Martha Mitchell, new pastor at the Lyndonville Presbyterian Church, stands at the altar, which has been prepared for the church’s LaLaPoolaza Community Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. Saturday.
LYNDONVILLE – Retirement has afforded Martha Mitchell to follow a career path which has been a long-time dream – to become a pastor.
“The opportunity to serve here in Lyndonville and follow my second career is a real blessing,” said Mitchell, who has been called as pastor of the Lyndonville Presbyterian Church. “This is a calling I’ve had since I was young.”
Mitchell began her duties at the Lyndonville church Oct. 9, after the death of the Rev. Catherine Benjamin.
Mitchell grew up in Albion, where she was a member of the First Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Tom Gardner, pastor of the Holley Presbyterian Church, also grew up there with her.
After high school, she attended college and became a teacher at Albion High School, where the Rev. Sue Thaine, now moderator of the Presbytery of Genesee Valley and pastor at the Albion First Presbyterian Church, was a student of hers.
“We are a faith family, and after all these years it is wonderful to have the opportunity to do ministry together,” Mitchell said. “It’s a coming home.”
After retiring as a teacher, Mitchell attended Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. She did two internships, one in Batavia with the Rev. Roula Alkhari and the second with the Rev. Benjamin in Lyndonville.
She was preaching in Stone Church Presbyterian Church in Bergen when she got the call to come to Lyndonville.
Having done the six-month internship with the Rev. Benjamin, Mitchell said the people already knew her.
“They have been very welcoming,” she said. “I am very fortunate to step into such a vibrant ministry.”
The Lyndonville Presbyterian Church houses the Foodlink Food Pantry, which is run by the Lyndonville-Yates Ministerial Association. All the churches in the area collect food for the pantry, which will provide baskets of food and gifts for 80 families this Christmas. The Presbyterian church buys the turkeys.
“This church makes such a big difference in the community,” Mitchell said.
The first Saturday of every month, the church puts on a community breakfast, starting at 8 a.m.
She said it is her goal to grow the church, but with purpose.
“We will listen to how the Holy Spirit leads us forward,” the pastor said. “We want to be a welcoming, safe place for all people to worship.”
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