Christ Episcopal Church in Newton will welcome the Rev. Canon Christopher Streeter to the role of priest in charge, effective April 1.
Streeter will be the 20th cleric to take over the reins of Christ Church since its founding in 1769.
He replaces the Rev. Canon Robert Griner, who retired last June.
Christ Church is one of 96 congregations and four affiliated worshipping communities in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, which covers the northern third of New Jersey.
In addition to its community outreach, the parish is renowned for its beautiful architecture and outstanding music program.
Christ Church is located at 62 Main St. in Newton.
Streeter, who was raised in Newton, comes to the parish after working at various roles in Pennsylvania and New York. Most recently, he served in a senior position in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania on projects involving supporting and restructuring congregations.
He has served as rector or assistant rector at parishes in the New York municipalities of Caledonia, Penfield, Pittsford and Scottsville in the Diocese of Rochester.
Streeter received his Master of Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary and his bachelor’s degree in music from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.
During his youth, Streeter spent years performing in the Children’s Chorus of Sussex County, which rehearsed and performed at Christ Church.
“I’m a musician. Music is what drew me to church as a kid, what kept me in the church as a teen and young adult, and music is a major part of what drew me to become ordained. Some of my earliest musical experiences were at Christ Church,” he said.
The ability of the parish to welcome those from across the political and socioeconomic spectrum factored heavily in Streeter’s decision to return to his hometown.
“What really struck me about Christ Church was the parish’s emphasis on fostering a safe space for folks who fall on different sides of the political divide to be able to worship together. Jesus’s teaching has political implications that affect how we act societally, but there is a major distinction between politics and partisanship. Seeing that in action convinced me that I was being called to serve at Christ Church,” he said.
The Sunday Brunch in a Bag ministry, along with the emphasis on hospitality at Christ Church, also was intriguing to Streeter. “Sharing a meal that you had a hand in preparing brings you into a relationship with others in a beautiful, intimate way. Christ Church is faith in action, feeding heart, body, mind and soul.”
The Rev. Canon Margo Peckham Clark of the Diocese of Newark said, “We live in such changing and challenging times, it really requires an individualized process for parishes seeking new clergy and always with the goal of getting a good fit.
“I am so delighted that at Christ Church Newton, that process has led Canon Streeter to accept this appointment as priest in charge! It’s so exciting he is coming home to Newton with his family. I am confident this will be great for Christ Church Newton, all of Sussex County and for the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.”
Returning to Newton after years away from his hometown played a large part in Streeter’s desire to helm Christ Church.
“It was a major piece of my decision,” he said. “The pandemic raised my awareness of reuniting with family, and both my wife and I want that for ourselves and for our kids. I’m also looking forward to getting reacquainted with the community where I grew up.”
After years of serving 63 parishes on the diocesan level, he is looking forward to returning to a single faith community. “I’ve missed the rhythm and community of a parish and the more focused pastoral call, which allows you to be a part of all life events, from baptisms to weddings to burials.
“Part of what we value in faith is stability and I am looking forward to having that for myself and for my family. Christ Church is a very strong parish. There is an abundance of blessings at Christ Church, and I am excited to see what God is calling us to do.”
For information about Christ Episcopal Church in Newton, call 973-383-2245 or go online to www.christchurchnewton.org