EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 29, 2012

A look back at 2012, bittersweet for some area congregations

By Yadira Betances

---- — The year 2012 was bittersweet for area congregations, as some area churches celebrated the anniversary of their founding, while others bid farewells to long-time spiritual leaders.

The Rev. Jack Daniel retired after 35 years as pastor of Free Christian in Andover. Also losing its pastor was Christ Church when the Rev. Jeffrey Gill was called to serve in Seattle. He was pastor at the church for 10 years.

Here are other transitions during 2012:

The Rev. Kevin Deeley, a Navy commander, was named pastor at St. Michael Church in North Andover. Deeley, a priest since 1974, replaced the Rev. John W. Delaney, who was named pastor of Sacred Hearts Parish in Bradford and the Rev. Paul T. Keyes, who retired. The Rev. Jerry Hogan, who was ordained along with Deeley, moved to Florida for health reasons. St. Michael is the largest parish in the Archdiocese of Boston with 5,100 families.

Before coming to North Andover, he was temporary administrator at St. Raphael Parish in Medford for two months and before that, was filling in at St. Pius parish in Lynn. He has also served in Dorchester and Brookline and was a chaplain at his alma mater, Matignon High School.

Deeley also worked in the Personnel Office of the Archdiocese of Boston offering support to fellow priests dealing with personal issues.

In 1995, he joined the U.S. Navy and for the next 16 years served as a chaplain ministering to sailors, Marines and their families around the world. One of his assignments was in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006 with the 5th Marine Regiment. Deeley served in Japan on three different assignments as well as Italy and aboard ships including the USS George Washington and USS Blue Ridge.

The Rev. Jonathan Paul had led worship services at Osgood Landing in North Andover, the satellite campus of Free Christian, before being named senior pastor of the church.

Paul was born and raised in Nashua, N.H.. During his high school and college years, he was program director at White Mountain Camp in Rumney, N.H., a Christian camp and retreat facility. Through his connections at the camp he started part-time at Free Christian 10 years ago.

The Rev. Dr. Gale Davis became interim rector at Christ Church, 25 Central St., Andover. She will help the church as it searches for a new senior pastor.

She was ordained in 1989 in the diocese of El Camino Real, Calif. In her years in the ministry, Davis served in San Jose, Calif., Minneapolis, Minn. and in Acton, Mass. She has worked on the diocesan level in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts as a member of the Diocesan Council, President of the Standing Committee, Deputy to General Convention, vestry consultant, retreat leader, and was a member of the Congregational Development Committee served as Dean of the Concord River Deanery and is currently chairwoman of the Resolutions Committee for the Massachusetts Episcopal Diocesan Convention.

Rev. Jane B. Bearden who served as priest in charge at Trinity Episcopal Church in Haverhill for the past three years was named pastor.

Bearden started a music program where 30 children learn how to play the violin, guitar, drum, trumpet, piano and the recorder.

Born in Gilbert, La., Bearden graduated from Centenary College in Shreveport, La., and trained as a medical technologist in Houston. She has a master’s degree in clinical chemistry from Mississippi State University. Before becoming a minister, Bearden worked in hospitals as department director covering credentials, radiology and laboratory. She and her family moved to Georgetown in 1984.

The Rev. Vicki S. Keene became interim minister at First Church Congregational in Methuen. Before being ordained in the United Church of Christ in 2004, Keene worked as an actuary for Sigma Insurance and left as comptroller of ground development to raise her children.

Majors Eduardo and Miguelina Feliz became pastors of the Salvation Army in Lawrence. Eduardo and Miguelina were both born in the Dominican Republic. He worked for Eastman Kodak. Miguelina has a degree in administration from APEC University in Dominican Republic and a degree in sociology from Youngstown State University.

Rev. Deb Shipp was appointed pastor of First United Methodist in North Andover and Tewksbury United Methodist Church. She is joined in ministry by Sawyer, a golden retriever which is a certified therapy and ministry service dog. Sawyer has been Shipp’s partner in ministry for more than seven years and accompanies her in worship, at meetings, and on hospital and nursing home visits.

In her years in the ministry, she has served churches in Providence and Pawtucket, R.I., Bridgewater, Mass., Portsmouth, N.H. and Eliot, Maine. Shipp also spent a year doing urban ministry in Dorchester.

