Emerson Center9 E Common St, Topsfield, MA 01983
Since this is my first month with you, I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself so that we could get acquainted a little more quickly. I am a native Yankee and my roots go deep here. As far as I know, I am the first congregational minister in my family since Samuel Johnson Sewall was ordained in N. Edgecomb, Maine, in 1795. My wife, Peggy, is from Rochester, NY, and we met at seminary in Chicago. While there we were "urbanized" and have lived in cities ever since. We were in Baltimore while Peggy did her doctorate in American History at the Johns Hopkins University. We then moved to Washington, DC, where we both were Elders in a new church start while I worked on Capitol Hill for two non-profit Christian ministries and she wrote her dissertation. In 1986 we adopted our first child, Nathan, who is half-Vietnamese (now 18 years old and away at college at Michigan Technological University). Shortly thereafter we moved to Cambridge, MA, to start our ministry at Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC. Our third Christmas there we adopted Anna (now 16 years old and a junior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School) who is half-Chinese. Our children, along with our dog, Salamanca, and two cats, Pippin and Garbanzo, are a source of inestimable joy and delight. They are instruments of grace as they open our eyes to the wonder of their world. As a family we enjoy music, hiking, and trying out international foods. Unfortunately, after a valiant struggle of six years, Pilgrim Church closed like many other center city churches. After Pilgrim, I served as the Interim Minister at First Congregational Church (UCC) in Milton, MA, for a year where the average age was 60 and then moved on to serve as the Interim Minister at the United Church of Christ, Congregational, in Burlington, MA, for three years. It was a highly conflicted church, but through much prayer, listening, and hard work, they are in a good place today. While there, I completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at Andover Newton Theological School. My concentration was on an integration of theology and pastoral psychology. My dissertation is called "Living Hope for Dying Churches," which is a theological and sociological analysis of church decline and recommendations for treatment. While a student there I also served as the coordinator for pastoral care (AKA chaplain) and served on the adjunct faculty in the Practical Theology department. I then served Allin Congregational Church (UCC) in Dedham for two years before moving to Grand Rapids.