New pastor leads the way at Congregational Church on Mercer Island

Rev. Jennifer Castle was officially installed on April 23.

In her pastor role at the Congregational Church on Mercer Island, Rev. Jennifer Castle provides passionate guidance for community members about how faith and the church can reside in their daily lives.

Castle took the pastor reins from Rev. Roberta Rominger on Nov. 27, 2022, and was officially installed in the leadership spot on April 23 of this year.

“It’s wonderful. They have been so welcoming and lovely and I really enjoyed learning about the specific kind of workings of the Island, kind of what the needs are on the Island and I’m really interested in continuing to explore those and what role the church can play,” said Castle, who has a background in social work and noted that she is interested in tackling mental health issues, specifically the epidemic of isolation coming out of the pandemic. On the adolescent side, she recently spoke to girl scouts about anxiety and depression.

The pastor, who holds a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained into the United Church of Christ, feels that people need love and support these days.

“I think the church has a unique responsibility as well as a unique place in a community to provide that connection for people who are hurting or who are lonely,” she said.

Rominger led the church in the environmental justice realm in recent years and Castle said they will continue along that route. Looking ahead, Castle said the vibrant and progressive Christian church is in the process of exploring what is next on its revitalization path in serving Islanders. In the coming months, the church will have booths at the Juneteenth celebration at Mercerdale Park and Summer Celebration.

“Also, we’ll be marching in the Pride parade in downtown Seattle on June 25, as our open and affirming status for the LGBTQ community is something that’s very important to us. So we’d love for people to come march with us,” said Castle, a Bellevue resident who is married with two adult children working in the teaching field.

While working as a volunteer coordinator at Plymouth Church in downtown Seattle for copious years, she had a growing sense that she needed to remain in the church sphere. That enlightening experience pointed her toward studying in the seminary, becoming ordained and finding her way to the Mercer Island church located at 4545 Island Crest Way.

Castle feels her role as a pastor is two-fold:

“I think I am called to be prophetic, to challenge folks and help folks see a different future than the one we have now, a more faith-filled future. Something that works for all of us, not just some of us,” she said. “And at the same time, I’m called to be pastoral and to walk alongside people where they are and with whatever challenges they’re facing.”

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