Friday, March 6, 2009
New Pastor to serve at Carlisle Congregational Church
As I waited in the foyer of the Carlisle Congregational Church for my interview with Pastor Steven James Weibley, I had the opportunity to listen in on a rehearsal of Masters Glee, a choral
group that Weibley directs for a group of home-schooled students and others in grades 7 through 12. They were practicing “O Magnify the Lord with Me,” a lovely choral piece from the 1800s. “We perform a concert once a year in the spring, featuring music in the Judeo-Christian tradition, some a cappella, and other more difficult pieces. I want them to be stretched,” Weibley explained.
This is the same choral director who has served the church for 23 years, who became Associate Pastor in 1992, and was installed as Pastor on February 22, 2009 in a special evening installation and celebration service. He takes over from the retiring Keith Greer, who has served as pastor for 34 years and who, Weibley believes, set the example for what the ministry should be.
Weibley will serve as Pastor to this church, which has approximately 150 members, of whom 27 are from Carlisle. The rest are from Lowell, Chelmsford, Concord, Bedford, Acton and Groton. In the spirit of one of his favorite Biblical quotations, “Be shepherds of God’s flock, which is under your care” (1Peter 5:4), Weibley will continue to direct the adult choir, preach on Sundays and conduct visitations to hospitals and homes.
Weibley grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education. This took him on to the position of Music Director in the School District of Lancaster. In 1986 he enrolled in the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts and, during that first year of divinity school, he was hired to be the choir director at the Carlisle Congregational Church. With a Masters of Divinity (magna cum laude) from Gordon-Conwell and his work as choir director at the Carlisle church, it was not long before he became Associate Pastor.
Speaking of his musical experience at the church, I learn of the songs that he has composed to be sung at the worship service and the plays and musicals he has written for children. “Providing them with a theatre experience,” explained Weibley, “shows them how to present themselves and gives them a place to grow.” His experience at summer camps for children, including New England Camp Cedarbrook, where he has been board chairman, has provided him with many ways of seeing to the needs of the children in his congregation. At the church sleepovers, which were begun years ago with Nancy Babine, as many as 70 children, kindergarten through fifth grade, have spent the evenings listening to Bible stories, memorizing Bible passages and playing games.
Besides the choir, Weibley has been pleased to be involved with a group of “gifted musicians,” an instrumental group of parishioners, including three French horns, that he has worked into the church service from time to time. He fondly reminisces about his musical experience working with the late Walter Woodward of Carlisle, at the church and playing the clarinet with Woodward’s group of Carlisle musicians, on the Town Green on Christmas Eve, and with the Carlisle Cats on the Fourth of July.
Weibley lives with his wife Deborah at the church parsonage on Hart Pond, often called Baptist Pond, in South Chelmsford. They have a son, Joshua Caleb, who is a senior and art major at The Cooper Union in New York City. Weibley looks forward to serving his church, as well as having more of an opportunity to serve the community of Carlisle. He will accomplish this later in the month when the Congregational Church hosts The Three Church Potluck Supper and Sing-along, on Friday, March 28, at 6:30 p.m., in Fellowship Hall. This will also give more Carlisleans an opportunity to meet the new Pastor of the Carlisle Congregational Church.
The Town Three Church Potluck Supper and Sing-along
Friday, March 28
at 6:30 p.m.
In the Fellowship Hall
© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito