The Recorder – A new pastor finds her rhythm at the Federated Church of Charlemont

Posted: 7/12/2021 14:52:17 PM

Modified: 12/07/2021 14:51:49 PM

CHARLEMONT – After three years of having an interim pastor and deputy preachers, the Federated Church of Charlemont has a new established pastor.

The 176-year-old church hired Reverend Julia Khan on August 23 and she was ordained in October. Since then, she has learned about the community and how it can better meet the needs of residents.

“I feel like this church and I are on the same page in terms of what we envision for the church community, working for social justice and a fair future for all. So that was a draw, and small towns, for me, are also exciting and interesting, ”she said in her office last week. “It feels good. You know, it takes a bit, I think sometimes, to find a rhythm and to get the groove moving, but I think we’re there now. I feel like I’m starting to understand this. community in particular and what is the best way to serve.

Khan was most recently at Westhampton Congregational Church, where she served for about a year after working as a chaplain for Soldier On, a non-profit organization providing housing and other services to the homeless and veterans in difficulty.

“It’s brand new, you know? All I can say is it’s like a shiny new car, in the sense that everything is exciting, ”she said. “It’s a wonderful place. Right now, I think we’re at the start of some wonderful things.

Khan, 42, said she would like to expand the church’s food bank and help the refugees.

“I think the # 1 agenda for any church is: how do we share the love of God and make it tangible for as many people as possible? She explained.

Khan took an atypical path towards the clergy of the Congregation. She said she was raised in New York City by evangelical religious parents who rarely attended church because they were skeptical of compliance. She attended the University of Southern California, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in religion. It was there that a professor recommended her to apply for Union Theological Seminary in New York, a suggestion she initially rejected. However, she later attended the funeral of this teacher’s wife, and that experience changed everything.

“It was this episcopal church called All Saints and… when I walked into this church, it was the first time that I really felt that God could be in a building and with people,” she recalls. “You could tell that something good was going on here. And it just attracted me. It took me about two years, however, to start attending.

She became an Episcopal in her twenties and eventually applied to Union Theological Seminary, where she graduated in 2016 after four years of study.

“It was one of those things that just wouldn’t let go of me. I finally had to give in, ”said Khan, who briefly considered a career as a military chaplain.

In-person worship at the Charlemont Federated Church has recently resumed and Khan said it has an average of 50 attendees each Sunday. While that can be considered a good number these days, the new pastor said the goal is still to recruit new members.

But she recognized that it takes a lot of work, as many people have become disenchanted with organized religion. Khan said she understands this, as a gay, married woman. She said her parents only recently came to terms with her sexual orientation, after around 20 years.

Khan lives in Amherst which makes a 40 minute commute that she loves.

“How can you complain when driving along the 2 and along the Deerfield River?” It’s beautiful, “she said.” I love it. It’s so wonderful to be out of town and be able to hike and see nature without having to pay $ 50 and (cross) two bridges and all that stuff.

Sunday services start at 9:30 am. Masks and social distancing are required.

Khan can be contacted at [email protected] The church can be reached at 413-339-4294.

Contact Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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