PASTOR JOHN DALE has led the congregation at First Parish Congregational Church for the past five years. He now plans to retire at the end of July. (Courtesy Photo)


WAKEFIELD — Since the spring of 2019, Pastor John Dale has led the congregation at First Parish Congregational Church (FPCC) affectionately known as “the stone church by the Lake.” Now, five years later at the end of July he is preparing to end a career he has enjoyed for more than 30 years. 

Pastor Dale called it an honor to serve FPCC’s congregation over the past five plus years. 

“It’s also been gratifying to know that 50 or more folks have joined the church since my arrival,” he commented. “There have been many baptisms, too.” Indeed, it has gladdened Pastor Dale’s heart to see people come to faith and become baptized and members of the church. “I have loved seeing new people becoming involved in the ministry of FPCC,” he said, adding that during his pastoral time at FPCC he reached most of his goals.

Diaconate Chairman Robert (Bob) Blaser said about Dale, “Pastor John has been a great spiritual leader for our church. He has doctrinally prepared our church body through sound sermons and numerous Bible studies. As a result, First Parish is ready to grow into a truly Christ-centered church serving Wakefield.”

Diaconate Moderator Mark Hatheway commented that First Parish has been greatly blessed with Pastor Dale as the church’s shepherd. “Not only did he bring his talent for preaching God’s word, he also brought his guitars, banjo and mandolin,” said Hatheway. “I am especially thankful for his pastoring through the COVID pandemic. Under Pastor Dale’s Christ-centered preaching, we have grown stronger as a church and are focused on our mission to reflect the love of God by welcoming all people into a life-changing, ever growing relationship with Jesus.”

Though Pastor Dale will no longer lead the FPCC congregation, he does not plan to retire from life. 

On the contrary, he is looking forward to spending more time with his guitar, hosting Bible studies, catching up on his reading and seeing a bit more of the world with his wife Kathy. The couple also hope to spend more time with their children Luke and his wife Amber and Erin and her husband Mark. They also plan to move to Wells, N.Y. where they own a farmhouse built in the 1800s. Dale said that maintaining and updating the property will keep them busy. His plans also include “pulpit supply,” a program that invites pastors to preach for a church he or she does not attend on a regular basis. In addition, he may look into becoming an interim minister.

For Pastor Dale’s final Bible study, he said it was not by accident that he chose to have a study on the ‘end times.’ “I planned it this way because we are seeing so much upheaval in our world,” he said. “This was the perfect time to teach about Bible prophecy and final world events.” Pastor Dale’s favorite pastoral duties have included preaching and teaching and visiting people in hospitals and shut-ins in their homes. In fact, he may include these activities in his retirement.

As he prepares for his departure, Pastor Dale commented that FPCC’s leadership team works well together and common goals are being realized. “A spirit of love and cooperation permeates First Parish,” he commented. 

Diaconate member Pam Hodgson said that John Dale has been a ‘wonderful’ pastor, leader and role model at FPCC. “He truly lives out his faith and inspires us all to do so. He has shared in our joys and sorrows with empathy and compassion,” she said. Hodgson added that during the coronavirus pandemic the church had continuity in worship services because of his leadership.

During this difficult time, the church’s Stephen Ministry, select members who pray one-on-one with those in need grew and was revitalized. “We have also welcomed new members from several towns outside of Wakefield,” she said. While Pastor John and his wife will be missed, he is certain to have a positive impact on others wherever they go, said Hodgson.

Pastor Dale has hopes for Christian churches; that they will continue to grow and thrive in the coming years. “Christians and the Church need to remain faithful and be more involved with evangelism and discipleship,” he said. “As the world grows colder and as people fall away from the church, they both will need to come back together to form stronger and more cohesive relationships and focus on evangelism and discipleship. Churches must focus on truths that unite,” he said.

Pastor Dale’s advice to FPCC’s new minister Brendan Jorgensen is both wise and sound. “Be faithful and preach and teach the truth of the Bible even though this can be challenging,” he said. As for his congregation, he hopes they will support Pastor Jorgensen and give him and his family time to grow into the community and church family. “Remain faithful to your calling in Jesus Christ,” he advised. “Study the Bible and live by it.”

Following the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, July 14, a dinner will be held at the church to celebrate Pastor John and give him a loving send-off into retirement.