The members at First Christian Church in Middletown better not get used to seeing their new pastor in her office.
The Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, who was hired last month after the church was without a permanent pastor for two years, thinks her most important work should be done outside the walls of the church.
“The church’s responsibility is to serve our community,” Siegman said. “My belief is that Christ’s ministry was to the people. He reached out to those who were least, last and lost.”
So Siegman hopes to take that message to the streets and to those in the most need. She’s renting an apartment at Trinity Place in downtown, and plans to meet with other religious leaders to see what ministerial services are needed in the community.
“I tend to be more out in the community than the office,” said Siegman, who believes that’s one reason she was hired.
About 25 percent of her job is the writing and delivering of her Sunday sermon, she said. The rest is as an outreach minister, she said.
Siegman, 40, calls herself “permission giver and cheerleader” because in her role, she encourages her congregation, then celebrates in its successes.
She described the congregation as “very welcoming people” who are very excited about their future.
“First Christian Church’s vision statement says they seek to welcome all people,” she said. “As I look around the sanctuary, I see such diversity and think they are truly living into their vision of being a welcoming community of faith.”
Siegman began her service on May 1. and was installed by the congregation on May 7 with the Rev. Stephen Bentley, from the Christian Church in Ohio, presiding.
A native of Portage County, Ohio, Siegman has served a church in Illinois for the past seven years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Walsh University and a master’s of divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky.
Siegman replaced the Rev. Laureen Roe, who left in 2015 after serving the church for about 15 years. Since then, the church, with a membership of about 100, has been served by interim pastors, pulpit guests and elders.
Larry Steele, president of the church, 4520 Rosedale Road, said the hiring of Siegman gives the church “stability.”
He compared losing a pastor to the death of a close friend.
“There is a grieving process,” he said. “You develop a relationship and when they’re gone, there is a void.”