On Sunday, Monroe Congregational Church named Reverend Jennifer Gingras as its 50th Senior Pastor. Rev. Gingras has been serving as the church's Associate Pastor for five years.
“(I) was called as Senior Pastor by a church community that I love," Rev. Gingras said. "I am thrilled, honored, thankful and ready."
Rev. Gingras succeeds Rev. Peter Allen who served the church for 16 years. Allen left the church in January to become vice president of Simply Smiles, a Southport-based nonprofit agency that helps impoverished children.
A search committee comprised of eleven church members logged more than 500 hours gathering input from church members and conducting an extensive interview process, before unanimously selecting Rev. Gingras as their candidate for Senior Pastor. On Sunday, following a special singel service and candidating sermon by Rev. Gingras, a congregational meeting was held and the church body voted unanimously to approve that recommendation.
“One of the things I love about the Monroe Congregational Church is their passion for helping those in need,” explained Rev. Gingras. "In the community, they have supported Project Warmth and the Monroe Food Pantry. In the region, they have supported the Center for Women and Families, the Bridgeport Council of Churches, Covenant to Care and Habitat for Humanity. Nationally, we have sent our youth group on work trips to New Orleans, Boston and Appalachia – just to name a few. Our adult mission team has ventured to Southern Mexico, Maine and South Dakota. They are generous, compassionate people and I am pleased to serve them in my new role as Senior Pastor."
Rev. Gingras grew up in Madison and attended the North Madison Congregational Church and Silver Lake Conference Center as a child. In 1992, she graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in English. She married Clark Gingras a few months after graduation. Their first child, daughter Cady, was born in 1994.
After college Rev. Gingras worked for 12 years in sports and entertainment marketing; where she dabbled in human resources, software training, systems management, accounts receivable and office administration.
Rev. Gingras discerned a call to Christian Ministry three years after her second child, Zack, was born. She entered a Cooperative M.Div. program, and took classes first at Hartford Seminary then at Yale Divinity School. Her clinical pastoral education was done at Norwalk Hospital, where she provided spiritual care for those in the Oncology and Emergency Departments. She was ordained in 2007.
"I believe that the spiritual life is all about nurturing and maintaining relationships; our relationship with God, with family and friends, with our faith community, with this beautifully fragile world, and with other children of God who we will never meet," Rev. Gingras said. "From its thriving youth programs, to its mission work, to its worship and educational programs, the members and friends of this church community are living examples of God's love."
Monroe Congregational Church will celebrate its 250th birthday in 2014. It is located at 34 Church Street, Monroe and offers services every Sunday at 8:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. They will have special Christmas Eve services at 4 p.m. for children, 7 p.m. for families and 11 p.m. For information, visit www.mcc-ucc.org or find them on Facebook at Monroe Congregational Church, UCC.