We convened………we prayed……..we got to know each other……..we studied our survey results……..we wrote our parish profile………we sought candidates……..we interviewed candidates……..we listened to God and each other………and……..we voted UNANIMOUSLY to call the Rev. Melissa Howell as our new rector.
Who are “WE”?
We are your Search Committee!
Judy Lutz – Committee Chair, Katie Chin, Deborah Dines, Ann Fowler, Debbie Hill, Arnie Kaupp, Alex Manchester, Lynne Neeley, Amanda Peterson, and Robb Pflock.
We couldn’t have done this without the prayers and support from you, our parishioners. We also realized a side benefit of this process: we got to know each other! We recognized that God was working with us………how else can we explain the unanimous selection? Judy Lutz and Robb Pflock presented Melissa to our vestry at the October meeting. Judy noted that the unanimous agreement in the selection of Melissa indicated God was at work. They characterized her as “very spiritual and exuding joy”. Not surprisingly, this aligns very well with the results of our parish-wide survey. Following a “meet and greet” with Melissa, the vestry voted unanimously to accept the Search Team’s recommendation. Since then, we have completed the ”Covenant of Ministry” with Melissa, the diocesan paperwork that makes her ministry with us official.
For the past year, Melissa has been the bridge priest at Grace Church in New Bedford. Prior to then, she was first a curate and then an assistant Rector, also at Grace Church. They, as we, found it very difficult to find an interim minister to lead the church during transition. Melissa was asked to continue to serve Grace Church, effectively as an interim.
Melissa received her Master of Divinity from the School of Theology at the University of the South in May 2020. She was ordained to the priesthood in January 2021 by Bishop Harris at Grace Church. Her previous degrees are from Boston University: BA in Hispanic Language and Literature and BS in Modern Foreign Language Education, both in 2003.
Between 2003 and 2018, Melissa served in many different positions:
- Spanish teacher: Cambridgeport School and King School and Barnstable High School
- Clinical Research Coordinator: Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine
- Program Manager: Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Neurologic Emergencies
- Chaplain Intern: Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- Hospice Volunteer: Care Dimensions
Melissa brings us a wealth of experience in service to others. Her history shows a path that increasing movement toward God and a life of parish ministry.
Melissa writes to us:
“Dear Christ Church Parish,
God’s grace and peace to you! It is an honor and a deep blessing to be called to minister together with you in Plymouth as your next rector. During these months of gracious discernment, I have learned about and experienced some of the many ways you are faithfully living into your name and calling to be the Body of Christ in your community—providing shelter and nourishment to your neighbors, engaging in intentional and creative stewardship and sharing of your God-given gifts, offering healing and care to one another, centering spirituality and formation for your children and all ages, joyfully gathering for food and fellowship, and honoring Jesus’s presence among you each Saturday and Sunday in song and prayer, Word and Sacrament. Your cooperation with the Holy Spirit in making Christ’s love known to one another and to your neighbors shines brightly, and it will be a privilege to join and partner with you in this holy work. I bid your prayers for me and for the parish of Grace Church in New Bedford for this threshold time of saying goodbye, even as I look forward to a joyful hello with you in Advent. Please know my prayers have been with you and will continue for you.
Gratefully yours in Christ,
Melissa was born in New Bedford and grew up on the South Coast of Massachusetts. She lives in her home town of Fairhaven with her husband Alex, who works as a director for a hospitality group. They both enjoy books, movies, making and sharing food, the outdoors, and dogs—they are currently the chosen humans of Nori, a chihuahua mix.
Melissa is passionate about pastoral care, Christian formation for all ages, preaching, and theologies that explore the intersections of story, memory, and healing for individuals and communities. She loves the water, poetry, flowers, and birds.
Melissa will be joining us on December 5th. Her first weekend with us will be December 9/10.
Blessings and peace,
Bill Ferguson – Senior Warden, John Steele – Junior Warden
Ray Rogers – Treasurer, Donna Eby – Clerk
Brenna Buckley, Drew Lench, Kat Libretto, Makenzie Manchester,
Becky Metzger, Robb Pflock, Randy Pond, Jack Willett, Martha Zinger