New vicar will lead two North Fork churches

The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island named the Rev. Roger Joslin as vicar of both Church of the Redeemer in Mattituck and Holy Trinity Church in Greenport, establishing a North Fork Episcopal Ministries that will explore the potential for a Hispanic ministry in the area.

“There are a large number of Latinos working in agriculture around here, in the vineyards in particular, and service industries,” Mr. Joslin said. “I think it’s important that they be included in our ministry as well and so does the bishop.”

The Right Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, bishop of the Long Island diocese, said in a statement that the ministry will serve the “growing but sometimes invisible population of dayworkers, farm workers and families of day laborers who live, work and travel the North Fork of Long Island.”

“The ministry of the church is to serve, support and provide for all of God’s people in any given place,” the bishop. “On the North Fork, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island is determined to care for those most in need by deliberate inclusion and pastoral, liturgical and sacramental care. Father Joslin will provide the leadership and willingness for this emerging ministry.”

The new vicar is a Texas native who earned his undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in political science at the University of Texas at Austin. He also studied international relations at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, and graduated from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in 2005.

Now he’s exploring the histories of and differences between the two North Fork congregations he serves. While he sees challenges in leading two churches and already feels tugged in both directions, he said he is up to the task.

Conversations with parishioners have shown him that Mattituck, which is rooted in agriculture, and Greenport, a fishing village, are distinct, he said.

“I feel at this stage a bit like an anthropologist,” he said. “I’m exploring and learning about the cultures and seeing what the larger needs are in the community and how the churches can meet those needs.”

The Rev. Joslin has spent the past decade in Bentonville, Ark., hometown of Walmart, where he formed an Episcopal congregation that grew to be the fifth largest and most diverse in the Diocese of Arkansas, with average Sunday attendance of more than 230, according to the Long Island diocese.

Another goal, he said, is to grow the congregations of both churches, where he noted that Sunday attendance has dwindled and the membership is mostly older. It’s not a matter of just keeping the churches going, he said.

“We don’t want to put these churches on life support,” he said. “It’s a matter of growth.”

A key to revitalizing membership will be letting people know all are welcome, the reverend said, adding that there are people who, for all kinds of reasons, do not feel included in other churches.

“I want to make sure that people who do not feel included, for whatever reason, feel welcome here,” he said. “That’s kind of the foundation for growth — to reach out to folks who are looking for a home and provide that for them.”

Although Bentonville is a small town, he said, it was very much engulfed in a corporate culture, with an influx of outside influence that was a little threatening to the area’s natives. He said he found it “fascinating” to practice the Episcopal charge to be open and inclusive in a place that was changing rapidly.

The Rev. Joslin’s most recent work in Bentonville consisted of creating a tri-faith alliance with the goal of building a space where Jewish, Christian and Muslim congregations can worship under the same roof.

“The Episcopal Church has a strong history of inclusion of all God’s children, so rich and poor, gay and straight, and black and white and brown, old and young — they’re all welcome here,” he said, which is something he wants to make known on the North Fork. “It’s a very unique and beautiful place, but we want to make sure everybody can experience that.”

The reverend led his first service in Greenport on April 16 and his first in Mattituck on April 23.

Photo Caption: The Rev. Roger Joslin was recently named vicar of both Church of the Redeemer in Mattituck and Holy Trinity Church in Greenport. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

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