April 30, 2015: Tri-Town Transcript
“Meet the Minister: Middleton’s Pastor Schell, a modest man on a mission”
By Linda Greenstein
Posted Apr. 30, 2015 at 6:58 PM
Pastor Larry Schell feels blessed to be the shepherd of the [Middleton Congregational Church] for the past dozen years.
“When I came to Middleton, my first priority was to lead the people of the church to a deeper relationship with the Lord,” remembered Schell. “It has been a blessing to watch people come to know God and find their purpose in God.”
Doing God’s work
Schell is a humble man who would rather praise the work of his parishioners than his own accomplishments. He is proud of his community of faith and how they care for one another.
“Just this afternoon I learned that one member of our adult bible study group checks in on a 90-year-old member of our church community everyday. It is a blessing to watch our people care for one another and grow in their relationship with God.”
Schell commends the missionary work of his church and individuals that reach out to help others and those within the congregation that support the outreach projects. The church has active mission programs that support the Food Pantry in Middleton, one that feeds people at a homeless shelter in Salem, and teens that travel to the Bowery in New York City and to Guatemala “to do The Lord’s work.”
He cites the formal mission programs the small kindnesses of his church members such as visiting others that are hospitalized and praying for those that are sick as examples of ways his church members find their purpose in God.
“Our congregation’s commitment to mission work has grown wonderfully over the years,” he said. “Our Fellowship Hall is a place for gatherings,” explained Schell. “Some members of the community have even hosted pasta dinners before soccer games. It is rewarding to see so many of our people connected to so many activities.”
The church’s building is also used for four Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week and by the Middleton Council on Aging.
The larger community
Schell came to Middleton from Boxford, where he served as associate pastor of the First Congregational Church from 1994 to 2002.
“It took a while for me to feel part of the larger community,” recalled Schell. “The almost 13 years have gone by quickly. It is rewarding to be out and about in the community and have a strong relationship with people even if they do not attend our church. Pastor Peter Vantine and I were at Freddy’s Place (restaurant) recently and we had several people say hello that were not church members.”
Schell is modest about his own community outreach, but it is not surprising he is recognized in Middleton as he serves as Chaplain for the Middleton Police and Fire Departments. He is also a regular participant at community-wide events and serves as president of the Tri-Town Clergy Association.
“While we may vary theologically, it is a joy to know the other clergy members and see their concern for their communities.”
An important blessing for Schell has been the support of Peter Vantine, Pastor of Music and Worship. “Peter is like my co-pastor. He is a tremendous help and the music programs are a wonderful part of our worship.” Another blessing has been the support he has received with the renovation and upkeep of the church and Christian Education Building.
“In 2008, the sanctuary was completely renovated. This is a reflection of a community that cares about each other,” said Schnell. “Several members of our community stepped up to take leadership roles in overseeing the restorations. We are now looking at the possibility of expanding our facility. We are approaching a decision on an expansion project. Currently we are examining how it would allow us to better service the community. It is an exciting and anxious time. We are still visiting the idea with prayer.”
Vantine sums up Schell’s contributions to the church: “I grew up in the church and had three pastors before Larry. All of them brought something to the church, but Larry has been able to foster the community’s relationship with God. He has brought the church family close to God.”
Editor’s note: This is the third story in the Tri-Town Transcript series ‘Meet the Minister’, featuring the leaders of our tri-town churches.
MAY 30, 2014: Tri-Town Transcript
“Car Wash for a Cause”
This Saturday morning, May 31, from 9 a.m. to Noon, there will be car wash at the Middleton Congregational Church for a good cause: serving the homeless. For the third year the church will be sending a team from their Rock Solid Youth Group to the Bowery Mission in New York City.
“The Bowery has been serving the poor in New York since 1879,” Pastor Larry Schell said. “Our team will help provide meals for the week we are there. We work in the mission’s kitchen as well as bringing meals to streets and parks where the homeless are.” For more information on the Bowery Mission come to the car wash on Saturday (or check out www.bowery.org).