Parishioners at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, welcomed a new pastor earlier this month, and the warmth of that welcome has brought joy to Pastor Rheanna Goodrich and her family as they settle in to their new home in Marlborough. “The call has been amazing so far,” says Pr Rheanna. “The congregation has been so welcoming to our family, and super supportive.”
At St. Stephen, the new pastor is “looking forward to getting to know everybody here, working with people to figure out what comes next.” Her focus is both the church and the Marlborough-Hudson community. She notes that “a lot of people don’t know Jesus, a loving, benevolent God. There is so much pain and brokenness.” The call of the church, she says “is to help heal.”
Pr Rheanna comes to SSLC from Michigan, where she has spent the major portion of her life, but New England is also in her background. Born in Montana, she lived with her parents and sister in New Hampshire from age 2 to Grade 4, and has fond memories of outdoor activities. “We ran around in the woods all the time and loved playing outside.”
Her family attended Baptist and Episcopal churches, but she came back to her Lutheran roots in Michigan during her high school years. Her faith was important, but Pr. Rheanna didn’t realize then that it would become her vocation and went on to earn a BS in English with a focus in Creative Writing at Central Michigan University. After graduation, “I quickly realized I needed a job and went into business,” she recalls of her time spent managing apartment complexes. “Then God got involved.”
Active in her congregation leading programs, and serving as council president, the thought of becoming a pastor emerged, but she was unsure “whether I wanted to take on the responsibility in my 20s.” She was now married - she and Mara will mark their 21st anniversary this summer. Talking with Mara and her pastor, eventually “there were enough signs that I couldn’t ignore it. This was in my heart.”
She enrolled in the five year program at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and daughter Kaili, now 12, was born during this time. Pr Rheanna accepted a first call to a church in Au Gres, MI, “a lovely, rural community experience,” and a second call to Bridgeport, MI, closer to Mara’s work.
Accepting her third call meant a move to Massachusetts for the family of three and four cats. “It is fabulous to be back in a place of diverse culture, people, language, and food,” she says. The family likes the outdoors, especially hiking, biking, and camping. Pr Rheanna also enjoys creative writing, including science fiction as well as poetry. Among many new and old adventures, she would love to try snowshoeing again, take Kaili to Hampton Beach, to experience it as she had as a child, and all three would like to explore Salem, and the history of a very distinct era.
“We were looking for a new adventure,” Pr. Rheanna says with a smile, adding that “New England is a homecoming for me and had everything we were looking for.”
For more information about the church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) . The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Stow, and Bolton. Sunday worship is at 10 am, with Sunday School at 9.