Middletown’s South Church Welcomes New Pastor
MIDDLETOWN - On Sunday, Nov. 15, South Congregational Church in Middletown celebrated the installation of its new pastor, the Reverend Thea Racelis, followed by a reception in the social hall for the community.

       Although Pastor Thea began her ministry with South Church this past May, the installation ceremony formally recognizes her leadership as senior minister of South Church. Pastor Thea is the 26th senior minister to serve South Church since it was founded in 1797.

       Pastor Thea was born and grew up in Puerto Rico and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from the University of Puerto Rico. A few years later, she received a Master of Arts degree in education with a focus on communication studies. She earned her Master of Divinity degree from Claremont School of Theology, where she received the school’s Jeanne Audrey Powers Award, recognizing her commitment to service and leadership in LGBTQIA communities and diversity in ministry.

       Before moving to Connecticut, Pastor Thea served as the young adult ministry coordinator for the Southern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. She continues to be alive int eh United Church of Christ national setting by serving as the chair of the Justice and Witness Ministries Committee of the Board of Directors, as a member of the Investment and Endowment Committee. She has also served as president of the national Council for Hispanic Ministries of the United Church of Christ.

       “We are delighted that Pastor Thea has joined us and since she has started her ministry here we’ve already seen some exciting new programs,” said Lynne Garner, South Church president. “Some of those activities are done within the church, but others are part of her vision to expand upon South Church’s current work in the Middletown community.”

       New programs that have been started by Pastor Thea are coffee-office hours at Brew Bakers on Main Street on Wednesday afternoons and offering a “Blue Christmas” service that is designed for those who find the merriment of the Christmas season difficult because they are experiencing loss or other sadness.

       Pastor Thea lives in Middletown with her wife, Rikka Racelis, their three cats, turtles and fish.

       To learn more about the installation ceremony or other South Church activities, please contact the South Church office at 9 Pleasant St., Middletown, or call 860-346-5006.