The congregation of Hopewell United Methodist Church welcomed Rev. Kate Hillis as the new pastor, starting this week.
Leaders of the church participated in a welcoming ceremony for Pastor Kate and her husband, Wren Hillis, a Drew Theological student, who is also pursuing ordained ministry.
Pastor Kate succeeds Rev. Dr. Ken Robinson, who retired from the Hopewell United Methodist Church in June, after 24 years of service in Hopewell, and nearly 40 years in ministry. Rev. Robinson and his wife Ronda moved to the Outerbanks in North Carolina.
In a previous interview, Pastor Kate said she will seek to build bridges with church and community. “The church can be a place that serves as a resource for its surrounding community, where all people feel welcome and cared for,” she said. “We share the love of Christ, not just in what we say, but in our actions.”
In conversations with members, Hillis has found that the congregation is also very passionate about being a benefit to the community. “Hopewell UMC has a lot to offer. The First Friday Open Mic nights, the passion our people have for the arts, and even our church kitchen are all gifts we have been given. It’s our responsibility to use them to glorify God and take care of others,” she said.
Her areas of interest include the arts, gardening, cooking and ministry opportunities around food and nutrition. “I think that there is a lot that gardening and agriculture can teach us about the Christian faith. Scripture tells us that all of creation came alive when God breathed life into the soil. We are all made of the same stuff and were created to be dependent upon one another,” she said.
A native of upstate New York, Pastor Hillis has spent the last seven years doing ministry in various settings in Central New Jersey. She has served as senior pastor at the Lumberton United Methodist Church, director of youth and children’s ministries at Kingston United Methodist Church, and as chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. She holds a B.A. in Religion and Youth Ministry from Houghton College (New York) and a M.Div. and a M.A. in Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary.