News Articles

The following article was published in the “Wilmington Star News”newspaper
on April 25, 2007:

By Amanda Greene
Wilmington Star Photo by Matt Born

The Rev. Karl Zorowski has spent most of his adult life drawing rodents.

Oh, he’s done a few other things, too. Like becoming a preacher at two Methodist churches in the Whiteville area. And being a husband to Cheryl and father to Aspen, 3, and Kirsten, due in May.

But he always comes back to his rats and mice.

While attending N.C. State University in 1980, Zorowski started a comic strip about campus life called Joe Rat after seeing a rat crawl out of a trash can. The strip ran in the campus’ newspaper The Technician for a few years but never caught the eye of a national syndicate, dashing Zorowski’s hopes to turn his ‘toons into cash.

After college, he tried to expand his audience with a strip called Rat Race, but that also failed with the syndicates.

“I was really distressed, and my best friend from college, David Bass, told me I should do a Christian cartoon,” Zorowski said. “I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard.”

But the idea wouldn’t leave Zorowski.

After praying about a possible name for this new cartoon, he came up with Church Mice in 2001, which follows the adventures of a mouse preacher named Pastor Cheese and his flock. The strip’s subtitle is “God does have a sense of humor!”

Church Mice - with its sermon humor and sometimes serious topics – turned out to be a blessing to Zorowski and to churches around the world. He’s drawn about 150 strips and sends free comics weekly to about 250 church Web sites worldwide, from Africa to New Zealand, Canada to Scotland.

“It gives me an opportunity to use my drawing ability, my most precious talent, to point people toward God so they can see him,” said Zorowski, pastor at Lebanon United Methodist Church and Bethel United Methodist Church in the Whiteville/ Tabor City area.

‘Ever been in love, preacher?’

Church Mice was born during a time of emotional and spiritual turmoil in Zorowski’s life. While singing Here I am Lord during a early 1990s service at a Baptist church in Raleigh, Zorowski felt that “God made it plain that I should go into ministry.”

But Zorowski’s first marriage was falling apart, and he was soon dealing with a divorce and some serious anger at his maker.

“I was just feeling like my life was just completely in pieces,” Zorowski said, “and I went into my church and yelled at God and told him my life was a mess and it was all his fault.”

Some of Zorowski’s early comics reflect those struggles.

The Deacon asks the preacher, “Ever been in love, preacher?” And the preacher says: “I was once but she broke my heart. I told God he had no idea how bad it hurt . . . After all, he’d never been in love. He’d never had his heart broken. Know what he told me? He said he knew what it felt like because I broke his heart everyday.”

And the deacon says: “As do we all.”

Eventually, Zorowski’s heart healed, and he met Cheryl through an online Christian dating service. She had her own faith-based talent – Cheryl is a Christian clown named Skeedaddle who entertains church groups in the Whiteville area. They married in 2002, and now she leads children’s church services.

‘God, Good. Devil, Bad. Amen.’

Zorowski said if he had to put a voice to Pastor Cheese, the mouse would probably sound a lot like him. Already, the mini-pastor’s travails reflect his own.

“I try to write about some of the struggles I go through where they (the congregation) look at you and forget you’re human,” he said. Strips about “people having an aversion to trying new things in church and people’s misunderstandings of the pastor, of scripture and of God.”

Church Mice preaches a general Christianity – God, the father, and Jesus, his son. Zorowski sometimes uses one simple joke, like in his Da Vinci Code take-off where the preacher holds his Bible out to the congregation and says “Why do we need da Vinci when we’ve got da truth?” Or, he’ll draw didactic strips such as his series of mice-sized sermonettes or write a poem.

One poem for an Easter strip came to him during his daily prayer time.

“O blessed Lord, you gave thyself upon that wicked tree. I thank thee now for dying there to save what’s left of me.”

He’s taken material from the news but said he has to be careful not to offend his readers.

“I did a couple of cartoons about the Iraq War . . . and one guy all but accused me of being a terrorist sympathizer,” Zorowski said.

Sharon Kimbleton, Webmaster at Greenbelt Baptist Church in Greenbelt, Md., was revamping her church’s Web site when she read Church Mice online and added it to the site.

“It’s good art, and just the messages give you food for thought,” Kimbleton said.

The most rewarding part of drawing the comics, Zorowski said, are the e-mailed testimonies about how Church Mice helped a person get closer to God.

A monastery in China told him they were using Church Mice to teach English to Taiwanese orphans.

A man in Zimbabwe takes the comic strip to his church each week and reads it during their service, he said.

A man in England read the ‘toon and decided to dedicate his life to spreading the gospel. When he died, a Church Mice comic strip was placed in his coffin.

“If I can make (Christianity) approachable with Church Mice, I hope people see through it that God loves them,” Zorowski said.

(Copyright 2007, Wilmington Star-News, Used with Permission)

The following article was published in the “Tabor-Loris Tribune”newspaper
on April 25, 2007:

“Zorowski Serves God as Pastor, Cartoonist”
by David Snipes, Tabor-Loris Tribune

Whether he’s preaching from a pulpit or drawing with his cartoonist’s pen, Karl Zorowski is answering the call to serve God.  Zorowski, 47, is pastor of Bethel and Lebanon United Methodist churches near Tabor City. He conducts services in each church every Sunday morning. Zorowski also “preaches” through a cartoon strip entitled “Church Mice.” The humorous but God-inspired message found in the cartoon can be found on Zorowski’s Internet website at

A native of Pittsburgh who grew up in Raleigh, Zorowski has been a cartoonist longer than he’s served in the ministry. “I have been drawing for as long as I can remember and have wanted to be a cartoonist as long as I can remember,” Zorowski said. The first time Zorowski had one of his cartoons published was in 1979 in The Technician, N.C. State University’s school newspaper. Zorowski is a 1982 graduate of NCSU’s School of Design with a bachelor’s of environmental design/product design. Zorowski developed a comic strip called “Joe Rat” in the fall of 1980 and that was published regularly in the NCSU paper until he graduated. “It was mostly about college life,” Zorowski said. “One cartoon I drew got me chewed out by (former NCSU coach) Jim Valvano. He didn’t like what I had about his basketball team and he let me know.”

A few of Zorowski’s “Joe Rat” cartoons were printed after he graduated. In late 2000, Zorowski came up with a new strip called “Rat Race,” which “was basically ‘Joe Rat’ updated,” he said. Zorowski, who had longed dreamed of a career as a cartoonist, tried to get his new strip syndicated but was rejected. “I was really crushed because for close to 20 years, I had this dream that I’d get ‘Joe Rat’ in the daily newspapers,” Zorowski said. “For 20 years, I had dreamed about that. It really crushed me.” Meanwhile, Zororski worked as a designer and did trade show work. He eventually was designing museum exhibits for visitor centers for the N.C. State Parks Department.

After not answering what he perceived as a call to the ministry about 12 years ago, Zorowski reluctantly responded to a call in December 2001. It came while he was attending a Wednesday night church service. “We were singing ‘Here I am Lord’ and I felt the call,” Zorowski said. “I felt like God was telling me to do something, that He had plans for me, that He wanted me to be a minister. “I was extremely unhappy. I said ‘no, no, this isn’t happening’. “It was a process where God had to beat me down for about a month. I had felt (the call) before, the first time around 1995. Because of the circumstances in my life, I decided not to answer it. When I was called again, I decided to follow it.” Zorowski first consulted with a minister, who told him “if you can imagine yourself doing anything else at this time, do it,” Zorowski said. “I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

Zorowski’s background included being raised in the Presbyterian Church, attending an Episcopal school, having Polish Catholic grandparents, attending a Southern Baptist church for 10 years and then attending a Methodist church. Zorowski decided to become a Methodist minister. “I like the doctrine of the Methodist church,” Zorowski said. “I like the way the Methodist church does things.” Zorowski didn’t perform his first sermon as a pastor until February 2004. “There’s a process you have to go through for the United Methodist Church,” Zorowski said. “You have to go through some books and studies” (plus other things).

