Grace Lutheran Church welcomes interim pastor

Published 6:48 pm Monday, September 11, 2017

A Washington church welcomed a new face to its congregation.

Grace Lutheran Church gave a warm embrace to its interim pastor, Judy Tavela. Tavela, a Lutheran church veteran and Virginia transplant, has taken over pastoral duties at the church while its search for a permanent leader continues.

She lives in Cape Carteret, but commutes to Washington to serve the church. Tavela said the church has shown her nothing but love and warmth as she has transitioned into her new role.

“It’s the absolute hospitality, the warm welcome. And they sing. … They may not know what a big deal that is. They make a joyful sound on Sunday mornings. They are all so dedicated,” Tavela said.

Tavela said it is her pleasure to be able to give the members a pastoral presence and someone to serve alongside them while the church seeks a pastor.

She served for 10 years at a small Lutheran church near Roanoke, Virginia, before relocating to Cape Carteret last year and retiring. However, she said it was clear she wasn’t quite ready to retire, because when the opportunity to fill in at Grace Lutheran arose, she was more than thrilled to be back in the church atmosphere.

“I left my congregation last October. You love people and churches become family. I missed it dreadfully,” Tavela said. “I have really missed being able to be in the pulpit on a daily basis. I’m delighted that God has a place that I could serve.”

Tavela said the church has an open door; members encourage anyone to come in to worship and serve with them. The members have varied backgrounds, too — some have a background in the Catholic Church and some in the Baptist denomination, among others, according to Tavela, but they seem to mesh together successfully.

“It’s a nice mix of people that work very well together. They love one another quite well. They love where they are,” Tavela said. “I even told them, ‘You are a small and mighty church. Don’t ever think that small isn’t important.’ The force of the Holy Spirit and the strength of love can do a lot of things.”

While Tavela doesn’t reside in Washington, the atmosphere of the small town impressed her. She said when she drives over the bridge on U.S. Highway 17, the view is inviting, the vibe, relaxing.

“It’s peaceful. I visited with a person that’s ill Sunday afternoon. They lived in downtown Washington. We sat out on her front porch as neighbors walked by.

Sat down there on rockers. And I just said, ‘Wow, what a life. This is great,’” Tavela said.

Tavela said she knows she will treasure her time spent serving in Washington, and she’s excited to continue to share the word of God to church members.

“I am delighted to serve in Washington as long as God will have me be there,” Tavela said.