is still a faithful and active blood
donor for the American Red Cross.
Elena Naydinskaya and daughters Sasha (almost 13) and Nina (9) moved to Solon Ohio from
Moscow in 2016. Elena's background is Jewish (on her father's side) and Russian Orthodox, but she decided after moving that Orthodox services would not be easy for the girls to understand or enjoy (they are held in Russian - old Russian; everyone stands; etc). Advent is happy to have them here!
Originally from Ukraine, after a few years at the local teachers'; institute Elena moved to Moscow to study languages: Russian, English (at Trinity College, Dublin), and French (in Lyons, France). You might ask her about summers volunteering at the Taize community in France, or about working as an au pair for a French family. After finishing her university she married and became mother to the girls, but sadly the marriage ended. By then Elena's parents had emigrated to Cleveland (in 2002) and established themselves, and Elena had visited them 3 times. They encouraged her to emigrate in 2016 after finding that the refugee program would still be applicable. In fact many members of her immediate and extended family are in the greater Cleveland area, including a married sister and brother.
Nina attends Lewis Elementary, and Sasha Solon Middle School. Both girls have been enjoying a variety of camps during the summer.
Elena is currently studying Occupational Therapy at Tri-C.
Ernie and Mary Balint recently celebrated 71 years of marriage, and have lived in their Bedford Heights home over 50 of them. They are among our longest members at Advent and we are sorry that health issues now prevent them from attending. Ernie has been receiving injections for macular degeneration for 7 years, and Mary has become rather fragile.
Both Ernie and Mary are from the Cleveland area. In the Depression, Ernie's family moved a lot: from the Hungarian area, to Lyndhurst, Orange, Mayfield Heights, and more. In fact, at one point he lived in the house that Joan Groening now owns. He graduated from John Adams H.S. Mary explained that she had attended Catholic schools, and when the nuns first asked her name and she replied "Mary," they suggested she go by Merriam instead. Ernie admitted that he never checked to see which was her real given name.
Many of you know that Ernie participated in invasion of Normandy in World War II, about a month after D-Day. He had been drafted at 18 and trained in a variety of locations in the US before setting out in a 12-day convoy across the Atlantic, and then joining the push through to the Rhine with Patton's 9th Division. Even though he participated in the victorious wrap up in that theater, memories are obviously painful, and we thank him and his brave compatriots for their sacrifice.
After returning home, Ernie courted this attractive sister of his cousin's wife, and trained as a mechanic (eventually becoming service manager at a Firestone center). The Balints have a son and daughter, who now live in Garfield and Aurora, as well as 4 adult grandchildren.
(Your interviewer had fun comparing notes on the prices of first apartments - $26/month for 2 small rooms with a kitchenette!). When Ernie was forced into early retirement when the center closed, Mary joined the workforce at McDonalds - something she found fun, as many other housewives in their neighborhood worked there.
Ernie and Mary said they enjoyed the senior events that Advent used to have - cards, outings, picnics, and craft fairs. In fact Mary organized many of those outings, and Ernie did the posters and other art work needed by the church. He is quite an accomplished painter.
Elaine is one of our newest members to Advent, having transferred recently from Church of the Master. She was born in Newcastle PA but moved to the area at the age of 3, and now lives in Bedford. She says she visited her grandmother every summer back in Newcastle until she graduated from high school. Elaine's brother, sister-in-law, and some nephews live nearby.
Sadly, Elaine's daughter, CJ's mother, died from cystic fibrosis a few years ago. CJ's stepfather has guardianship, but CJ enjoys his grandma-time on weekends.
Elaine ended her 18 years at Swagelok due to her poor heath: arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. (If you are considering a joint replacement, Elaine has lots of experience.) In fact, if you don't know Elaine, look for the smiling lady with a surgical collar on, as she recuperate from recent spinal surgery.
Elaine was attracted to Advent because of its friendliness, the vibrant pastor, the Word on
Wednesday Bible Study, the helpful members, and the fact that it has so many welcoming kids.
CJ is going into 6th grade and loves baseball (he's played in the summer league). He expressed disappointment when summer ended the Sunday School program for the year and he would no longer have Miss Dana for a teacher. Besides baseball, CJ loves being helpful, and is very comfortable around the elderly, like when he visits nursing homes.
For her part, Elaine enjoys crafts, such as making wreaths and centerpieces for showers. She
used to organize the letters and cards to shut-ins and just likes to be helpful.