New bishops

The Rev. Sudarshana Devadhar, 61, was named bishop of the New England conference of the United Methodist Church with headquarters in Lawrence, which makes up 630 churches.

Born in India to Christian parents, Devadhar has a bachelor’s in commerce from Vijaya College Mulkiin in India; United Theological College both in India; a master of theology from the Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, a master of philosophy from the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew University in New Jersey and a doctorate degree also from Drew University.

He has been a minister for more than 30 years and has served in India, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, was elected as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. Hirschfeld rector of Grace Episcoapl Church in Amherst, Mass., will be installed on Jan. 5, 2013, succeeding the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, who is retiring.

Calvary Baptist, Haverhill celebrates its 140th Anniversary of its founding in September. Calvary Baptist began as a “Prayer Cottage” in the Bradford section of Haverhill and was formally organized as a church in December 1871.

New England Bible Church in Andover celebrated its 30th anniversary. The church began in 1982 by Tyler’s father, the Rev. Chip Thompson, as an independent non-denominational church. The older Thompson is now in Daytona Beach, Fla. Before the church was built, services were held at an apartment club house, a function hall and restored mill buildings.

Catholics celebrated the opening of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. From 1962 to 1965, more than 2,000 bishops from the world met over the course of four sessions, producing 16 documents. The meetings made significant changes and reforms in the Catholic Church including celebrating Mass in native languages instead of Latin, emphasizing the Eucharist as the source of the faith, establishing a relationship with Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindus, and giving the laity a bigger role in the church.

Temple Emanuel at 7 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover welcomed Rabbi Miriam Philips and Jodi Blankstein, to its pastoral team along with Rabbi Robert Goldstein and Cantor Idan Irelander.

At the temple, Philips works as director of Life Long Learning whose primary responsibility is the religious school program, as well as leading adult education classes and parallel education for parents of children in the religious school. Blankstein, cantorial soloist.

Notre Dame High School in Lawrence welcomed Thomas Arria as its new principal. He replaces Tom Ryan, who led the school for four years. The school was also renamed Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School strengthening its relationship with the Cristo Rey network, of which there are 25 schools across the country.

An educator for 30 years, Arria served as an administrator at Malden Catholic High School, Pope John XXIII High School in Everett and Cathedral High School Boston. He also taught at St. Anthony School in Brighton/Allston and Cathedral High School. He was at Malden Catholic for 30 years where he became the first lay headmaster.

Sister Suzanne Fondini returned to the area as principal of St. Monica School, at 212 Lawrence St., Methuen. She succeeds Sister Alice St. Joseph, who retired. Fondini was principal at Holy Trinity School in Lawrence until it closed in 2006, is back in the area.

Faith Lutheran Church of Andover dedicated the completion of the renovation of 1,625 square feet of space which includes the fellowship, Christian education, youth group and storage space, a covered entrance and installation of sprinkler system throughout the entire church, two skylights in the foyer to help brighten the sanctuary and an air condition and heating split duct system. The addition was going to be done in three phases, but the economic downturn made church members scale back, scraping plans to build a new sanctuary and restrooms. The addition cost $500,000.

The Rev. William F. Waters received the Catholic Leadership Award from his alma mater at St. Anselm College.

The award which recognizes an alum who actively served their church or the greater Catholic community as clergy or lay person. Recipients are chosen by the Alumni Council Executive Committee. Waters graduated from St. Anselm in 1965 with a degree in business and philosophy, and then joined the Augustinian order. Waters has served parishes in Greater Lawrence since 1971, and is now a campus minister at Merrimack College in North Andover.

Bishop John Abdalah, spiritual leader of the Worcester and New England for the Antiochian Orthodox Church visited with members of St. George Orthodox Church in Lawrence. The highlight of his visit was to ordain Deacon Philip Begley to the priesthood. St. George is one of 11 parishes in the Worcester/ New England diocese.

The former Holy Trinity Church property on Avon and Trinity streets was sold for $500,000 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston to real estate investor Alberto Nunez, who may turn some of it into condominiums. The property consists of a church, three-story school, rectory and a parking lot — all totaling 28,000 square feet. Holy Trinity closed in 2004 and the property had been on the market for more than two years.