WALLINGFORD — First United Methodist Church has a new, 27-year-old pastor who wants to revitalize the church.
“I want us to be a healthy, growing congregation,” said the Rev. Jacob Eun.
Eun began performing Sunday services at the church, 941 Old Rock Hill Road, on July 1.
Longtime member Kagee Hubbard said Eun doesn’t just lecture, but asks the congregants to participate.
“He makes you think,” Hubbard said. “He asks a question and expects some participation. ‘What do you think,’ and ‘what do you think the Bible thinks.’”
She added that Eun prefers to stand in the center of the group, “so he can see everybody and include everybody.”
“We’re just thrilled to have him,” she said.
Eun is Korean American. He immigrated to United States as a youth, an experience, he said, that gave him the communication skills he uses in his ministerial work.
“I was exposed to two different cultures and two different languages,” he said, “so I kind of played the bridge role within my community.”
When he was 12, his family moved from South Korea to Fairfield. His parents now live on Long Island, and his brother runs a business in Seoul, the South Korean capital.
He attended high school in Easton and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he studied history and psychology.
“I wanted to pursue something greater than myself,” he said about why he became a pastor.
He earned his master of divinity degree from Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey and his master of theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Before coming to Wallingford, he served as a pastor in Gaylordsville for about a year. He was a youth pastor in Long Island for several years.
As First United Methodist’s only pastor, he provides spiritual care to the congregation, finds and meets the needs of the community and leads Sunday services.
He said he wants to reach out to different communities with the goal of “bringing back the life to the church.”
Sunday services at First United Methodist draw 40 to 50 congregants during the summer, he said, and 70 in the winter months.
“Me being young is a gift itself,” he said. “Maybe I’ll draw some students and host some events.”
In his spare time, Eun enjoys reading books and visiting art museums.
First United Methodist was organized in 1895, and the original building, consecrated in 1897, stood on the corner of Church and Main streets.
The current building was consecrated in 1963.