Admiral Congregational Church is formally introducing its new pastor, who is already leading worship services there, though his ordination is set for just after New Year’s and his formal installation in the spring. Here’s the announcement the church is sharing with the community:
The oldest church in West Seattle has recently called Andrew Conley-Holcom as its new pastor. Admiral Congregational United Church of Christ, located in North Admiral, was founded in 1899 as the West Seattle Congregational Church. Pastor Andrew, in his early thirties and a recent graduate of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, is the youngest pastor that Admiral has ever called.
The congregation voted to accept its Search Committee’s unanimous recommendation to call Andrew in mid-October, and he has been leading worship services since October 19th. He will be ordained on January 3, 2015 at his home church, First Congregational Church of Bellingham, and will be formally installed as Admiral’s pastor in the spring.
Andrew and his wife, Leann (church-provided photo, above right), are originally from the Tacoma area and currently reside in the Ravenna neighborhood. Leann is active as a professional singer, directs the Concert Choir of the Tacoma Youth Chorus, and is a doctoral candidate in choral conducting at the University of Washington.
Peggy Rich, who chaired the Search Committee that selected Andrew from among nearly 50 potential candidates, reports, “Our search for a new pastor took us ten months. We were looking for the person who could help Admiral Church reach out and connect with individuals, couples, and young families in the West Seattle Community who shared our interest in promoting the qualities of peace and justice. We found someone who happens to be young and energetic, who is very focused on relationships and people. We feel that he is the perfect pastor for Admiral Church at this time. We are excited to welcome him into our church family and, of course, would also welcome everyone who enters our doors.”
Dennis Smedsrud, the lay leader of the congregation, was equally impressed with Andrew’s credentials and sees this as an exciting time for Admiral Church. “His spirit and exuberance are infectious and I think church members are very pleased to have him here, and see it as a beginning of a new chapter in Admiral’s spiritual journey”.
When Andrew arrived at Admiral Church, he was delighted to find such a joyful congregation. Speaking at the annual Admiral Sings Christmas, he exclaimed, “I had no idea what I was getting into here in West Seattle. I feel so blessed to be in a congregation with this kind of vitality.”
Andrew is enjoying getting to know members of the congregation, and is excited about the future of Admiral Church; he hopes to further integrate the church with the local community. In his second week he organized a Trunk-or-Treat in Admiral’s parking lot for Halloween, playing games and giving out candy to over 90 kids. He is part of the Westside Interfaith Network and is actively seeking partnerships with other churches and organizations in our community to build robust programs for social justice and inclusive ministry in West Seattle and beyond.
Admiral UCC’s previous pastor, Rev. Donald Schmidt, left a year ago to work with the denomination’s Hawai’i COnference.