Milford church has new leader

MILFORD – Among Protestant churches there is a generally accepted rule that interim pastors should not be candidates for the permanent rector position.

There are a number of good reasons for the rule, and interim pastors accept their positions knowing they are never going to be candidates.

But sometimes rules should be broken, and that’s what happened at Milford’s Church of Our Saviour.

Last fall the church called its interim pastor for the past three years, the Rev. Hays (Hank) Junkin, to serve as permanent full-time rector of the Episcopal parish. Father Hank as he is called, he has been the church’s interim pastor since 2013 when he took over for The Rev. David “Chip” Robinson.

For the past 18 month a church committee has been conducting a nationwide search for a new pastor, interviewing “candidates from all over the place,” said Elizabeth Rotch, co-chairman of the eight-person search team.

They did Sype video chat interviews or traveled to candidate’s home parishes. Or they invited candidates here.

“We decided we were not going to settle if we didn’t have the right one,” Rotch said.

And none seemed exactly right for the Milford parish. So after 14 months of searching, the committee sat down with the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the Right Revered A. Robert Hirschfeld, and explained their quandary.

Much to their surprise, Bishop Hirschfeld asked them that if Father Hank were willing, would the committee consider him as a candidate for a permanent rector?

“Can we do that?” was the response of Paul Murphy, the search team co-chairman. But the searchers realized that if the bishop thought the idea had merit, why not?

So they interviewed Father Hank, twice, for the position and made their decision.

“We are very happy with that outcome,” Rotch said.

One of qualities the parishioners wanted in a new pastor was a talent for outreach, and Father Hanks fills the bill.

He is already on the board of Share Outreach, the community charity organization, and he keeps his focus on the future. “He keeps pushing – he says ‘Where are you going and how are you going to get there?” Rotch said.

On Wednesday, Jan. 21, the parish will join with Bishop Hirschfeld, along with clergy from throughout the diocese, other local clergy and community leaders to celebrate their new ministry together.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Amherst Street church building.

“It marks an important milestone in the life of the local parish, said Murphy in an email. “It recognizes not only the calling of Fr. Hank, but of the parish’s commitment to continuing the shared work of Christ through both its ordained and lay members. He believes pastoral care is the heartbeat of parish life and brings more than 36 years of experience in parish ministry to his new role.”

Father Hank is married to the Rev. Sarah Rockwell, rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Londonderry.

The Church of Our Saviour is an Episcopal parish open to those seeking a spiritual home or just exploring the life of faith. The church is located at the intersection of Amherst and Grove streets just outside of the Milford Oval, across from the post office.

For more information call 673-3309, email
office@coosmilford.org, or visit online at www.
facebook.com/coosmilford
or www.coosmilford.org

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, or
kcleveland@cabinet.com.