On Sunday, April 19, our members unanimously voted to call The Rev. Dr. Stephen Chapin Garner as the church’s 19th Senior Minister. Rev. Dr. Garner will begin his pastorate as Senior Minister in September.
Chapin preached a sermon, “Leader of Leaders” at the 9:30 a.m. service of worship that morning, during which he discussed his excitement to see where God will lead our Church. “I have come to the firm belief that we are indeed well matched, and that we’ve not only been called together, but I actually think that somehow, wondrously, the Holy Spirit has been preparing us for each other. And I firmly believe that our future ministry together is filled – absolutely filled – with boundless opportunities,” he said.
Immediately after the service a Special Meeting of the Congregation was convened, and members voted to affirm the nomination of Rev. Dr. Garner and call him as the next Senior Minister of The Congregational Church of New Canaan.
Chapin will come to us from United Church of Christ Norwell in Norwell, Massachusetts, where he has been Senior Minister for 14 years. A graduate of Gettysburg College (B.A., Religious Expression, 1992), Boston University School of Theology (M.Div. cum laude, Theology and Drama, 1997), and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min, Preaching, 2006); Rev. Dr. Garner has 18 years of ministerial experience. He is the author of several publications, including his most recent works, Scattering Seeds: Cultivating Church Vitality, 2011; and As The Spirit Moves, 2013.
Chapin understands relationships to be the foundation for effective pastoring, and his preaching and teaching excellence builds on this same foundation. Garner is a compelling preacher – he treats preaching as both a science and an art. His background and interest in drama help him bring Scripture alive in a compelling way.
Chapin and his wife, Tammie, have been married for 23 years and are the parents of Sam, 15, and Emma, 14. The Garners are looking forward to moving to New Canaan and becoming a part of the community here.
The call is the culmination of nearly two years of work by the members of the Senior Minister Search Committee: Eileen Thomas, chair; Barb Clayton, vice-chair; Joellen Ford, Margery Gardner, Tony Kiniry, Harry Rein, Mark Tedford, and Tom Woodard; all active members of The Congregational Church of New Canaan.
In describing the choice of Rev. Dr. Garner, search committee chair Eileen Thomas said, “Chapin has a wisdom and humility about him that stems from his unwavering trust in God’s will for his life and his leadership. He has the faith and the courage to listen for and act on God’s call. He ends every conversation by asking what concerns he can hold in prayer for you.”
Committee member Harry Rein added, “As we got to know Chapin and his family, we came to believe that he will be a spiritual leader, a pastor and a peer – and we believe the whole family will be very comfortable making New Canaan its home.”