WALLINGFORD — After 25 years of service, a local minister is set to retire at the end of the month.
The Rev. Margaret Jay, pastor and minister of outreach and program development at First Congregational Church, has baptized children, married couples, conducted funerals and organized many charity fundraising events during her time at the South Main Street church.
“It’s a great church to serve and to have been able to take great ideas that people have, or visions that people have,” Jay said. “My role has been one of being able to support, encourage...to make sure that things come together.”
She first started working in the ministry in the mid 1980's. After graduating from Yale Divinity School in 1989, Jay was ordained the following year and joined First Congregational Church as the minister of outreach and program development.
A breast cancer survivor, Jay founded and organized the Family Life Golf Tournament to raise money for breast cancer research. She has also been part of the Bawa Health Initiative, which brings health and other supplies to the Bawa village in Cameroon, Africa.
Jessie DePonte, acting church school coordinator, has known Jay for more than 20 years. Jay baptized her and her children and has been the “foundation of the church” for some time, she said.
“She is a kind person. One of the best listeners I have ever met,” DePonte said. “It’s going to be really weird not to see her...She built really good relationships.”
David Wells, third term deacon, has known Jay for the past 15 years.
“She’s been the lifeblood of the church,” Wells said. “That’s going to be missed.”
Jay said working for the church has been the “great joy” of her life.
“There’s been a rhythm to my life these past 25 years,” she said. “In many ways it has revolved around the seasons and seasonal activities of this church. It has revolved around the people I have come to know and cherish here. I will need to develop some new rhythms. While I look forward to that, I also know that it’s bittersweet because there are things that I will most definitely miss.”
Jay will continue to live in the state for a few years and then move to Maine to be closer to her grandchildren, she said.