WILLIAMSTOWN -- Charles "Chuck" St. John served as the town's finance director and accountant for 27 years before retiring in January of 2012 to take up seminary studies.
Little did he know his new career path would bring him back to town as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Williamstown.
"I'm impressed by the people here," St. John, 58, said recently in his office at the church located at 731 Main St. "The people here are faithful. They are trying to do things the right way."
St. John, who's held the title since April, spoke about wanting to continue the strong community that's existed since 1794 by inspiring members to have a relationship with God and reading the Bible.
He acknowledged the church, built in 1906, has been well taken care of. And the congregation plans on replacing the oil burner with a clean-burning gas fired furnace.
"We're here to stay," he said.
St. John, a Cheshire native, said he began filling in for pastors when they were ill or on vacation since the 1990s. He and his wife of 23 years, Marie, also held Bible studies in their home and participated in Bible study groups, he said.
After his wife passed away from leukemia in March 2010, he served as the interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of North Adams for six months, he said.
It was then that things began falling into place.
"I felt the Lord was calling me to prepare me for pastorhood," St. John said. "I felt that even though I preached a long time, I needed to go to school to think about it on a full-time basis.
He attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, living with his son in Peabody during the week. He returned to Cheshire on weekends to serve as the Hancock Baptist Church's pastor, and then completed a full-time internship with a pastor in Gloucester.
He took the Williamstown position on an interim basis in June 2013, he said, replacing Peter Daniels. He became the permanent pastor on Palm Sunday.
"As I was here, it just seemed like this was the place I should be," he said.
St. John said the small congregation now consists of 15 regular members. Some are Williams College students, he said, with one having played the piano this past year and another serving as a vocalist.
His priorities include continuing outreach to college students, running a free daily meal program, and holding a series on the 10 Commandments this month, he said.
For more information on the church, visit fbcwilliamstownma.org or call 413-458-4811.
To reach Edward Damon:
or (413) 663-3741, ext 224.
On Twitter: @BE_EDamon