Learn about our pastor and staff
Rev Charles Taylor, Pastor, shares his journey with us here:
I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and sometimes you can still hear a little bit of
Midwestern “twang” in my speech, even though I have lived, for the most part, in Massachusetts since I came
here to go to college in 1965. I grew up Presbyterian, in small village churches, where my parents were always
active members, and I as well, as I became a teenager. Memories of church potlucks with the smell of coffee
perking in the kitchen, grace over the table, the sound of dear old hymns sung in harmony, bountiful prayers for
those in distress—all these rich experiences of my youth formed the solid foundation for my faith today.
In the turmoil of the 60’s and early 70’s, that faith was kicked aside and then neglected—I was swept up
in the protest movements, and the Christianity that I had known seemed lost and out of touch. Little did I
understand how it was I who was lost.
In the mid-1990’s, at a time of great personal need, I began to search once again, with desperation, for a
spiritual vitality that could sustain me through my turmoil. Thus began my journey back to the God I know and
trust. I went to every variety of Christian worship I could during that time, and even ventured to India on a 3-
week trip of solidarity with small Christian churches there. I also volunteered at Mother Teresa’s hospitals for
the dying in Calcutta during that trip. By 2004, I was certain that God was calling me into a more direct
ministry for God’s great work of justice and compassion. That year, I volunteered at the Boston Rescue
Mission, which houses a homeless shelter as well as a long-term shelter for men and women in recovery. Very
soon I was invited to become their Director of Operations and I served in that position from 2004-2005.
By 2007 I had relocated to Greenfield, MA, and with my wife Betsy’s strong support, I began seminary
studies in Hartford Seminary to prepare for active ministry as a UCC pastor. I graduated in May of 2011 with a
Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, and received a call from United Church of
Ware in early 2012. I became their settled pastor in May of that year. What joy!
We moved down to Ware in the fall of 2012 and are happily located just a short distance from the
church, so I walk over to work most mornings after seeing Betsy off to her job in Hartford and our daughter
Andrea off to high school. That walk often includes our little Bichon “Max” who is much beloved by everyone
he greets and who often takes up residence at the church during my hours there. He’s even shown up at both
Saturday and Sunday services, to everyone’s delight.
Shortly after arriving, I was invited by the Ware Fire Department to become their Chaplain, a volunteer
post which has given me many opportunities to engage with the firefighters here, as well as offer comfort and
care to families displaced by fires in their homes. I have also become a steadfast member of the Ware Domestic
Violence Task Force, which serves Ware and several other communities in the area. The task force has been in
place for fifteen years now and has made tremendous strides in establishing services for victims and raising the
consciousness of the local communities. I am also active in the newly formed Quaboag Hills Community
Coalition Substance Use Task Force which is focusing on responses to the deadly epidemic of heroin use and
overdose in Ware and other local hill towns.
It feels like a great privilege to me, to be the pastor of this wonderful church community here in Ware,
and to be received with such a level of trust in the wider community. God is eternally good, eternally hopeful,
and eternally grateful; Christ’s leadership is constant and his encouragement is continual. The Holy Spirit’s
edifying and fortifying presence works through communities of all kind and character to bring out the best in us,
to help us flourish and live more fully in the light of God’s love. We are in good hands!
A more lengthy and anecdotal sketch of my faith journey–“One man’s long journey to find his calling”
was put together by Tommy Shea, a columnist for the Springfield Republican, who interviewed me in early
March, 2011. It is available online here: http://www.masslive.com/tomshea/index.ssf/2011/03/charles_taylor_harvard_dorm_ma.html
Karla Newmark, Director of Music
Karla began accompanying singers and instrumentalists at the age of 12, in church, school, and for community programs. She earned degrees in Music (Riverside City College) and Speech Pathology (University of Massachusetts) and has served churches in both California and Massachusetts. Prior to the United Church of Ware, Karla most recently served as Music Director at Faith United in Springfield, MA. In addition to directing the choir she is a gifted pianist and organist and brings a creative zeal to her work in planning worship services and special programs.
Georgeann Koziol, Administrator
Jane Page, Treasurer