By Mike Steely
The Knoxville Focus had the opportunity to chat with our neighbor recently. Christus Victor Church is across the street from The Focus office on North Central Avenue Pike. We spoke with the pastor about him, his family, and the church.
Rev. William Ondracka, who prefers to be called Bill, talked with the Knoxville Focus about his eight years in Knoxville. The Canadian native and his wife, Shannon, have a daughter (26), son (22), son in-law (26), and a beautiful granddaughter (1).
He said he loves the beauty, vastness and variety of our area. Ondracka likes to ride his Harley-Davidson and often you find it parked in front of the church
“We love driving and exploring the area, seeing all that God has created,” he said.
The location of Christus Victor, on a hill near I-75 and I-640, brings in visitors who spot the church or GPS it and come for Sunday services He said church has 152 members and, on any given Sunday, 60 to 80 attend.
“God’s been good to us,” he said of the church’s 50-year history. “Every couple of weeks we seem to have people from the community coming in to visit with us.”
Ondracka said the church’s new contemporary worship, on Sundays at 6 p.m. is a relaxed service with a full band and singers, and has the feel of a full Praise Team.
“We have a traditional service on Sunday mornings and we’re trying to offer something to both realms. Some people prefer the traditional and some like a more relaxed service without being overly intimidated,” the pastor said.
“I was born and raised in Canada and met my wife Shannon in Michigan and lived there some 16 years. I then went to seminary in St. Louis for four years and the good Lord dropped me here,” he said.
“My wife and I came down here about 18 years ago on vacation. I love the beauty and vastness,” he said. “Down here the pace of life is so much slower and enjoyable.”
Asked about the church’s outreach program Ondracka said, “We have partnered with Second Harvest. Everything we do is supported 100% by the congregation which brings food in and supports it with donations.
“What we get at the supermarket for $300 we can get the same from Second Harvest for $100. Our food pantry is open every Thursday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.”
“We feed 70 to 80 families a month,” he said.
Ondracka is assisted in his position by his secretary, Carol Rauch, and volunteer Joey Parris, who the minister refers to has his “go to guy.”
“He handles the sound, the internet, the web site, you name it,” he said.
“We have lots of volunteers, the Elders, to help the service happen and to get people involved. The Elders have the spiritual responsibility of the church and me and the Board, who are voted on by the congregation, and help make the decisions and run the church.”
Asked which one is his boss the pastor smiles and points up to heaven.