Pastor brings ‘new energy’ and ‘fresh perspective’ to Zion’s Hill
Over the summer, the Zion’s Hill United Methodist Church congregation welcomed the Rev. Michael Barry, of South Salem, N.Y., as its new minister.
The church’s previous minister, the Rev. Peggy Fabrazio, was appointed to serve at another congregation, said Barry, whose first Sunday at Zion’s Hill was July 1.
Barry said he was appointed to Zion’s Hill by the United Methodist Church’s New York Annual Conference bishop, Thomas Bickerton, who “felt [his] spiritual gifts and talents fit well” with the church.
Serving a “dual charge,” Barry said he spends half his time at Zion’s Hill and the other half as head pastor at Stevens Memorial United Methodist Church in South Salem.
Barry was born and raised in Warwick, N.Y., and has been a Methodist all his life — despite “drifting greatly away from the church as a young man,” he said.
Around 2003, Barry said, he felt “a very strong and specific calling to return” after a life-threatening bout with cancer.
“[That’s] when I realized that I had been a consumer most of my life and it was time I began to give back rather than continuing to take,” he said. “I was given a new lease on life, and I felt strongly that God was a big part of that.”
Barry said he started “slowly volunteering to read in church,” which led to him becoming a Sunday school teacher and youth leader at New Milford-Edenville United Methodist Church in New Milford, N.Y.
“It’s been a process and journey, but it’s clear that this is where I’m being called, for sure,” said Barry, who went on to serve as youth pastor — and then associate pastor — at Grace United Methodist Church for five years beginning in 2008.
In 2013, Barry and his family relocated to South Salem, where he began serving as pastor of Stevens Memorial United Methodist Church. In July of that year, he started a dual charge appointment with Stevens Memorial and Ridgefield’s Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, which lasted two years. After that, Barry served full-time at Stevens Memorial, where — although no longer full-time — he is going into his sixth year.
In 2014, Barry completed the master of divinity program at Drew Theological Seminary, graduating with honors in preaching and homiletics. Three years later, he was ordained as an elder in full connection in the United Methodist New York Annual Conference.
As an ordained elder and a head pastor, Barry said, he is “called and appointed to embody the teachings of Jesus in servant ministries and servant leadership in the communities of Wilton and South Salem, or wherever God calls me to serve.”
“John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, proclaimed on Hanham Mount near Bristol, England, ‘The World Is My Parish,’” said Barry. “I feel a true call and responsibility to embody this historical, and very relevant, vision for then and today.”
As Zion’s Hill’s new minister, Barry said he hopes to “bring new energy, a fresh perspective, passion, experience and leadership” to the church, as he serves “the community and members of Zion’s Hill.”
“I grew up in the United Methodist Church and I believe in its polity and the way in which we express ourselves as the Body of Christ,” he said. “The Methodist Church was once a movement that couldn’t be slowed or stopped, and I will do everything I can to facilitate a rekindling of that movement here in Wilton.”
Barry said he also wants to “dispel some of the talk on the street — Zion’s Hill United Methodist Church isn’t closed, and we haven’t shut our doors,” he said.
In fact, Barry said, “we are eager to meet, greet, and see many of the folk that used to be members or attendees, and will certainly look forward to seeing folk around town.”
Zion’s Hill United Methodist Church is at 470 Danbury Road. Information: zionshillmethodist.org.