Niantic, CT, April 04, 2019 --(PR.com
)-- When Iowa native, Rev. Stephanie Haskins moved to Connecticut to become Niantic Community Church’s (NCC) pastor in November, she made a surprising discovery that brought her even closer to her new church family. Not only is she descended from Joseph Loomis, one of Windsor, Connecticut’s founders, she is also a distant cousin of NCC member Liz Kuchta. As historian for NCC and East Lyme, Kuchta helped connect the dots after a tour of the Old Stone Church cemetery in East Lyme and a list of relatives compiled by Haskins’ uncle.
Haskins’ first encounter with New England was during her studies at Andover Newton Theological School where she received a Master of Divinity degree. And, although Haskins visited Connecticut a few times while attending Andover Newton, she never dreamed she would leave Iowa and drive 18,000 miles across country to become pastor of a community church.
“I think NCC is pretty unique. Their heritage is a willingness to think outside of the box,” Haskin says. That heritage began when Niantic’s Methodist and Congregational churches decided to merge in 1953. Both were faced with declining congregations. Rather than close their doors, they bought land, built a church building and opened their doors as Niantic Community Church in 1961. “I was drawn, I like to say called, to NCC by a number of factors – the terrific search committee, the diverse congregation, their commitment to social justice, their community – both local and global, and who doesn’t want to live near the beach?” says Haskins.
John Whritner, who headed up NCC’s pastor search committee, says, “As part of the final interview process, Pastor Stephanie delivered a ‘mock sermon’ to our eight-member search committee. She wowed us. We unanimously agreed she was the one we wanted leading our congregation.”
Haskin previously served as pastor of churches in Des Moines and Maquoketa, Iowa where she led creative worship services, introduced contemplative practices and led the Maquoketa church to being an Open and Affirming congregation. As NCC celebrates its heritage of faith’s 300th year, Haskins sees the church moving forward as a progressive religious community centered on faith building and spiritual development.
For a closer look at Pastor Stephanie, visit the Tiny Faith blog or the Niantic Community Church website at www.NianticCommunityChurch.org.