Meet First Congregational Church's New Pastor
Joseph Medlin seems destined to live and work near a beach. The new pastor at the First Congregational Church grew up in a beach community and now works at another, here in Rockaway, 600 miles away from where he grew up.
Medlin, hailing from the small community of Southport, North Carolina, was recently appointed the new pastor at the church, which is located at 320 Beach 94 Street.
Medlin, who has been here officially for a month, says there is something unique about the people and neighborhoods of Rockaway.
"Most of all, I love the diversity of the area," Medlin said.
Medlin believes diversity is a major strength of his congregation and likes the fact that congregants honor each other's "togetherness and passion for social justice," and feels grateful for the opportinuty to serve the community.
He has one message for the Rockaway readers.
"No matter who you are or where you are in life's journey, you are welcomed at First Congregational Church," he said. "I think people are searching for faith they can own for themselves, which is a great thing."
Medlin, 31, is a graduate of Campbell Divinity School, just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, where he received his master's degree before coming to New York.
It was when Medlin arrived here for postgraduate training at Cornell Medical Center that he felt he received a calling to pastoral work.
"In the process here in New York City, I felt that God was inviting me to parish work," he said.
Medlin knew that First Congregational Church was the place he wanted to be when he got there five months ago for a guest appearance. He was aware at that time that they were in the process of looking for a new pastor, and says he felt a connection that day while he preached at the church. Upon his ordainment in January, he reached out again to the church.
"I had a tremendous experience there," he said. "I knew they were looking for a new pastor, so I sent my profile and we began talking."
"It was a great match," he continued.
When asked about any immediate goals or plans for the church, Medlin said, "Right now I'm into the process of getting to know people and developing relationships with the community.
"For me that's where it all starts, I want to listen and pay attention to the community's needs."
Medlin made an appearance at this month's 100 Precinct Community Council Meeting, where he introduced himself to the crowd and said he looked forward to working closely with the community.