2008-11-07 / Community

First Congregational Installs New Pastor

The First Congregational Church Choir sings for the crowd. The First Congregational Church Choir sings for the crowd. The First Congregational Church of Rockaway Beach officially installed Reverend Joseph F. Medlin, Jr. as the tenth pastor of the 123-year-old landmark.

Pastor Medlin was drawn to the Beach 94 Street church by the diversity of its congregation, the devotion of its members and the "sense of belonging" exhibited by congregants. He plans to build further upon the success of the existing Sunday School, reinstitute their nursery and continue the free food pantry. He also acknowledges the work of church groups including the Phoenix Youth Group, Ladies Aid Society and Women in Action.

The 32-year-old pastor was born in North Carolina and moved to New York City almost four years ago. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Campbell Divinity School. He completed a oneyear residency in clinical pastoral education at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Campus, as a hospital chaplain. He then served as a staff chaplain at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, an institution dedicated to the care of terminally ill adult cancer patients, for one and one-half years.

Reverend Joseph Medlin, the newly installed Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Rockaway Beach. Right, "Setting the Stage" Youth Chorus performed U-2's rendition of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," at the request of the pastor. Reverend Joseph Medlin, the newly installed Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Rockaway Beach. Right, "Setting the Stage" Youth Chorus performed U-2's rendition of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," at the request of the pastor. The pastor was formally ordained in January 2008 at his home church, the Broadway United Church of Christ, in Manhattan. When asked about his goals for the Rockaway Beach church he explains "I am trying to cultivate the sense of belonging within the greater community; we are an open and affirming church regardless of a person's creed or culture … it is a place where everyone finds a home."

The Reverend Bob Gunn, Pastor Medlin's mentor and interim pastor at Broadway UCC, delivered the sermon during the installation. Under the direction of Linda Lensu, the church choir filled the church with song and the Setting the Stage Youth Chorus and Vocal School performed under the direction of Michael and Sheila Finnegan. Pastor Medlin thanked church clerk Dianne Gaertner for continuously helping during his time with the congregation, as well as those who helped prepare the post-ceremony feast which included Goody's of Arverne, for providing West Indian specialties; member Nancy Vardakis for providing "invaluable" assistance decorating the church with flower arrangement from Danielle's Florist and a bible cake complete with edible "Footprints in the Sand," which was decorated by Cynthia Peithman of Cakeline.

"Pastor Joseph" describes himself as an art, museum and jazz music lover. He lives in the parsonage near the church with his dog, a Boxer named Grissom, named after the CSI character.

Lori Maguire, head deacon (far right) asks Reverend Tucker of the Metro Association of the UCC (center) to install Reverend Medlin as Pastor. Diane Gaertner (far left) and Dr. Min Ng (second from right) looks on. Lori Maguire, head deacon (far right) asks Reverend Tucker of the Metro Association of the UCC (center) to install Reverend Medlin as Pastor. Diane Gaertner (far left) and Dr. Min Ng (second from right) looks on.

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