She will lead Christmas Eve services at 6 p.m.
Cynthia Chertos gave her last sermon as pastor of First Congregational Church in Silverton last Sunday, Dec. 18.
Chertos is retiring after five years of leading the congregation, though she will lead Christmas Eve services. On Christmas Day, church members are putting on Silverton’s Community Christmas Dinner at the American Legion.
Cynthia came to Silverton from Washington, D.C., in 2003 with her son Zach, while her husband, Bill Dodge, commuted between Washington and Silverton.
Prior to attending the seminary, Cynthia worked on employment issues for women and minorities and headed the Commission for Women in Pittsburgh.
She said she attended seminary “just for myself. I had no job plans with it.”
When an opening came up in 2006 for a pastor for First Congregational Church, Chertos said she wasn’t initially too interested.
“Judy Graham called from the search committee,” she recalled. “I said no.” But then she agreed to at least consider it.
“I wasn’t wanting to ever do this. I was studying scripture and historical text and helping others with spiritual growth,” Chertos said. “I told her (Graham) I’d think about it.”
Chertos agreed to serve the church, arriving in the winter of 2006.
“It’s been an amazing blessing in my life,” Chertos said. “I’ve learned a lot from the people here.
“What’s been beautiful here is that we may not always agree but we love each other through it,” Chertos said.
The church plans to conduct lay services at the parsonage for the next three months when attendance is lower in the winter. The church board will then recruit a successor.
Meanwhile, Chertos is taking a mandatory 6-month break from the church to make room for the transition.
“By summer I’ll be back,” she said. “The congregation will evolve. Some things will change, inevitably, and I need to appreciate that.”
“Pastor Cynthia came to First Church with a vision for what this church could be and do,” said church board member Sue Kurtz. “She always challenged us to think outside the sanctuary, so to speak. We became a church who, even though we are small in numbers, took on mission projects within the Silverton community and beyond. Her leadership and inspiration will be greatly missed.”
“Under Cynthia’s leadership this church has had more interesting activities and methods of worship than any church I’ve ever been associated with or a member of,” said church member Bob Boeder. “She’s been really imaginative in leading services and it’s something I appreciate and will miss.”