In the meantime, “Church Mice” was originated by a reluctant Zorowski. His best friend, David Bass, suggested that Zorowski draw a Christian-oriented comic. “David told me God told him I needed to do a Christian cartoon,” Zorowski said. “I told him that was about the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. I said the syndicates and papers didn’t want a Christian cartoon. “After wrestling with it, I sat down and started to sketch. I sketched out a mouse dressed in a pastor’s robe. I came up with the ‘Church Mice’ name. It all fell into place.”

Zorowski has been drawing “Church Mice” since October 2001. His comic strip never received syndication approval but it appears in church bulletins and church newsletters around the world. It also is featured in the N.C. Christian Advocate, a monthly newspaper of the N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church. Zorowski makes the cartoon strip, whose main character is “Rev. Cheese”, available free on his website to churches that print less than 1,000 bulletins or newsletters each week. “Anybody can use it,” he said. “I realize smaller churches just don’t have money. A cartoon can really dress up a bulletin. “God did not give me this comic strip to make money. He had other purposes behind it.”

Zorowski received his first pastoral assignment in February 2004. He served two small churches, Shiloh UMC and Leah’s Chapel UMC, in Franklin County outside Louisburg. He was classified as a part-time interim pastor for 5 months. “There’s no such thing as a part-time pastor,” said Zorowski, who also was working at his state job, drawing cartoons and becoming a father. “That all kept me very busy. It was more than one person could do.”

Zorowski is married to the former Cheryl Wilbur, a native of Denver, Colo. They have a three-year-old daughter, Aspen, and are expecting another daughter at the end of May. A professional clown, Cheryl is a children’s entertainer. She performs as “Skeedaddle the Clown.” She does birthday parties, special events, parades and church events. Working with balloons and face painting is part of her gig. “I can tell people I’m married to a clown and I don’t get in trouble for that,” Zorowski said.

Zorowski came to Columbus County in June 2004. He resigned from his state job when accepting the pastorate of Bethel and Lebanon UMCs. “When I moved down here, that’s when I left my design career,” Zorowski said. “That was a hard job to leave because I really enjoyed working for the state.” Zorowski says he has “very much” enjoyed his stay in Columbus County. “I’ve liked it a lot,” he said. “It’s a big change living here rather than in Raleigh. It’s a much slower pace of life here and I like that.”

As for “Church Mice,” the website proclaims that “God does have a sense of humor!” It informs that “Church Mice is the heavenly comic strip that dares to ask, ‘What’s so funny about church’?” Zorowski said the strip deals with sometimes funny church matters. It also reveals Biblical truths without seeming to preach, he feels. “I can tell people that God loves them,” Zorowski said. “I’m trying to make God’s work a little more approachable. It’s not as in your face as a preacher thumping a Bible.” The website also includes Zorowski’s sermons and “God’s Plan of Salvation.”

Zorowski said, “What makes ‘Church Mice’ worthwhile is when I get an e-mail from someone who says it helped them take a new direction in their life.” Zorowski said he’s expressed thanks and gratitude to his good friend, Bass, for suggesting his doing a Christian comic strip. Zorowski said he talks to Bass, who is a strong Christian, about 4-or-5 times during the week. “David is very much part of ‘Church Mice’,” Zorowski said. “He’s the one who planted the seed. “I have been unbelievably happy with how it’s worked out. I’ve been surprised with how it turned out.

“Because I put it on the Internet, I hear from people all over the world. The cartoon has been read online in about 150 countries that I’m aware of.” Zorowski said he plans to continue serving God as both a pastor and as a cartoonist. “They’re both doing God’s work,” Zorowski said.

(Reproduced with Permission)