Rev. Gallagher begins with a story about interviewing at Tolland. He was serving in Kittery Point, Maine at the time, and despite living his whole life in New England, he had not spent any time in Connecticut.
"It was a state I drove through," he said.
After the interview, his views about Connecticut had shifted. He called his wife and said, "Remember what we said about not moving to Connecticut? We might want to rethink that."
One of the first challenges Rev. Gallagher experienced after moving to Tolland was helping the church navigate the process of discerning and voting to become Open and Affirming. He shared that he had gone through this process in Maine and was not looking to repeat that any time soon. But he was drawn to the people of Tolland and their intentional search for a pastor who would engage in the community. This was something that resonated with him.
When Rev. Goodwin asked about exciting ministries in Tolland, Rev. Gallagher said the church was exploring ways to address mental health issues. Tolland experienced a number of suicides in a very short period a few years ago, including those of some teens. The church recognized that the community needed some assistance in responding to the deaths, and to addressing mental health issues in general. Now, the church has a group of people discussion and discerning how they are called to help their community with this ever-present concern.
Rev. Goodwin shared some resources that are available to churches seeking to address the same issues. These can be found at the United church of Christ Mental Health Network website.
"My prayer is that churches listening to you talk today will be inspired,"" said Rev. Goodwin, "that we'll be conscious that what's going to also come with [the end of the pandemic] is people really struggling with mental health concerns."
Those interested in Tolland's worship, and hearing Rev. Goodwin speak in that service, can go to the church's website to view the service. In addition to a recorded service, the church hosts a watch party on Sunday morning's at 10am. Just click the "Sunday Services" Box and then click the large "Sunday Watch Party Click Here" button to join with others live. Following a viewing of the service, the watch party includes a virtual coffee hour. Rev. Goodwin will be available during the May 23 watch party.
Watch the full interview below:
Drew Page is the Media and Data Manager for the Southern New England Conference, and a member of the Conference's Communications Team. He writes and edits news, blogs, and devotionals, produces video, and spends a week each summer as a Dean at Silver...