The Edgewood Congregational Church has called the Rev. Gary W. Bagley to serve as its permanent minister.
Rev. Bagley was selected after the church’s Search Committee reviewed dozens of résumés and was convinced that the Texas born and raised minister was the person to move the church in the right direction.
Bagley was born in the small town of Nacogdoches, Texas, about 150 miles from Dallas. He has a B.A. from Stephen F. Austin University, and an M.A. from Texas Christian University. After graduating from Brite Divinity School, he was ordained in the United Methodist Church.
He served in various churches throughout Texas for the next 30 years, transferring to the United Church of Christ in 2010, where he served as interim minister in Houston and pastor in San Antonio.
“It has always been my dream to move to New England, and Edgewood seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so,” Rev. Bagley said. “After meeting with the Search Committee, Edgewood seemed like the perfect fit.”
Already, he has set roots in Rhode Island.
“While I’ve only been on the job a couple of months, everyone has made me feel very much at home. I’ve found that people in the church, and in all of New England, are very friendly and welcoming,” he said.
The church presented their new minister with a Rhode Island welcome basket, which included a map of the state, some of the local foods and a snow shovel, which he said has already been broken in.
Rev. Bagley has a son who is a Methodist minister in Texas, and a daughter who will be married in June. He also has two grandsons.
Rev. Bagley and his partner, Paul Pfrang, have settled into their new home in the Edgewood community. Pfrang is employed with the Comprehensive Community Action Program in Cranston.
“I want to let the community know that Edgewood Congregational Church is an open and affirming church, and whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here,” Bagley said.
He sees “the community” as much more than Edgewood.
“We have active members from Cranston, Warwick, Providence and Coventry. Unlike Texas, Rhode Island is small enough that most people can drive here in less than 40 minutes,” he said. “The church has a diversified membership which include ethnicity, political and sexual persuasion, and philosophies, which I see as one of our strengths.”
Bagley hopes to capitalize on those strengths as he moves the congregation forward.
“As a congregation, we need to develop a vision that we see God giving us. We’ll begin the process with a leadership retreat in early March and then we will begin to further develop our mission,” he said. “I plan to make Edgewood Congregational Church my permanent home. You can see me retire here. Please accept my personal invitation to our Sunday morning 10 a.m. service.”