The Rev. Timothy Weisman to leave Zion Lutheran Church after nearly 9 years
PITTSFIELD — The Rev. Timothy Weisman has spent nearly nine years helping his congregation reconnect with the community.
The pastor of Zion Lutheran Church on First Street has witnessed the congregants be more welcoming to all faiths. Together, they established religious and secular programs and spearheaded a major church renovation that benefited church and nonchurch members.
"It's been a packed eight-and-a-half years; Zion and I have been a real good match," Weisman said. "If [church members] have taught me anything, it's if they want to get something done, they will."
The successful match will soon come to an end.
With a heavy heart, Weisman has announced his resignation, effective March 8, the last time he celebrates Sunday service at Zion in the heart of the city.
The Indiana native is moving to New York City to become the pastor at Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity anchored in Central Park West in lower Manhattan.
Weisman, now 36, arrived at Zion in fall 2011, and was ceremoniously installed as pastor in January 2012. Zion was his first full-time assignment since seminary school, making it that much harder to leave.
"It's not so much that I'm leaving Pittsfield, but being called somewhere else," he said. "I must always be open to the call of the church."
The Rev. Joel Huntington, pastor of South Congregational Church, says his friend will be "very deeply missed."
"He's a compassionate person and so effective as an organizer and a leader," Huntington said.
Weisman's initial call was secular in nature, first becoming the music director at Trinity Lutheran Church in Milford, Conn. (2006 to 2009). From 2009 to 2010, he headed west for a year as vicar at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Vancouver, Wash., followed by being a pastoral assistant (2010 to 2011) at Grace Lutheran Church in La Grange, Ill.
During this time period, Weisman attended and graduated from Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Conn., followed by Chicago's Lutheran School of Theology. He was ordained as a Lutheran minister in 2011 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
Shortly thereafter, he was named the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church and immediately made his presence felt.
In September 2012, Weisman and his followers launched Jazz Vespers, an evening of prayer featuring live jazz. The event on the first Thursday of the month would grow from a small gathering entertained by a volunteer pianist to four paid musicians and more than 100 worshippers attending the monthly gathering — the vast majority nonchurch members, according to Weisman.
More recently, church volunteers have spent the last Thursday of each month engaged in their Laundry Love program. For a few hours at a North Street laundromat, they cleaned, fluffed and folded clothes for the city's less fortunate.
In addition, Zion holds a weekly 20-minute worship service on Wednesdays and works with other Pittsfield churches serving free community meals through the Cathedral of the Beloved program.
But, the highlight of Weisman's pastoral legacy at Zion is the $1.5 million in renovations the past four years, an overhaul of the sanctuary being the project's centerpiece.
"Watching the transformation unfold [at Zion Lutheran Church] has been remarkable," Huntington noted.
To make the worship space more inviting, the permanent pews were removed and the pulpit, altar table and other church fixtures relocated to the original southerly location. The reconfiguration allowed the sanctuary to double as a common room for a variety of church and community activities held the rest of the week.
Zion members also took advantage of the $4.6 million renovation of The Common adjacent to the church to enhance their community involvement. Completed months before Weisman's arrival in 2012, the rejuvenated city park soon would become home to the Pittsfield Farmers Market and Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park staged at the newly constructed pavilion.
Zion has provided the rehearsal and production space necessary to stage the plays.
"Pastor Tim opened the doors and gave us a home," said Enrico Spada, founder/artistic director of the summer theater troupe. "The spiritual and logistical support of the Zion Lutheran Church has made it possible for us to do what we've done these last five years, and we are forever grateful."
Weisman says he leaves confident in knowing that his successor will inherit a forward-thinking congregation.
"I'm most proud of a congregation who have been courageous, faithful, generous and undaunted by the challenges they've faced," he said.
Weisman expects that Zion will have an interim pastor until the church members choose his replacement.
Dick Lindsay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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