Every once in a while there’s a new face in town, and Rev. Mark Ferrier of St. Paul’s United Church is one of them.
The minister moved to Tillsonburg in early March and accepted the position after it was left vacant by retiring minister Glenn Baker.
Ferrier served two congregations in Mount Forest, Ontario in the northern part of Wellington County before moving south.
“I think where I had been previously, I served there for eight and a half years and there came a realization of the work that I was able to do at Mount Forest was coming to an end and that for my own renewal and for the congregation there, they needed new leadership to walk forward with them.
“A friend suggested I look at St. Paul’s and consider it as a place I might want to serve.”
Here in Tillsonburg for three months now, settled in and acquainted with the community and St. Paul’s congregation, Rev. Ferrier noted how welcomed he has felt since his arrival.
“I like Tillsonburg, it’s a friendly town. One of the things I’ve noticed from places I’ve served previously is when you go into a business in town people are really friendly, talkative and helpful which is very, very nice.”
In addition to the town, members at St. Paul’s United Church have also greeted their new minister with open arms and an open mind.
“The congregation has been very supportive and welcoming, I think they’ve taken to the ‘new guy.’ I’m a different personality than their previous minister and a lot of people said it’s a welcomed change,” Ferrier added, noting that as in most cases, filling a new role can require an adjustment period for both himself and his new parishioners. “For others it takes a little longer to get on board, but certainly they’ve appreciated the difference.”
In bringing that difference and new perspective to St. Paul’s, Rev. Ferrier said he hopes to fulfill his anticipated role and perhaps the expectations and hopes of members of St. Paul’s United Church.
“What they asked for, I think in some ways is what they’ve got,” he said. “They wanted a minister who would show interest in the work and activities of the church and provide support and encouragement to people, to come out, be present and show that you care. I think also to be an encouragement and supporter of the different committees and people working within the life of the church so that they’re not feeling as if they’re out on their own at times.
“And I think a much more visible presence within the community and within the congregation – to get out, to visit, and to meet people in Tillsonburg and around town.”
He brings a gregarious and outgoing approach to preaching and sharing God’s word.
“I tend to be more of an extrovert and I think that’s something that they’ve appreciated,” he added.
Ferrier brings over 25 years of experience to his new role as minister at St. Paul’s United, and looks forward to getting to know more about the community and his congregation.
“We tend to be a church that people would say is more engaged with the world, dealing with things in a different way,” said Rev. Ferrier. “There are always issues and challenges around that because there’s diversity of opinion.
“People have many choices for churches in Tillsonburg so we need to offer them a choice that speaks to that segment of people who are looking for a church like the Untied Church of Canada, that engages with the world, cares about its community and welcomes everyone.”