READING - Pastor Joseph Young joined our First Baptist Church as the Lead Pastor in October of last year and immediately set in motion a central belief that creating the feeling of community is what God wants us to practice in our daily lives. Rev. Young has much national church youth experience to put this central belief into practice.
Originally from the mid-West, he heard God’s call and first served as Youth Director for the Northeast Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg, FL for over 5 years while concurrently leading as the Team Coordinator of Young Life in Florida where he served an active internship as Youth Pastor for over 2 years.
From there, Joseph went to Westside Church doing an internship for nearly 2 years while attending Regent College in 2017 in Vancouver, B.C. At Regent, he was a Graduate Teaching Assistant, contributing to primary and secondary research for their Go Global Program. He succeeds Reverend David Reid who served as Reading’s First Baptist Church Pastor for 38 years, retiring in June of 2016.
Reverend Reid’s contributions to the growth of his church were “Spotlighted” at the time of his retirement. At that time, he indicated that the search for a successor would be a national one conducted by the Pulpit Committee of the First Baptist Church. They would be looking for a spiritual leader with demonstrated skill in serving Christ by caring deeply for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of parishioners and one he hoped would be more active in Reading’s civic activities than he was.
Rev. Joseph’s first impression of Reading is that history matters with the preservation of all the different types of homes, some built century’s ago. It was also obvious that the town is very family oriented and people want to live here. He is particularly impressed with town activities like the Fall Street Faire, Tree Lighting, ReImagine Reading’s efforts on promoting more Main & Haven Street business, and the 375th Birthday Celebration this past June.
He plans to follow Rev. Reid’s advice on involvement in town activities, especially after witnessing the events of this past year. The top priority however is supporting the First Baptist Congregation’s vision, which is diverse and wants to love God and neighbor. It is obviously reciprocal in Rev. Joseph’s view as God’s blessing is very present in the church community.
His most memorable experiences center around the church’s support in dealing with the recent loss of his mother Tessie and birth of his daughter Elijah, now 3 months old. Their care in supporting life’s most critical experiences for him and his wife Michelle truly define the meaning of church. Moreover, it goes well beyond his own family to the church’s providing of meals to the needy and its support for children.
Reverend Joseph views his biggest near-term challenge is to foster the church community’s vision of mattering to the community. One such new way First Baptist Church is moving with their neighbors in Christ is helping young mothers deal with the feeling of loneliness through M.O.P. While they’re always around someone, deep inside they still feel lonely. The church’ desires to make them feel an important part of the community where neighbors help neighbors move from the feeling of brokenness to wholeness in Christ. No one is whole but every person is an image of God desiring the dignity He has placed in them and we should do the things that God cares about.
Joseph moved to Reading last February and immediately joined the Reading Clergy Association and got involved in the community by building relationships with his congregants and the community at large. It was a very busy time as he also had to deal with his mother’s passing 2 months later while helping his mother-in-law, living in Quincy, deal with lung cancer. He’s happy to report that she is now in remission.
The help of Rev. Lorrie Comeford, a 12-year Pastor at First Baptist is an integral part of complementing the church’s course. Rev. Comeford assists in pastoral duties while teaching Chemistry at Salem State University. Rev. Joseph says we’re all equal in doing God’s work while each of us, at the same time, adds value to His direction.
Both Pastors have the help of a staff of 4, working together in a communal effort, to getting all the administrative duties of running a community church successfully done. They are particularly appreciative of the town’s efforts and programs dealing with serious issues as domestic violence and drug addiction and stand ready to help whenever needed. The Police Departments “Citizens Police Academy” and the Human Relations Activity Committee (HRAC) as well as citizen groups like Reading Embraces Diversity (R.E.D.) are outstanding examples of community support.
Rev. Young would like to take this opportunity to let the community of Reading know that he wants the First Baptist Church to be a blessing to the community and its residents both individually and collectively. He is anxious to be involved in community activities.
He lives on Woburn Street, a short walk to the church, with his wife Michelle and infant daughter Elijah. He has a BA in Business Management from Whitworth College in Spokane, WA and a Master’s in Divinity from Regent College in Vancouver, B.C., focusing on World Christianity.