Shane Finnin finds his career rewarding when he is able to help people, especially when he sees the impact he has made a difference in their lives.

“You see them later on, and you see that they got through a situation and they’re better for it,” Finnin, a New Castle police officer, told a group of children attending Victory Family Church’s Sunday school session about heroes.

It was the fall kickoff for the church’s New Castle campus, but more importantly, it was a day to remember those heroes who have saved lives, and those who died saving lives. 

The children in the Sunday school classes were not yet born on Sept. 11, 2001, when jetliners commandeered by terrorists flew into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in the nation’s capital, while a third plane in which passengers fought back crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsyvlania.

It was a mass act of terrorism, killing and injuring thousands.

Heroism was the theme of the church’s service and spiritual lessons Sunday, as preschoolers eagerly climbed into police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances that were created out of plastic bins to resemble the emergency vehicles of first responders, not quite understanding the depths of what those careers entail.

The bins were the idea of Jane Kradel, who created the cars for the children to sit in for social distancing while learning their Sunday lesson.

The morning was complete with visits from a real police officer — Finnin — in an actual police car, and a New Castle fire truck manned by firefighters Ryan Guarnieri and Keith Upperman. The three answered questions from the children and showed them how the different mechanisms on their vehicles work.

In a message delivered to the youngsters on video, Mitch Williams, a flight registered nurse from StatMedevac, said that God speaks to him when he is in a situation at the right time for the right reason, “and it brings me nothing but joy to be that help.”

He cited the Bible passage of Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

“God gave him a gift to help people and make an impact,” Brian Richards, moderator of the preschool Sunday class, said of Williams. “He couldn’t do the special things he does every day all on his own.”

Victory Family Church meets at New Castle High School, where a service takes place at 11 a.m. Sundays. Children are separated into classrooms and supervised, according to age groups, for morning Sunday school lessons, and worshipers are required to social distance and wear masks, according to campus pastor John Owens.

And while most children wear masks, whether the younger ones are required to wear them is a decision of their parents, said Lisa Detwiler, who assists with the Sunday school program.

The church’s Sunday services were temporarily halted during March and April, but resumed with personal protections in place when Pennsylvania entered the green phase of COVID-19 restrictions.


Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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