The needler in the haystack.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Crescent Avenue's pastor Rob Martin takes new post in Ohio


Rob Martin on his last Sunday at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church.

The New Year is bringing change for Plainfield's Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church as pastor Robert Martin brings his 16-year ministry to a close.

Rob, as he is known to everyone, will take up his duties as the Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Athens, Ohio, on January 15.

I was taken quite by surprise at a New Year's Eve party when my friend Pat, who is a member of Crescent Avenue, told me that New Years Day was to be Rob's last day presiding at Sunday services. (Hence my somewhat hasty CLIPS yesterday.)

Rob brought to his ministry at Crescent Avenue a personal warmth and welcoming style that has had an immense impact on this storied Plainfield congregation
(as far as this infrequent visitor can tell).

Joining in the worship service yesterday, I at once noticed how diverse the congregation has become under Rob's tenure. Not only has Crescent Avenue become welcoming of Plainfield's racial diversity, it is also a parish that welcomes gays and lesbians into its fellowship.



The welcoming 'rainbow' banner went up this past Fall.

Member Joan Van Pelt and I shared a chuckle when she told me this past Fall to be on the lookout for a rainbow banner over the front door -- the universal sign that a parish welcomes gays and lesbians. The chuckle was over the fact that the congregation has long been a welcoming one and the banner comes well after the fact.

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian is also known throughout the area for its commitment to being a cultural resource, especially in the area of fine music.

Not only is the congregation host to the Plainfield Symphony, it brings its own musical resources to bear through the Crescent Concerts series and special programs by the Crescent Singers.

I suspect this aspect of his ministry must have been a special joy to Rob, who is said to be an excellent tenor, and who has also served on the board of the Friends of Jazz (including serving as president), the nonprofit founded by local jazz legend Robert Young.

Rob came to Plainfield from Plymouth, Indiana, where he served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church from 1991 to 1996. His ministry there followed a year's internship at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, where he had graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary and five years as Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in South Bend, Indiana.

Rob is a graduate of Muskingum University, a Presbyterian institution in central Ohio, where he met his wife Barbara.



Historic First Presbyterian Church in Athens, Ohio, was organized in 1809, five years after
the founding of nearby Ohio University, while Ohio was still part of the Northwest Territories.

In a sense, coming to the congregation in Athens will be like going home for Rob and Barbara. Athens, home to Ohio University, is in southeast Ohio and lies in the foothills of the Allegheny mountains -- but it is not far from New Concord, where Muskingum is located.


Athens is in southeast Ohio, in the foothills of the Alleghenies.

The upwelling of sadness in losing a beloved pastor, mixed with wellwishes as Rob and Barbara move into a new phase in their ministry, was palpable at Sunday's service, which was also, fittingly, a celebration of Holy Communion.

Rob and Barbara, we all thank you for all you have brought to your time in Plainfield and wish you Godspeed as you take up this new ministry.

We will never forget your time among us!


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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