When the Rev. Lorraine DeArmitt of Southold United Methodist Church passed the torch this week to the Rev. Jin Hyoung Kim, it was with a sense that she’d achieved the goals she set for herself 10 years ago.
“They’re really in a good place,” Pastor DeArmitt said of the members of her congregation. Listening to tributes from several parishioners on Sunday, she said she realized that her original aim of helping people better understand the Bible and know God has been achieved.
“It was kind of like attending your own funeral,” she said.
The Rev. DeArmitt is leaving Southold to become pastor of Westbury United Methodist Church, with a congregation of 150, three times the size of her current flock.
It’s a cross-cultural appointment, she said, and many of her new congregants will be African-American or from the Caribbean or Africa.
It has been “a conflicted congregation,” she said, but one with a social activist conscience, much in tune with Pastor DeArmitt’s own sensibilities.
She plans to approach the new assignment armed with the same advice she got when she first entered the ministry.
“What people want to know is that the pastor loves God and them,” she said.
Pastor DeArmitt first came to the Southold ministry after a 25-year career as a therapist. At the time, she saw it as an opportunity “to touch more people and to focus on their spiritual needs.” She admits that in the beginning, that goal seemed elusive.
Instead of the intimacy that had existed with her patients, she encountered distance with her new parishioners. But that distance closed over time, as an increasing number of people sought to talk to her about personal and family issues, and their relationship to God.
Listening to Sunday’s tributes, she said she realized just how “in sync” with her thinking her parishioners have become.
Southold Methodists today are alive and well and very much involved in improving the lot of others beyond their own church walls, she said.
They have participated with Volunteers In Mission, traveling to other countries to both spread the faith and participate in building projects to improve the lives of people in poverty-stricken communities. And they have supported Pastor DeArmitt’s involvement in running the Eastern Steering Committee of the Long Island Council of Churches, her role as vice president of the council’s Board of Governors, her work as a board member of Community Action Southold Town and her leadership of Southold’s original Community Land Trust.
The congregation also showed how giving they can be with the gift they gave their outgoing pastor: $500 to purchase safe drinking water devices for people in Haiti.
The pastor is so proud that her congregation, who also gave her a gym membership in her new adopted home of Westbury, knew the best way to please her would be to help people in need.
“That’s just very cool,” she said.