Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Minister at First Church

Sean Beals had a nice article in The Hartford Courant on the new minister at First Church of Christ, Congregational.
The new minister at First Church of Christ, Congregational will lead her first worship service Sunday, and said she hopes to build on the diversity of the church congregation.

Rev. Julia Burkey, 27, is originally from Schenectady, N.Y., and was ordained after graduating in May 2012 from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

"I wasn't raised a Christian or in a church," Burkey said. "I was raised by a Buddhist mother and a father who was a philosophy professor."

She said her "call" to become a minister originated for a desire to make love the most important part of her life.

"It was a call to center my life around spirtuality," Burkey said. "I understand God and love to be central. I wanted to go to seminary to make that sprituality central in my life. In a lot of ways it's mysterious to me how I got here, but it also feels really right."

Burkey was selected from several candidates because of her ability to make each person feel important and included, said Gregory Brooks, one of the co-chairs of the church's search committee. He said she is the perfect leader at a time when the church is striving to make everyone feel welcome.

"She is an amazing writer and she is an incredible preacher," Brooks said. "She has a way of making the word of the Bible very current and topical."

Burkey said being part of a forward-thinking church that has been "open and affirming," welcoming all sexual orientations since the early 1990s, is exciting, and said she hopes to incorporate her love of dancing and art into the church.

"There's a lot of room for a church to be reinventing [itself] while still respecting traditions," Burkey said. "Church is an inter-generational thing. There's so much opportunity for personal, human transformation and social transformation."

Burkey also said she plans to spend her first several months as pastor at First Church just getting to know the congregation and the city.

"They already have a lot going on. They're amazing," Burkey said. "Anything we do there will be involvement with the community. We're just going to build on what their gifts are as a congregation."

Rev. John Hall retired from First Church in 2011, and Rev. Brenda Pelc-Faszcza led the Court Street church as the interim minister until last week. Burkey is the first female senior minister at First Church, Brooks said.

No comments: