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Pastor says church’s strength is its sense of community

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GROTON — The new pastor of West Groton’s Christian Union Church said she plans to make her congregation an integral part of the larger Nashoba Valley community.

“The people of Christian Union Church chose me for a number of reasons, the most important of which was my emphasis on youth,” said Jamie Green, who originally hails from Beloit, Wis. “I’ve been a youth director for five or six years now. Also, at Harvard I’m involved in youth ministry classes. I’m pursuing a certificate in youth ministry there and church members really appreciated that.”

Green said she was chosen as the new pastor by a search committee made up of church members. She has been given the temporary title of director of pastoral ministries, until she can be formally ordained as the congregation’s new pastor. She guessed the ordination would come before the end of the year.

Green will replace the church’s former pastor, Chris Matthewson, who left in June.

Green graduated cum laude from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., with a B.A. in religion and Jewish studies before moving to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Divinity School. Currently in her second year at Harvard, with one year left, Green is pursuing a master of divinity degree, focusing on youth ministry and social action.

According to Green, members of her congregation liked her background in youth ministry and made it a key factor in their decision to accept her as the new pastor. Since then, she has moved quickly to fulfill their expectations by creating a youth-led group for service and fellowship, with its first meeting this month, intended for young people in grades six to 12.

Working with young people is not a new experience for Green, who first had a taste of it when she lived in Wisconsin. In fact, her youth experience was a key factor in her decision to enter the clergy.

“I felt called as a pastor,” explained Green. “When I was in college and working at my church back home as a youth director, I felt a really strong call to continue that kind of work. Actually, at the time, I was pursuing a career in journalism but all of a sudden, working at this church, I realized that I could help more people as a pastor than if I were a journalist. I just felt that I wanted to be really active with people instead of just writing about them.”

That yearning to get more involved has extended beyond Harvard’s Divinity School and into Green’s new position as pastor of the Christian Union Church.

“One of the most amazing strengths that I really love about this congregation is its sense of community,” said Green. “It’s so important to the people here and you can see it in everything they do. I mean, even with a small congregation, our church dinners will bring in 150 people. That’s really amazing! People here have a sense of their own community. They live and work in West Groton and really seem to care about each other, and care for each other. I’ve seen how they really show love for one another and then to those outside the community and I found that to be one of their really great strengths.”

With her focus established, the real work begins.

“As a church, I think we could do so much more,” said Green. “There are people who are hungry and poor and really need help but I don’t see our church doing as much as it could. It’s doing really wonderful things, but I feel we could be doing so much more to help people. But because the church has this great sense of community, it can help us to reach out even more.

“I’m hoping to use the month of December to introduce a new element in our worship service called ‘passing of the gift,'” said Green. “Basically, it will be in recognition of the fact that we’ve all been given gifts and that we should pass those gifts along. So, during the month of December, during our services, people will be encouraged to say what they’re thankful for and talk about the gifts they’ve been given and how they might share those gifts with others.”

Green will also focus the congregation’s attention to the Heifer Project, based in Rutland.

“There are many ways we can share our gifts,” Green said. “I think it’s really important for us to be intentional in our giving to others.”

Green, who signed a contract with the Christian Union Church on Nov. 1, said that her duties as pastor of the 40-plus member congregation will require only 15 hours of her time each week.

“Fortunately my class schedule at Harvard is very open and I’m only working part-time at the church,” said Green. “So actually, it’s not going to be very hard at all to balance school and work.”

West Groton’s Christian Union Church is affiliated with the larger Congregationalist United Church of Christ in Groton proper.

Green invites those interested to visit her church located at 37 West Main Street in West Groton where services are held Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. or drop in at her office Mondays, 1 to 4 p.m., or Fridays, 9 a.m. to noon. Green can also be reached at (608) 346-0800 or on by e-mail to jgreen1027@yahool.com.