The First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown begins a new season of church leadership upon the retirement of Rev. Dr. Rex Stewart after 29 years of service. The pastor nominating committee, with the unanimous endorsement of the congregation, announced the call of the Rev. Robert J. Hagel as the 21st pastor and head of staff.
Hagel comes to Youngstown with a Master of Divinity degree from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is certified in spiritual direction, family ministry and nonprofit management.
A press release said, “The Rev. Hagel is a strong preacher, worship leader and experienced pastor, having served urban, suburban and rural congregations. For the past 19 years, he provided spiritual leadership for an inner-city congregation in his native St. Louis, Missouri, and led the First Presbyterian Church of Jamestown, New York. He is passionate about leading worship, building community and sharing faith stories.”
Hagel said, “I look to serve a congregation that practices an openness, acceptance and welcome to all people; a church that creates a truly cross-generational community with a focus on family ministry; that takes risks, and thinks and moves outside its comfort zones in order to do the work of the Spirit; that is growing stronger in faith and relationships with others; and that is working beyond its walls in the greater community.”
Chair Jeff Streb said, “The pastor nominating committee was particularly impressed with Rev. Hagel's demonstrated track record as a compassionate, hopeful and spiritually mature leader. Further, he is a strong communicator and engaging worship leader who nurtures relationships with colleagues, staff, congregation, and the diverse community beyond the churches he has served.”
Hagel and his wife, Kate, will reside at the church’s manse in Youngstown, along with three of their seven children: Raine, Nora and Hugo, who are school-aged. Kate is a shepherd, cheese monger, freelance social media consultant, and professional writer. The couple’s four older children – Conor, Rosie, Max and Oliver – are living independently or away at college.
The press release added, “Rev. Hagel is impressed with the conviction that the First Presbyterian Church is a church for the community, and the building isn’t only for the congregation members, but is for the entire community of Youngstown. Emphasizing the sentiment, he found so attracting what the pastor nominating committee described, ‘If our church doesn’t find the need, it often finds us.’ ”
All are invited to Hagel’s first Sunday preaching on Sunday, Oct. 2, with a luncheon to follow. Services at First Presbyterian of Youngstown are in person and online at 10 a.m.
For more information on worship, children and youth programs, call 716-745-7067 or visit the church’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/youngstownpres.