Cambridge pastor moving south

Sandy Hull

Pastor John Vidakovich, “The Old Sport,” is busy packing up his office at the Cambridge United Methodist Church and  his household on Main Street.

Pastor Vidakovich has been assigned to a new church effective Tuesday, July 1, in Petersburg, home of the New Salem State Park in the County of Menard about 24 miles northwest of Springfield.

“The New Salem State Park is actually right out our back door,” Pastor Vidakovich stated. “The back of the church’s parish yard butts right up to the park. The house is only four years old and all on one level. I’m looking forward to that as I seem to be getting a little older.”

His new church will be slightly larger than his Cambridge congregation, but he is looking forward to making new friends and cheering on the Porta Blue Jays, the school’s mascot.

“I’ve always enjoyed sports and the arts offered by the schools,” he stated. “I can’t wait to get involved again.”

Pastor Vidakovich said he wasn’t surprised by the reappointment, because the Methodist denomination requires pastors to switch churches every five years or so.

“I’ve been here since July of 2002,” he stated. “Cambridge has been a pleasant place to live. I’ve made a lot of good friends while I’ve been here and will miss all of them.”

Pastor Vidakovich has especially enjoyed his time with the the Cambridge Social Security Council which gets together almost daily at Skello’s and with a group of pastors he meets with every Wednesday in Geneseo.

“They’re a great group of people and I hope I can find some similar groups of people in Petersburg,” he continued. “I’ve always enjoyed being active in the community and look forward to that in Petersburg as well.”

He is also a member of the Cambridge Rotary Club and served as president one year and enjoyed golfing at Valley View Club, thanks to the church. He was on a golf league every Tuesday morning. He also bowled at DeGroot’s Lanes for a couple of years, before his knees gave out.

Regarding his sports writing at the Chronicle, Pastor Vidakovich said his biggest thrill was taking pictures during the state football game at Champaign-Urbana in 2006.

“I just wish we would have won, for the boys and Coach Larry Stahl,” he said. “What a thrill that would have been. All of the coaches have been great during my writing experience with the Chronicle. Hopefully, once I’m unpacked and settled, I will either be able to write for the local paper in Petersburg or do radio sports. Supporting high school sports and arts is really important to me.”

Pastor Vidakovich said he loves being a pastor and developing relationships with people.

“One of the hardest things about being a pastor is sometimes you don’t connect with people the way you want or you are misunderstood,” he said. “That can make being a pastor a very lonely occupation if you allow it to be. The good definitely outweighs the bad.”

There will be a couple of changes at the new church. He will preach two services every Sunday, year-around, one at 8 a.m. and one at 10 a.m. Here he gives one on Saturday night and one on Sunday morning.

Not only is Pastor John starting a new job, but his wife, Pastor Judy Vidakovich, will also have three small country churches to tend to.

“Judy will be the pastor at three smaller churches, about 11 miles north of Petersburg,” he stated. “The churches are Oakford-Bath-Fairview churches.”

When asked how their children felt about the move, Pastor Vidakovich said he won’t have as much of an effect on them this time. Joel is married and living in Edwardsville, which will actually be closer for them and Petra and Hannah are both attending college now. Petra has been attending St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the last two years and is transferring this summer to another university and Hannah was a freshman last year at Illinois State University, Bloomington.

“They’ll miss their friends they made here in school but I think it was harder on them when they were smaller,” he stated. “They have always known what being a Methodist minister’s kids meant. Moving is inevitable.”

In closing Pastor Vidakovich wanted everyone to know, “Wherever I’m at, Cambridge will always have a very special place in my heart and my Cambridge friends will always be part of my life.”