GREENFIELD — There’s no steeple or stained glass. A barbecue restaurant sign hangs just above the one for the church in downtown Greenfield.

And the pulpit at Riley Friends Church is not typical, either.

The Rev. Markus Dennis approached his neighbor, Mike Souder, about making a pulpit for the church that began meeting Feb. 10. That sent Souder searching the internet for pictures of pulpits that would help him develop his own design.

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

The wood came from a red oak tree at another friend’s farm. It went through a chainsaw, a grader and a planer, yet at the end of that process Souder discovered a bullet lodged in the wood.

“The deer got away, … the slug stayed in the red oak tree,” Dennis said.

And so it remains in the oak of the pulpit.

“I figured we might as well leave it in there,” Souder said. “Kind of unique.”

That’s not the only element that separates this piece from other pulpits. Souder, who said building things is a hobby for him, welded the round metal base that supports the pulpit’s wooden frame. He included some horseshoes, saying Dennis likes them.

The work gathered notice during the open houses leading up to Riley Friends’ opening. Now some other churches and ministries are talking to Souder about the possibility of him making a pulpit for them.

“What I liked about it was it seemed open, inviting,” said Linda Ostewig, director of The Landing Place next door. “I love how it differs from standing behind a regular pulpit. Less intimidating to me.”

Souder, who works at Hanger Bolt and Stud Co. Inc. in Greenfield, has built a variety of items over the years, bit by bit, when he could find a little time to work on them. There was a sign for Riley Friends, a table, a bridge built with his son between a school and football field in Rushville, and metal crosses Souder sells at a Riley Festival Booth alongside his girlfriend’s baskets.

This was his first pulpit, and it’s made an impression, Dennis said.

“It’s just real and raw.”

Author photo
Anne Smith is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at