The Reverend Susan Dee Reisinger has been hired by the Session to serve as interim pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Haven, beginning on Sunday, September 20. As interim pastor, Susan will have two main sets of responsibilities. The first is the familiar ministry of the Presbyterian pastor: Susan will lead worship, celebrate the sacraments, moderate the Session, lead the staff, and provide pastoral care. The second is particular to interim ministry: Susan will help prepare the congregation for the future, challenging us to reflect on our past, think deeply about our current needs, and, God-willing, see visions and dream dreams as we search for a new pastor.
“Much of my professional life has been dedicated to interim ministry,” says Susan. “The threshold between what has been and what might be can be a rich time. This richness lies in saying goodbye to some of what was, and beginning the process of welcoming what is to come. For me it is a great privilege to walk with a congregation during such a pivotal time. I am looking forward to partnering with First Presbyterian Church for the next part of this journey.”
Susan has extensive experience as an interim pastor. She has served eleven congregations in an interim role—some with 100 or 200 members, some with 1000s, in small towns, in college towns, in suburban and rural and urban settings—most recently the Presbyterian Church at Hammonton, New Jersey. A philosophy graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, she attended Princeton Seminary and was ordained in 1979. She received a further master’s degree from the Seminary, in pastoral care, in 1988.
“We conducted a wide-ranging search,” says Andrew Forsyth, chair of the Session’s interim pastor nominating committee. “Scott Funston, Elizabeth Gill, Candice Gray, David Miller, and John Sandel have spent their summer months reading applications, meeting together, and thinking about First Presbyterian Church’s needs and opportunities. We had nearly thirty applications, and interviewed five. Several of the applications were very strong, but Susan stood out because of her commitment to interim ministry, her desire to work in a diverse and welcoming congregation like our own, her warm personality, and her passion for worship, preaching, and pastoral care.”
The Reverend John Sandel, who has served as the interim interim over the summer, adds “Susan impressed us with her sure grasp of the nature of interim ministry, her embrace of the progressive character of our congregation, and the grounding of her ministry in spiritual practice and discipline. Her references were uniform in praising her pastoral skills and her gifts for interim ministry.”
This is an important and exciting time for First Presbyterian Church. Come to adult education at 9:30 am on Sunday, September 20 to welcome and learn more about Susan.