From the President


The Search Committee and Board of Deacons are delighted to introduce the Rev. Richard H. Woodward who will lead our Sunday worship services on February 7th and 14th.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about Pastor Rich!

To those of us close to five feet tall, Pastor Rich, at 6’6”, is someone to look up to! We have learned from both personal interaction and many positive references that he has a gentle soul and a passion to serve Christ and to bring together people who are seeking a spiritual relationship with God from a wide variety of backgrounds.

He was raised in Royal Oak MI, ordained into the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC) and served many years as a senior pastor for a United Church of Christ (UCC) congregation. While serving his congregations, he was active in the local community through youth athletic programs, nursing home visitations, and prison ministry. Currently, as an independent, trained, and experienced transitional interim minister, he is not under the auspices of any ministry, conference, or denomination.

Pastor Rich and his wife, Martha, are no strangers to Massachusetts, having served two settled pastorates for 28-years: East Freetown (NACCC) for 4-years and Dunstable (UCC) for 24-years. His passion to minister to church communities that may have retired or lost a settled pastor or are struggling in general led him to attend two interim training programs and serve as an interim minister since 2014. Three churches have been richly blessed by his mentoring and successful guidance of their search for a settled pastor: Ashley Falls, MA (independent), Sherman, MA (CCCC) and, most recently, Plymouth, CT (ABC). The Woodward children and grandchildren live near Boston.

Just a few weeks ago, the Search Committee and the Woodwards enjoyed a delightful afternoon in Marion followed by dinner at the Silvershell Inn. The committee unanimously agreed to submit his name to the Board of Deacons to serve as a supply pastor in February. The Deacons agreed and invited him to preach on two Sundays: February 7 and 14.

With prayer, the Search Committee looks to the possibility of submitting Pastor Rich’s name to the Executive Council to be considered as our transitional interim minister, a pastor who will guide us through a time of reconciliation, build consensus, and coach us in finding a new settled minister. If this recommendation happens, the EC will review it and vote whether –or not—to appoint Pastor Rich to this position.

Please join our worship service this Sunday and next, either on zoom or in person in the sanctuary, to hear Rev. Woodward and meet both him and his wife Martha immediately after the service. This “meet and greet” session will be in lieu of Vestry Café. We hope you’ll enjoy learning more about Pastor Rich, Martha and their family.

You may wonder how we found a candidate so quickly. Actually, Rev. Woodward’s resume came to the attention of the EC last December 15, but his consideration was delayed until the search committee was formed on January 12.

Any questions or input you may wish to give to the Search Committee should be sent by email to me between now and the end-of-day, February 14 –

Yours in Christ,

Janet Reinhart, EC President & Interim Minister Search Committee Chair