By Anne O'Connor
TOWNSEND -- The newest minister in Townsend and his flock just might be a match made in heaven.
They have the same priorities.
The Rev. Mark Brockmeier's motto is to follow Christ's words to "love one another as I have loved you." The same message taken from John 13:34 is included in the mission statement of the Townsend Congregational Church.
"It chose me, and I chose them, too," Brockmeier said of his new ministry.
Brockmeier joined the church as pastor earlier in the summer. He values the historical aspect of the church and the vitality of the living faith of the congregation.
The Congregational Church has been in Townsend since 1830. "There's one in every town," he said. "It's a faith that connects us locally and denominationally."
Each congregation in the religion is free to determine its own theological and financial affairs. The church members hired him directly. In some other denominations, a central authority assigns pastors to churches.
Brockmeier came to Townsend to serve. "Love your neighbor and serve your neighbor," he said.
Congregationalists find areas to serve the public that are often not visible, he said. As part of the United Church of Christ, they also work with global ministries.
It is up to the congregation to determine how they want to assist the community. "We decide together as a faith," Brockmeier said. "Not everything we do has to be church-centered.
Church members see what the community needs and determines what they can do to help.
For 10 years, the church has run the Village Common Children's Center. "It lets people experience us," he said. "We want a church that cares about their children."
Members of the church have been instrumental in improving life in Townsend for a long time. The Townsend Ecumenical Organization and the Townsend Senior Center both had Congregationalists at the helm when they were established.
The families who have belonged to the church for multi-generations, he said, are part of the building blocks that support the church's mission to serve.
Just as important are the new families who participate in a living faith in the historic congregation, Brockmeier said.
Townsend's newest minister entered divinity school at Boston University after his wife died of lung cancer when he was 40.
"What does this all mean?" he asked himself at the time, "What am I going to do about it?"
His friends encouraged him to enter the ministry and he did, graduating in 2012.
His role in the church is as faith leader, he said, an idea generator and an encourager. As pastor he is set apart but not above the congregation.
"I don't have the answers, but I can help frame the question," he said. "Jesus says to pay attention."
Taking time to reflect is important for a minister, he said, and a part of the job that he enjoys. Long walks with his dog and regular meetings with other clergy help him be a stronger minister.
He also follows Jesus' words and pays attention. While examining the steeple after it was struck by lightning on July 5, a new fact came to light.
The bell was cast by an apprentice of Paul Revere.