Vibrant new minister to serve at United Methodist Church

The Rev. Dr. Anna Crews Camphouse is already at work reviving the spirit of the United Methodist Church to serve Millerton.

Leila Hawken

Vibrant new minister to serve at United Methodist Church

MILLERTON — Since beginning her ministry at the United Methodist Church in February, the Rev. Dr. Anna Crews Camphouse is already seeing growth in numbers and a potential for increasing programs in service to the community that surrounds the historic church.

She is not new to the area, nor to the challenges; when she took the position in Millerton, she was already serving thriving Methodist churches in Sharon and Lakeville, Connecticut.

Camphouse made time for an interview Thursday, March 7, in the church sanctuary.

“It’s not the most I’ve done at one time,” Camphouse observed when asked how she will manage to lead three churches simultaneously. From 2017 to 2019, when she was at Auburn University in Alabama, she led a large student pastor education program involving vast field work, in addition to pastoring three churches.

“It’s a small congregation right now,” Camphouse said of Millerton, where services will be offered on the first and third Sundays of each month beginning at 3 p.m.

On all Sundays, the Lakeville church worships at 9:15 a.m. and the Sharon congregation worships at 10:30 a.m.

The Millerton church has “an incredible history,” Camphouse said, noting that people are beginning to come back after a long hiatus. In the church’s prime, it served as an emotional as well as physical center in the community.

“It is a landmark,” she said, given its architectural beauty inside and out, and its location at the top of Millerton’s Main Street.

An unusual feature is that the sanctuary, the worship space, is on the second floor; Camphouse remarked that it’s the same configuration as the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was the pastor during the time of the Montgomery bus boycott.

Questions that she asks herself and the Millerton church include, “How can the church elevate the community and build that community to lift up the spirit and better teach people simply to love one another?”

Looking beyond Millerton, Camphouse said that one of the great challenges in the modern world is to teach people of different backgrounds to come together, with the church functioning as a community center where relationships are built, begin

“I used to be an activist,” she said, “but that was a time when expressing your opinion would not get you fired.”

We’ve become addicted to fear, she said, which makes room for itself through loss of hope and loss of trust. “Faith and fear cannot abide” together, Camphouse said.

“We need to return to having a bias toward love and trust and listening and understanding,” Camphouse said. “It’s a desperate need,” the creation of a spiritual life.

“We are spiritual beings having a human life,” she said. “The church is there to live into that healing of the world, starting right there in your local community.”

Looking ahead to how the Millerton Methodist Church can foster community, Camphouse said that she and the church members are excited to be helping to plan for Millerton’s 150th anniversary in 2025.

With characteristic enthusiasm, Camphouse said she could envision a trip through the Southern states, perhaps a Civil Rights tour of the important sites of the 1950s and 1960s.

Community teas and conversations could be in the future, or fellowship programs with the Moviehouse, with film discussion and refreshments to follow at the church across the street.

The summer farmers market will continue to be a popular community draw, Camphouse said.

“I’m listening. I’m open to getting this going. I will appreciate any support along the way,” Camphouse said.

The next Sunday service will be March 17 at 3 p.m. To share any ideas or learn more, Camphouse invites anyone to reach her at annacrewscamphouse@gmail.com

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