2022 Pastor Updates
November 5, 2021
The First Church Search and Renewal
Committee is very pleased to announce that we
have found a very qualified candidate to fill the
position of the Interim Minister. The Rev. Susan Murtha will be starting as of February 1, 2022. She is expert in helping churches turn around and comes highly recommended. She will work with us to help make us a stronger congregation, and in helping to find a settled pastor. Rev. Murtha has served a number of churches in the greater southern Connecticut area and has special training in Interim Ministry. Her full profile is on file in the church office for viewing by any church member. We are very excited to be getting someone of her caliber to help with our journey moving forward!
Interim Ministry is typically 18 to 24 months. This will be a time of discernment for First Church in which we assess our strengths and challenges initially, then develop plans for our future while being led and coached by Rev. Murtha. Requisite in this is involvement, engagement, and support for each other and for our collective vision of our future. You will be asked to contribute, so please do so without hesitancy. We will need to work cohesively in assessing and deciding on our future in faith. With all of this, we must be flexible with our discernment and our expectations, we must be inclusive of all, and respectfully encourage all voices to be heard.
Rev. Murtha will be working as a part-time minister and will preach two Sundays a month, which will include all the major holiday Sundays. We have been blessed with great Guest Preachers over the last nine months and will continue to have them on Sundays when Rev. Murtha will not be preaching. The Rev. Janice Touloukian has offered to continue as On Call Pastor helping with visitations and congregational needs when Rev. Murtha is not available. We are so blessed to have Janice in our flock!
The Search and Renewal Committee’s work is not complete. We will continue to meet and engage pulpit supply ministers for the remaining two services a month. As always, we encourage you to contact any of us with your ideas and thoughts. Over time, we will also need to convene a Settled Minister search, once the interim and renewal process yields ideas as to the best plan for our future.
This coming year will be an exciting time in our church! With the help of Rev. Murtha as our Interim Minister we will look inward, together, to find the best fit for a Settled Minister. Please join us in this faith journey.
Sue Stoddard, Penny Rogers, Judy Reynolds, Richard Forselius, Jesse Hubbard & Roger Calistro
Search and Renewal Committee News
Dear new friends at First Church of Christ Woodbridge,
First, thank you very much for your patience over the past
months as I completed my interim ministry at the United
Church of Christ, Southbury. I am delighted to be called as
your Interim Minister in Woodbridge and I very much look
forward to beginning our ministry on February 1st – learning
about your personal and community faith journeys, and
leading your congregation through a faithful and fruitful “all-church” process of discussion, discernment, and decision-making about your future. That’s a mouthful, I know! So, what’s first? …
“Session with Susan”!
Please stay-tuned for updates about how to join one of these six small group sessions – at the church or via Zoom – in the month of February. This is our first step and we want every member of FCCW to participate in one these sessions! Note that I plan to create the schedule for these small group conversations before I arrive on February 1st (or shortly thereafter); so, keep your eyes out for the options coming your way.
Since we will get to work quickly, I thought a few words of introduction here may be helpful and of interest:
I am a Connecticut native, though I have lived and/or spent extended periods of time in few other states and countries. My 36-year-old son, his wife and two children live in California and visit with family in Connecticut for extended stretches. Simon is an engineer working on the autonomous vehicle project (aka the self-driving car) and his wife, Sarah, works in the field of corporate environmental sustainability. And yes, their children, ages 6 and 3, are the light of life!
Backing up a bit … Raised as a Roman Catholic, my personal search for spiritual and religious nurture began in my college years as an engineering student. (Yes, engineering is a multi-generational theme in my family!) Among the richest of my experiences were six years worshipping with the Quaker Friends in northeast Connecticut. It was in the prayerful silence of those Sunday gatherings that I first heard God’s call to preach the Gospel, though it would take some years until I acted upon that call. In my late-twenties, I left my engineering career to be a stay-home mom and homemaker. Our family found a church home at First Church of Christ in Mansfield, and it was there that clergy leaders and church members encouraged me to pursue a vocation in ministry. My years as a part-time seminarian at Andover Newton Theological School (1997 graduate) were blessed and prepared me so well for church ministry. In 2011, my then Regional Minister encouraged me to take the trainings for intentional interim ministry; I did, and it became a second calling for me. For the past 10 years, I’ve been serving as an interim minister to churches in transition. It’s an honor, a challenge, and a deep blessing to lead and guide congregations through seasons of significant change.
There’s more, but that’s enough for now! Fun fact: Epiphany is my favorite season in the church year. In this season between Christmas and Lent, we rejoice that God’s light and truth and grace are shown forth to all the world. I look forward to meeting you and your world in mid-Epiphany!
Rev. Susan Murtha,
Interim Senior Minister