New pastor chosen for a New Milford church in mourning
NEW MILFORD — It was two years ago that Northville Baptist Church lost its pastor to cancer. Then, months later, the congregation of about 50 lost the late pastor’s wife. Cancer, again.
On Sunday, after a lengthy period of mourning and then candidate searching, they’ll install a new pastor. Calvin Fergins Jr., 33, wasn’t brought in to replace the Rev. Matt Yukon, who served the church for 16 years. He was hired to continue Yukon’s mission of preaching compassion and understanding, said Gary Millar, chairman of the church’s deacon board.
“Even on his deathbed, Matt would say, ‘God is good. He is still good,,” Millar said.
Recounting a time Yukon was asked by a churchgoer if another attendee could take communion even though they had sinned, Yukon responded that it was for God to judge, not clergy, Millar said.
Originally from Washington, D.C., he attributes his open-mindedness to missionary work in Northern Ireland and Serbia, both countries dealing with religious divisions.
“When you sit down and talk to someone, understand them, it’s much harder to make them a caricature,” he said.
Millar said nonjudgmental thinking is what made Fergins a perfect fit.
“In our church, you don’t have to clean up your act to come in,” he said.
He considered going into academia before “hearing the call” and ministering as a pastoral intern, chaplain and associate pastor at several churches. Married last year, Fergins and his wife Lindsey moved to New Milford in December. They are expecting their first child this summer.
Fergins said he is still learning about his new congregation, and he is impressed by what he’s seen.
“They’re warm people,” he said. “I’m just honored. This will be my first senior pastor position.”
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