Six years ago, when pastor Fred Fizner accepted the position at the church, the 58-year-old father of two had already raised his sons with wife Lois, had a twenty-year career at Yellow Pages and was in his twelfth year as a pastor.
Now, the Hartland couple is ready to start a new phase in their lives when Fizner retires this month and the leaves the Hartland community for a move to Atlanta, GA.
“I plan to retire,” Fizner said. “I’m sure I’ll end up serving the Lord’s Kingdom somehow, but I’m ready to do some other things.”
The move will bring them closer to family including their two adult sons who have been living in the Atlanta area for several years now. It’s a step both Fizners are excited for but also admit that they are not the type to have a quiet retirement either.
"For 18 years, I get ideas and start crafting sermons in my mind," Fizner said. "I may still do that, but nobody's ever going to listen to them, maybe that will begin to frustrate me. But I have no real preconceived notions of what I'm going to do. I may resume playing golf, I may go ga-ga on photography. I may go back to a seminary and get a Ph.D for absolutely no reason."
Whatever the couple does decide to do, however, due to the people they are, Lois Fizner says that she is sure it won't take long before they are involved with their new community.
A Long and Varied Career
Fizner, who began his career briefly as an engineer and then after quickly getting his MBA in marketing, spent 20 years at Yellow Pages before he decided to make a change in his life.
“There are a lot of hints,” Fizner said. “In the ministry we talk in terms of God calling you to do something and you resist. But the one biggest revelation, I guess, was just the idea that what I really enjoyed in life is what I did in evenings at the church after I served my time at the phone company.”
It was a gradual process, according to Lois Fizner, who says her husband returned home from one missionary trip and told her he could hear God calling him. She told him it was about time and supported his decision.
“It meant a lot of changes, but I could see he wasn’t happy with what he was doing,” she said.
With their sons still in school, Fred Fizner began his 3-year Master program travelling to Delaware, OH three days a week for seminary school.
Calling it a lifestyle change, Lois Fizner says that those three years were “very” long, but right away she noticed a difference in her husband.
“People noticed he was happier,” she said. “Right after he started.”
Hartland was the third congregation in Fizner’s 18-year career as a pastor and says he enjoyed being part of the community. He also says a source of pride for him is the fact that his congregation was able to draw in younger families.
“And what we did, more importantly than that,” Fred Fizner said. “We began to focus outward a little more and helping our neighbor.”
Becoming more involved with organizations such as Gleaners Food Bank and Love In the Name of Christ, Fizner says that his congregation has become more “hands-on” and is very proud of the efforts the members of his church participate in, which he and his wife also credit to the younger generations coming in.
“The young people today want to do something,” Lois Fizner said. “They don’t just want to come in and sit. They are looking for something to do to make a difference. So when you change the younger average age, you change the mindset."
Thanking the community for their support, Fred Fizner has a list of things he says he will miss about Hartland, including the first football game of the season.
The Fizners have been married for 43 years and as they make the final preparations for their eighth move together, they say that no matter how many times they have changed and grown throughout their life together, each path they have traveled has taught them something new.
“I think you learn each time you move, that there is something to be learned from each group you’re in,” Lois Fizner said.