Churches welcome their new pastor

Rev. Martha Carlson was hired to serve as pastor of both First Presbyterian Church in Washingtonville and Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in New Windsor. An installation ceremony is scheduled for Sunday.

Rev. Martha Carlson was hired to serve as pastor of both First Presbyterian Church in Washingtonville and Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in New Windsor. An installation ceremony is scheduled for Sunday.

Sunday will be a busy day for Rev. Martha Carlson.

Her first stop will be in Washingtonville where she’ll preside over a joint service between First Presbyterian Church and Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in New Windsor.

During the service, Rev. Carlson will bless backpacks belonging to kids and teachers. Afterwards, she’ll attend  a homecoming celebration with a carnival theme.

At 4 p.m., Bethlehem Presbyterian Church will hold  an installation ceremony followed by a dinner.

Rev. Carlson was recently hired to serve as pastor of both churches. She began on July 2.  It’s the fourth time that she’s served more than one congregation.

She was eased into the task by only having to perform one service during the summer as the churches took turns hosting Sunday worship.

“They got to meet each other,” Rev. Carlson said. “I got to stay as long as I wanted no matter where we were, which was nice.”

At least until after Christmas, Rev. Carlson will officiate at the 9:30 service in Washingtonville and the 11 a.m. service in New Windsor. She has 30 minutes to travel about four miles, as long as no one stops her to ask a question.

Rev. Carlson said she doesn’t feel rushed, but it’s going to take some time for the congregants at First Presbyterian to get used to the idea of arriving earlier if they want to speak with her.

Writing two sermons won’t be too tall a task as she only has to make slight modifications to gear her message toward each congregation. She spends about 20 hours a week, attending Bible studies and studying the lessons in the lectionary.

Rev. Carlson has been a pastor for 31 years, but ministry wasn’t her initial career. She attended Miami University of Ohio and studied English and classics. She taught Latin to seventh graders and freshmen English at the college level for a year before entering Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

So far, she has enjoyed her time at the two local churches. She loves Bethlehem Presbyterian’s summer program. And she likes First Presbyterian’s involvement in the community.

Before introducing any new programs, Rev. Carlson said she wants to spend more time observing the programs already in existence. She did indicate it’s been a few years since there’s been a confirmation class for youth or a new member class for adults, so she would like to get those going again at some point.

Although her new job has kept her busy, she and her husband Edd have enjoyed camping in the yard. She loves arts and crafts and having conversations with people.

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Jason Kaplan