Pastor Rich JM Gelson
Dear Pilgrim Family, Friends, and Neighbors,
I could offer just a few bullet points about me. But life is story. And our stories are chapters in the Greatest Story Ever Told, of Jesus' love. Hoping to have a conversation with you some day, here are a few words about my story ...
I'm 47 years old, enjoy the many responsibilities and relationships of ministry, and love spending time with my wife, Rev. Stefanie Muntzel, and our blended family of one college student, two teens, a Lab-Boxer rescue dog, and our rescue cat.
Growing up, I spent family time in both Summit, NJ and Northeast Philadelphia (I happen to be a huge Phillies fan). I was an average student through high school and then bloomed as an undergraduate studying Sociology at William Paterson University and then as a graduate student as Princeton Theological Seminary. This said, I'm not so much an "academic" as I am an ambassador of Christ who serves with heart and mind.
In 1998, I was ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the PC(USA).
An important part of my story is that I wasn't raised going to church. Yet I was definitely spiritual if not religious. I did watch and found myself fascinated by the 1970's TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth. Having always been musical, my "inner rock star" also absorbed and enjoyed everything when I saw a live production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar when I was in high school. My sense of God calling me to Christian ministry more truly began in teen support groups, through music, and then fully kicked in as I worked through college summers as a counselor at Camp Johnsonburg. It's been a process, a pilgrimage!
Today, I am glad to explain that I am both spiritual (especially quite time with a digital camera when out in nature and while songwriting) and religious (being part of an intentional, relevant, tradition rooted faith community).
The Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, has been a great inspiration to me for many years. I'm always glad to have conversation about what it continues to mean to me.
Do you have a favorite or very formative verse or passage from Scripture?
I'm an adaptive leader and a bridge-builder. One bridge I'm happy to be helping build is as one of Phillipsburg's first commissioned Police Chaplains.
I focus on discipleship more than membership ...
Disciples are constantly gathering to learn from and about Jesus.
Disciples honestly question, find fresh inspiration and are committed to growing in faith.
Disciples know that all this gathering and growing is for the purpose of going out into the greater community and the whole world to love God with all our heart, mind and soul while loving our neighbors as we ourselves hope to be loved.
I look forward to hearing your story and to worshiping with you at Pilgrim!
Courage and Serenity in Christ,