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Carnation church hires new pastor

His first sermon in the Valley was a lesson from the tale of Jonah and the whale about how reluctance and fear can keep a person from hearing God's call.

The Rev. Stephen Haddan preached for the first time at the Tolt Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) as the church's new pastor July 23.

Haddan said he came to his new assignment guided by the Spirit, and is looking forward to the challenges and joys of a small congregation.

"I'm attracted to the smaller church and the congregation's deep belief in inclusivity," Haddan said.

The church has a long history of being a progressive voice for Christianity, something very much in need today that he wanted to be a part of, Haddan said.

Haddan, previously of First Congregational UCC in Salem, Ore., was chosen following an 18-month search process.

Congregations in the UCC are autonomous and search for and hire their own ministers; typically allowing a one- to two-year process for the transition, search and call. The Rev. Greta Jensen, transitional pastor, served the Carnation church during the interim.

Barbara Ballard, chair of the Pastoral Search Committee, said Haddan was selected as top candidate because of his excellent preaching and worship leadership abilities, his skill and experience in helping a church grow and his passion for working with youth and young adults, among many other qualities.

At a recent weekend visit, during which Haddan met the congregation and led worship, church members described him as having warmth, caring, sensitivity, faith and a sense of humor. He also shared his personal interests in horticulture - his first career was in the floral business - and in music and singing.

Haddan told church members that he looks forward to using and expanding his skills in ministry, and is pleased to be moving to a less urban community

At his previous assignment, Haddan was an associate pastor for a much larger, urban congregation. He said he is looking forward to revisiting his roots, having grown up in smaller communities.

He admires the congregation's strong lay leadership, its history as a progressive church and its work in social justice and mission. He also spoke of the importance of exploring a variety of ways of welcoming everyone to a place of belonging in the church.

The community is invited to visit the church at 4851 Tolt Ave. (state Route 203) and meet Haddan beginning Sunday, July 23. Summer worship services are held at 10 a.m. on Sundays through Labor Day. A special service of Installation will be held at a later date in the fall.

To contact the church, call (425) 333-4254, e-mail toltucc@earthlink.net or go to www.toltucc.org.

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