Senior Pastor Rob Rienstra
Assistant Pastor Matt Abel
Matt was born in 1977 in Chattanooga. He has the distinction of being dedicated – not baptized! – at First Presbyterian Church (PCA) of Chattanooga. Thanks to the teaching of Christian parents and of faithful churches, he has always been aware that God was absolutely sovereign and that the Bible was God’s revealed Word. In elementary school, the Abel family moved homes and moved church membership to another reformed church - Signal Mountain Presbyterian (PCUSA). God was faithful to Matt’s parents and to the Church and brought him to a saving faith and repentance through a junior-high communicant’s class. Upon Matt’s public profession of faith, he was baptized, admitted to the Lord’s Table and joined the Church.
Up until that point and even after, Matt’s life was characterized by the Pharisee of Luke 18 rather than the tax collector. Before his confession of faith, Matt had a lot of good Sunday school knowledge (and even some good theology), but he did not understand that justification before the Holy Father comes only through faith in the work of the Son. After his confession, Matt did not fully understand that he was free from slavery to sin and able to “not sin” (Romans 6). There was fruit in his life in keeping with repentance, but there was also Pharisaical sin. During his freshmen year at college, God in His holiness humbled Matt in his stubborn sin - and at the very same time manifested His sovereign grace to him. Through the work of the Spirit that spring, Matt went from being the Pharisee of Luke 18 to living in the mercy of God – like the tax collector of Luke 18.
The encounter with God’s holiness, his own sinfulness, and God’s grace during his freshman year put Matt on a long path towards ordained ministry. Along the way came: many summers working at a PCA church camp, seminary education, interning in a PCA church, working in outdoor ministry in Colorado, coaching rowing and volunteering with Young Life, finally leaving the PCUSA and joining the PCA, another internship in a PCA church and now finally a call to pastor at Trinity.
The encounter with God’s holiness, his own sinfulness, and God’s grace also put Matt on a long recovery from relational selfishness. Along the way came: an end to living for himself and an end to placing his identity in things other than Christ; the beginning of truly living for the King (he has no party affiliation but is a “monarchist”) and finally peace with being a celibate and single subject of the King. Obviously, that was not the end of the story! God provided Matt his greatest help, his greatest blessing and the love of his life: Janinne Marie Hoffman. They began dating in late 2006 and were married January 20, 2008. With Janinne came the next greatest blessings in his life: Ayden, William and James.
Janinne and Matt are convinced the regular pattern for God’s people is a “long obedience in the same direction”. This is characterized by clinging to the Triune God and being faithfully present to one’s family, to one’s church (and the Church), and to one’s community. They are so very thankful for the Gospel outpost that is Trinity Presbyterian Church and look forward to decades of living life in and spreading the good Word to Covington.