BERLIN — After more than a decade of leadership marked by the creation of new programs, the pastor of Kensington Congregational Church has announced her retirement.
“After 40 years in ministry this is the time we’ve decided to move on,” said the Rev. Olivia Robinson, who came to the church 11 years ago. While the parish’s energy and commitment to outreach made it the right place for her, she said the time is right to move back to Branford to spend more time with her husband, Peter Robinson, and their seven grandchildren.
During her time in Kensington, Robinson, 66, said the congregation has grown more vibrant with the introduction of the Festival on the Hill, Night in Bethlehem and celebration of its 300th anniversary. Robinson also expanded the church’s outreach programs, such as the Family Promise Program, which gives shelter to the homeless.
She said the church strives to do the work Jesus would have done if he were here.
“I believe we have to be Christ’s body in the world,” Robinson said. “We’re doing God’s work in the community.”
Members of the church’s leadership will select an interim pastor after she gives her final sermon on All Saints’ Sunday, which falls on Nov. 4. She estimated the process of finding a permanent pastor takes an average of one to two years.
She’s confident that whoever they choose, the church will continue to grow, both in numbers and through an ongoing building expansion. “I will miss them and I just hope their new leader is able to continue the good momentum that this church has made,” she said. “… they’re a growing and vital church.”
“It’s really an exciting time in our church right now,” said Director of Faith Formation Gwen McCann. “At a time when a lot of churches are shrinking or closing their doors, we’re blessed to be able to do this.”
McCann said Robinson’s programs benefit those the church serves and have also strengthened the congregation and helped individuals come closer with their faith.
“I feel like it makes people feel like they’re able to give back. They come to church to be (spiritually) fed, but in turn they want to give back to the church community,” McCann said.
“It’s been a great experience for both of us to work together and collaborate,” McCann said, reflecting that they both came to the church 11 years ago. “It’s just been nothing but wonderful.”
Robinson said it’s the people she’s gotten to know that she’ll miss after she leaves.
“I think I’ll miss the personal friends and the joy that the congregation has together,” she said. “It’s a very vibrant and a loving church.”