ENFIELD – Hazardville United Methodist Church has welcomed its new pastor, Rev. Lisa McColgan.
A native of South Glens Falls, New York, McColgan has spent the last 31 years in Dalton, New York, in the Berkshires, as a layperson for the local United Methodist Church after earning her Masters of Divinity degree from Boston University Seminary in New York York had completed in 2021.
“My parents were from the Deerfield Valley in Massachusetts,” McColgan said. “My father was a civil engineer and initially worked for Boeing in Seattle. We moved to Washington, and when the 747 was complete, we returned east. He found a job in Glens Falls, New York.”
There’s a small family legacy for McColgan becoming a pastor.
“My great-grandparents were missionaries in China and met each other on the mission field,” she said. “Grandfather served in Northfield as a minister and deacon, Samuel Chapin, who helped found Springfield, was also one of my ancestors. So in my heritage there was ministry.”
After high school, McColgan studied landscape design and development, earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“I had a small design garden shop,” she said.
After marrying her husband Patrick in 1992, they had their first child in 1996.
“I closed my business so I could be a full-time home parent and then went homeschooling and serving the church in Dalton,” she said.
At that time, she said, service became her next professional passion.
“It wasn’t just about discovering the gifts and graces for pastoral work, both speaking and preaching,” she said. “One of the certifications for lay ministry was pastoral ministry. I have worked in prayer ministry and also in ecumenism for many years.”
McColgan said her internal confirmation of becoming a pastor came after her children grew old enough not to need constant supervision.
She became more involved in church leadership.
“I was energetic in pastoral ministry and scripture study, assembling services and conducting retreats,” she said. “I used to hold and design and deliver an annual prayer retreat for the prayer teams. It was a lot of work. I paid attention to what had affirmations from people and from within.
However, becoming a pastor was not an immediate act, it was a journey for McColgan.
“I wasn’t quite ready when one of the pastors gave me the ministry discernment book to go through this process, but they saw it in me,” she said. “I held on to it until the time was right.
“I think I resisted in some places,” she said. “I don’t know if I can make an either/or. I have dedicated myself first and foremost to the needs of my children. Back then, I was the kind of person who just did one project at a time.”
McColgan’s first day at Hazardville United Methodist Church was June 30 and described the congregation as an amazing group of people.
“They really interact as a family and have each other’s backs, keep an eye on each other,” she said, adding that she’s impressed by her community involvement with organizations like the Boy Scouts, Here We Grow Daycare and Alcoholics Anonymous and Tried to expand community participation.
“We have many exciting plans beginning in September to restart not only prayer meetings and Bible studies, but also youth activities, game nights, board game nights, hikes and campfires,” she said. “We can celebrate youth and celebrate Boy Scouts and celebrate our partnership together.”
McColgan also has a strong connection to art. Some of her own paintings adorn her office at the church, and she said she would like to connect with the artistic community at church.
“Art is cathartic and it’s a way of giving empowerment and expression in places that aren’t always available to people,” she said. “I don’t know yet how this will develop. There are very creative people in this community, including in the performing arts. We are excitedly planning a possible production for Holy Week. We have a new choirmaster/music director who is also from Dalton. She has written a production called Pilgrimage of Hope and we hope to be able to open it.
“I truly believe that we have all been gifted and that if someone doesn’t bring their gift, we all suffer,” she said. “I will see that this gift is cherished, cared for and brought forth.”
Esta Clarke, a member of the United Methodist Church in Hazardville, said McColgan is a good choice for the community.
“We are very encouraged by their enthusiasm and their new ideas and their arrangements for us,” Clarke said. “We are a visionary church. She really has high hopes for change. We’re really excited.”
“I’m happy and grateful to be here,” McColgan said. “This is a really good group of people and it’s been a blessing on many levels so far.”