Westport United Methodist Church has bid farewell to one pastor and is in the process of welcoming her successor.
Pastor Bob (Song Bok) Jon has been appointed to Westport Point United Methodist Church by Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, resident bishop of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church. He succeeds Pastor Katherine Mitchell who served in Westport for seven years.
Pastor Jon moved to town and into the church parsonage last week with his wife Sue (Sung Ha) Kim — they are expecting their first baby in August.
He comes to Westport after serving as lead pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, NH.
Although he had grown attached to that community, he said he is excited by his new mission.
“The people I have met here so far have been very welcoming,” he said Friday.
He said that he is glad to be serving in a seaside town.
“The town where I grew up in Korea was also on the ocean so I feel right at home already,” he said, adding that he looks forward to trying out the local fishing.
Pastor Jon grew up in a Methodist pastor’s family in Korea and came to Boston to study theology in 2004. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University. In previous years, he served Belmont UMC as associate pastor (2008-2010) before taking the post in Portsmouth, NH, where he also served as chaplain for the town’s police station.
A sports enthusiast, he said he expects his ministry will give him the chance to play some basketball, soccer and baseball with youth here. He described himself as a huge fan of the Celtics, although he’s concerned about the recent loss of the team’s coach and two biggest stars — “I’m not happy about that at all.”
He also loves music, especially gospel jazz and blues, and plays the piano, guitar, and saxophone.
Pastor Jon said he looks forward to meeting as many people as possible in Westport, including those who aren’t churchgoers. He welcomes one and all to stoop by anytime “to share coffee and stories.”
Pastor Mitchell is taking a new assignment to serve as pastor of Shepherd of the Valley United Methodist Church in Hope, RI, after serving seven years as pastor in Westport.
“I have loved my time in Westport and am definitely grieving to be done here,” she said Friday. At the same time, she said she is excited by her new appointment and the challenge of her new job at a bigger church.
The bishop needed to fill a position at the Hope church so she got the call, Pastor Mitchell said. “That’s how it works.”
She said she is also glad to see the appointment of Pastor Jon, a man she has known since they were at seminary together.
“He is young, energetic, athletic — perfect for Westport,” she said.
Her time in Westport has been a happy one, she said, marked by strong growth at Westport Point United Methodist Church. She said membership is up threefold to around 250 and that she is especially heartened by participation of youngsters — Sunday school enrollment has grown from around four children to 30 over her time there.
“We have also started a youth center,” she added.
While in Westport, Pastor Mitchell said she came to feel connected not only to her church but to the community as a whole.
A highlight, she said, was participating in the Dancing with the Stars fund raiser that paired dance professionals with community members (she was one of them) for a competition.
“That was a life changer for me. I’ve been dancing ever since — my husband and I go out dancing all the time now.”
She also served for several years as a floats judge for the town’s Fourth of July parade.
The church has gained members and is growing stronger in other ways, she said. With help from the CPC and donations, the building is getting fresh paint and repairs.
“And we survived a fire,” she laughed.