Pastors Joe and Dawn Coudriet serve as founding and lead pastors of Southern Tier Family Life Church. They are ordained by ALMA, the Abundant Life Ministerial Association, and have served together in full time ministry since 1994. As lead pastors, Joe and Dawn are responsible to implement the vision for the church as received from the Holy Spirit, and to identify, train and empower other members of the body of Christ to find fulfillment in their callings.
Pastor Joe Coudriet’s primary role is that of Pastor/Teacher and as such is responsible for being the primary communicator on Sunday mornings in addition to management of the day to day operations of the church.
Pastor Dawn Coudriet’s primary role is to serve as co-visionary for the ministry and coordinates the pastoral care element of the church in its various manifestations; biblical guidance, pre-marital preparation and small group development. In addition, she is a gifted teacher of God’s Word, an author of a children’s book, The Resurrection Rabbit, as well as a series of books to be published in the future.
Pastors Joe and Dawn both grew up in upstate New York; Joe in Endicott and Dawn in Buffalo. They were both raised in the roman catholic tradition and each came from homes with loving parents and numerous siblings. Like many kids, they practiced the faith of their families while never really experiencing the kind of personal relationship with God that they obtained later as young adults.
At 16 years of age I attended a youth retreat sponsored by the diocese. I didn’t attend because I necessarily wanted to increase my walk with God. I thought it would be a good time. But, the joke was on me because at the closing of the weekend retreat, in the setting of a mass, I had a powerful experience with Jesus Christ. There I was, seated on the altar with the other retreat participants. We were singing Kumbaya, or something like it, and I felt the very real presence of Jesus Christ say to me; “I’m real.” Now, that may not mean anything to you but when the master of the universe acknowledged His reality to me it shook me to my core. In an instant, He was no longer a distant figure, a statue along the wall or an icon in a frame. He was saying to me, Joe, that He was God. I accepted that reality on the spot and since that day I was forever changed.
I’d like to say that the change was evident to all but as I learned later the change took place on the inside. I kept doing the same things I always did, going out the way I always went out with the guys, but now something was different. I not only didn’t get any fulfillment pursuing my old ways but instead felt something on the inside trying to pull me away from it. But, to what?
When Dawn and I became married, we both knew that there must be something out there that was a deeper expression of our mutual relationship with Jesus Christ. And so, our quest began.”
“I was raised in the roman catholic tradition. I came from an middle class family and for the majority of my life lived in the Buffalo, New York area. We went to mass regularly and yet in spite of it I did the things that a young person often finds themselves doing. Despite that, however, God was always in the picture for me and I would regularly cry out to Him and I always felt His presence. Even so, I didn’t always live for God but I loved Him and wanted Him in my life.
I have a great family; they were great when I was a child and they are great now. Even so, we had some of the same challenges that many families find themselves in today. I thank God for praying parents; Lord knows that they said more than their share for me. At 17 years of age, our family found ourselves coming out of a particularly trying period in our lives. I was looking for something that I could count on. I needed to know that God was on my side.
One day, in this time of searching, I found myself in front of a television watching a Billy Graham crusade. I don’t remember where he was in the world at the time. The important thing is that God used it to get into my world. And, when Billy asked people if they wanted to give their lives to Jesus Christ, I responded; right there in my bedroom.
I’d like to say that after that my life was transformed instantly, but there were a lot of lessons that I had yet to learn. My spirit was changed in an instant, but my mind had quite a ways to go. But the quest for God’s truth and guidance began at that moment. It’s been a journey that has never ended.
Pastors Joe and Dawn Coudriet were married in Pastor Joe’s senior year at Slippery Rock State College (now Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania). After school they took their young family to St. Louis, Missouri, where Pastor Joe worked in the real estate development business. It was there that their family grew in number, and also in the faith. Together they served faithfully at a church for nearly 10 years, serving in various roles as nursery workers, mens and woman’s group leaders, small group participants and others. It is there that they learned the number one character trait of a Christian; Faithfulness.
By 1990, their family had grown to 5 children (one in heaven), all sons, and the opportunity to move back to the East Coast where their extended family lived. This landed them in Syracuse, New York. Within a year of arriving in Syracuse, the family was blessed with the arrival of their only daughter. The Coudriet’s five living children are all born again (Caleb is already in God’s presence). They thank God for the four incredible daughter-in-laws that they now have and they find constant joy in their five granddaughters.
Within a few months of arriving in Syracuse they found themselves attending Abundant Life Christian Fellowship (now Abundant Life Christian Center) under the leadership of Pastors John and Lisa Carter. Like their prior church experience in Missouri, Pastors Joe and Dawn were faithful to serve in any area that was needed and began to attend, and ultimately complete, the church’s training program. In the fall of 1993, having found themselves involved in many different areas of the ministry, Pastor John Carter asked if the couple felt “called” to the ministry. Their response? “Yes.” And with that, 19 years of faithful ministry experience began.