Interim Rector – The Rev. Celeste Hemingson
My Second Chapter, by Celeste Hemingson
As I look forward to hearing your stories—your individual faith journeys and your journey as a church—I thought I should share my own story—at least its most recent chapter:
Moving to New Hampshire in 1987 was the fulfillment of a life-long dream for my late husband, Peter, and me. I managed the Concord Social Security office until 1999, when I retired to go to divinity school full time and, with God’s help, to become a priest.
1987 was also the year I returned to the Episcopal Church, the church I grew up in. During the previous twenty-five years our only religious observances had been the weddings, funerals, Passover Seders, and Bar Mitzvahs of our many Jewish friends in New York City. I learned a lot about the Holocaust from them, and I began to worry whether I would have the conscience and courage to stand up against violence and hatred if something like that should ever happen here. I figured being part of a faith community might give me a better chance to live up to that.
It was learning about the Bible in a study group at St. Andrew’s Church in Hopkinton that got me started going to divinity school part time in 1995. I wasn’t at all interested in ministry then. But I had discovered the richness of the Bible, and what scholars have discovered about how it was put together, and I wanted to learn all I could; and so I went to graduate school.
When Peter died suddenly in 1997, God sent me on a journey to a place I had never seen. With my priest, Hank Junkin, I called the unknown place “New Self.” Along the way I learned many things: I learned to pray. I learned to trust God, even when I didn’t know where I was going. I learned to recognize the Holy Spirit and to seek her out when needed. But I still believe that my call to ordained ministry proves that God has a sense of humor. Or, as Bishop Rob puts it: “God Surprises.”
My call has always been to interim ministry. Since ordination in 2003, I’ve served six churches: St. Thomas in Hanover, St. Paul’s in Concord, St. Mark’s in Ashland, St. Andrew’s New London, All Saints’ Peterborough, and Christ Church in North Conway. And now I look forward to serving you.
In Christ, Celeste
Office Administrator – Kelly Kennerson
Volunteer Office Staff – Alice Kelchner
Organist – Joshua Desrochers
Sexton – Roger Fortier
Safe Church Officer – Kelly Kennerson
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